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Old 12-05-2018, 07:12 PM
tedzan tedzan is online now
Ted Zanidakis
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 7,252
Default McLain and Sain…..Perfect together.....Should Johnny Sain be in the Hall of Fame ?

Johnny Sain was a winner on every team he played and coached on from 1946 - 1968. I saw him pitch when I was a kid.
And, I was aware of his impressive results in coaching pitchers in the 1960's-1970's. It's my opinion that he should have
been considered for induction into the Hall-of-Fame.

1946 - 1951 Boston Braves
1951 - 1955 NY Yankees
1961 - 1963 NY Yankees (pitching coach for Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry, Jim Bouton)
1965 - 1966 Minnesota Twins (pitching coach for Mudcat Grant, Jim Kaat, Jim Perry)
1967 - 1969 Detroit Tigers (pitching coach for Denny MacLain, Mickey Lolich, Earl Wilson)
1971 - 1976 Chicago White Sox (pitching coach for Stan Bahnsen, Goose Gossage, Jim Kaat, Wilbur Wood)

1947 Rookie card


I enjoyed a nice conversation with Denny McLain this past weekend at the Philly Show. Denny was a very friendly guy. I asked him about Johnny Sain,
who I have always thought was an overlooked figure in Baseball. Denny smiled, and just continued talking about Johnny Sain for about 15 minutes. He
attributes his 31 games won in 1968, and his 24 games won in 1969 to Johnny's expert guidance. Check-out the SABR write-up that follows.

FOOTNOTE.....Excerpted from SABR.

"What Sain achieved as a pitching coach (sixteen 20-game winners in all or part of 17 seasons) is impressive, given the diversity of talents he worked with.
Some, like Whitey Ford and Denny McLain, had experienced considerable success. On the other hand, Jim Bouton, Jim Kaat, Mudcat Grant, and Stan Bahnsen
had yet to show how capable they were. Then there was Wilbur Wood, undergoing the transformation from reliever to starter.

The project that best epitomizes Sain at work has to be Denny McLain. The quintessential flake, McLain had all the tools to be a great pitcher except seriousness
of purpose, sense, and maturity. Sain took Denny for what he was and worked his magic indirectly. Learning that McLain was working to obtain a pilot’s license,
Sain helped him prepare for the required tests, and even went up in the air with him. From that basis the two moved to McLain’s pitching so smoothly that he
was the best pitcher in the American League in 1968 and 1969, winning 55 games, a Most Valuable Player Award, and two Cy Youngs. At 25, he already had 114
wins under his belt and seemed on path for the Hall of Fame. What McLain’s career might have been had he had Sain’s guidance for a few more seasons is pure
speculation, but the train wreck — erratic and criminal behavior; suspensions from baseball; prison for drug dealing, racketeering, and extortion; poor health
in the form of obesity and heart trouble; and who knows what else — that has been McLain’s life in the more than 40 years since is indisputable. Denny needed
grounding, and Sain gave it to him for a magical couple of years.


T206 Reference
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:08 AM
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SAllen2556 SAllen2556 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Detroit
Posts: 367

Just finished Mickey Lolich's book, "Joy in Tigertown". He also cites Sain as a great pitching coach. The problem with Sain, according to Lolich, is that he wanted complete control of the pitchers without any interference from the manager. That resulted in him getting fired quite a bit. Wasn't the saying "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain?"

And by the way, Denny McClain is only friendly these days because he's trying to get into heaven. He has a LOT of past sins to try and make up for.
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:13 AM
Donscards Donscards is offline
Don Hontz
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Portland, Maine
Posts: 1,251

I may have to say no on Sain for the Hall of Fame, I do believe he may have been the best pitching coach during his time, but the Hall of Fame just doesn't look at coaches. As for Denny Mclain, I also chatted with him at the White Plains show a few months back, he had a autograph booth next to mine.--What a treat talking with him, he had great stories with some interesting off color remarks. He did say he was getting cortisone shots almost every week (unheard of in these days)--He said his arm hurt the whole year and it was nothing to throw 150 pitches a game. He also stated he should have won 32 games, Mayo Smith took him out of the second last game of the season where he was leading 1-0, Don McMahon game in and a walk,Homer and the game was lost. He also lost the last game of the season 2-1---McLain is really open and honest on his thoughts of his career.
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:56 AM
bbcard1 bbcard1 is offline
T0dd M@rcum
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Roanoke, VA
Posts: 2,635

