Early Wynn was a radio announcer for the Blue Jays in their initial years. At that time, he explained that gout shortened his career:
“It had its ups and downs. I assume it (the gout) was like arthritis or rheumatism in a milder form.
“I took the (coach’s) job [coaching pitchers for the Cleveland Indians] because I had some trouble with gout at that time. But the next four years, my arm felt better and I was throwing harder as a pitching coach than in either ’62 or ’63. I probably could have pitched for two or three more years.”
But this isn’t about his gout, it’s about his 300th win. He was looking for it late in the 1962 season: “The toughest one (to get) was the 300th. I’d pitched a dozen or so where I came close. One time, (Joe) Pepitone, a guy who didn’t hit me too well, hit a home run to beat me. Then in Chicago, Elston Howard hit one into the right-center field stands that beat me after I was ahead.
“There were a number of things like that. One day, Luis Aparicio, of all people, made an error in the ninth inning. The game got tied up and went 11 innings before I lost it.
“I was supposed to pitch in Washington, but we bypassed that. I didn’t pitch for about a week to eight days in order to win the 300th in Chicago. Then in Chicago, Jim Lemon, my roommate, dropped a line drive in left field (to cost him a win). That was the day all my friends flew up from Florida to see me win the 300th game.”
The Toronto Globe and Mail continued the story:
Wynn, who was even the victim of a 1-0 no-hit defeat by Boston’s Bill Monbouquette along the way, was still looking for that one victory in 1963, after he signed with the Indians in June.
The veteran right-hander had to do it the hard way again. In his first game back with the Tribe, he went nine innings and lost 2-0.
“Ron Hansen hit a home run off me in the ninth inning to beat me. It was the best game I pitched the whole time I was going for it.”
After all those impressive performances, Wynn finally succeeded on July 13, leaving after only five innings work with a 5-4 lead. He headed up to the press box to watch the Indians hold onto the lead: “Maybe that was a sign then. This was where I belonged.”<!–
And he said: “I never slept the night before [the 300th win]; the gout was killing me.”
Like so many of the old ballplayers, Early Wynn also had some memories about the extreme lack of bargaining power he had: “I don’t recall ever making big money. In ’53, I won 18 ball games and the general manager tried to cut me 25 per cent. So I wasn’t asking for big money. I was more or less trying to maintain the mediocre salary I was making the year before. Back then, they had agents in Paducah or somewhere, but you didn’t have them in the major leagues. If you came into the office with an agent, they closed the door on you.”