I was Sain's "handler" along with former Negro League star Wilmer Fields for a television interview in Washington DC. I got to ride in a limo with them from the hotel in suburban Virginia to the television station in Washington DC. I am pretty sure it was on the occasion of a Jackie Robinson anniversary as I recall and I was working with one of the early CSA shows to get publicity. Sain was the first MLB pitcher to face Robinson and Fields had played with him some.

There were "bumps" in the appearance. Fields was just coming off heart surgery and had overslept. I felt bad, but I had to rush him because it was a live sequence. Sain was having the problems men of a certain age have and made us pull over the limo so he could relieve himself behind a dumpster in the middle of Washington DC. We got there just in time for the interview. They were both great. They were also friendly and charming to me and the quirks in our ride to a Washington DC station made it memorable and endearing to me.
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:12 AM
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clydepepper clydepepper is online now
Raymond 'Robbie' Culpepper
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Columbus, GA
Posts: 4,804

I am constantly amazed at the many, many interactions members have had with 'our heroes'.

Thanks for sharing

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on others lives" - Jackie Robinson


Internally- We spend too much time assuring our rights without learning the responsibilities that should accompany them.
Externally - No matter how much we claim to take the higher moral ground, we have neither respected nor attempted to understand other cultures.
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:21 AM
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iwantitiwinit iwantitiwinit is offline
rob.ert int.rieri
Join Date: May 2009
Location: NC
Posts: 1,514

I would like more info before making a decision if it's available. Since Sain was for the most part not the #1 ace on the staff I would think he faced lesser pitching opponents than the #1 ace thereby making it easier for him to accumulate wins as his team would naturally give him a bit more run support. I'd like to see his run support during his starts as compared to say Spahns during the same period. My initial thought is that his pitching and coaching career don't merit induction.

Last edited by iwantitiwinit; 12-06-2018 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:38 AM
packs packs is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 5,127

I think he was a Tim Hudson level pitcher. Hudson isn't going to sniff induction, though he was very very good.
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Old 12-06-2018, 12:20 PM
brian1961 brian1961 is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 960

Ted, I agree with you. Over 20 years ago, I began thinking about all the teams who hired Johnny Sain as their pitching coach. The man was remarkable, innovative, focused, and really knew what he was doing.

I also read why Mr. Sain was invariably released by each team, and it's a stinking shame each manager could not let their ego get in the way of allowing Johnny to do his job. There is so much involved to being a great manager; if a proven specialist comes on board to "manage" the pitchers, let the genius do his job, for crying out loud!!!!! Johnny Sain's pitchers loved him, and they blossomed. Again, the stuffy etc. etc. MLB Hall of Fame "drops the ball" in failing to recognize and enshrine a very deserving man from his rightful place of fame.

Take care, Ted, and Merry Christmas! --- Brian Powell
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Old 12-06-2018, 02:07 PM
mark evans mark evans is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 546

Originally Posted by clydepepper View Post
I am constantly amazed at the many, many interactions members have had with 'our heroes'.

Thanks for sharing

I may have mentioned this before, memory fading. I met Denny McClain at the Chantilly show several years ago. He was selling his autobiography. I mentioned that I had processed his Freedom of Information Act request for FBI files many years ago when I was a lawyer with the Department of Justice. He told me he was pleased with the 17 boxes of records we provided regarding his conviction for counterfeiting and other crimes. Small world.
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Old 12-06-2018, 07:02 PM
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oldjudge oldjudge is online now
Join Date: May 2009
Location: The Bronx
Posts: 3,698

Sounds like a nice guy and a good coach, but not even close to a HOFer.
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