For most of us, the "Golden Years" don't begin until we're 60-something. For the professional athlete, they often begin much sooner- sometimes as early as their mid-40s.
Like most major leaguers who play into their forties, Warren Spahn's playing career ended on a down note. His final two seasons (1964 and 1965) saw him with a combined record of 13-29, with a 4.61 ERA, 1.406 WHIP, while still throwing 371.1 innings over 74 games- 55 of which were starts. Still...from 1961 to 1963, his age 40, 41, and 42 years, Spahnnie went a combined 62-34 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.128 WHIP. Amazingly, his age 42 year was the best of the three AND one of his best EVER: 23-7 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.117 WHIP. How he didn't finish in the top vote getters for CY Young, I"ll never know.
I don't know much about the Upper Deck MVP Batters Up! set. Perhaps Spahn was chosen because he could really swing it for a pitcher. In his career, the lefty hit 35 homers, including hitting his high of four in a season twice, and a seventeen season streak of hitting at least one home run. MVP voting? He received MVP votes in 15 seasons, including finishing four top-5 finishes.
While these cards can't compare to Warren's cards from the 50s and 60s, it's still nice to see his inclusion in many of today's sets. I particularly like this Heritage Flashback, as well as the Then and Now below. As far as the Southpaw Greatness...it's okay.
So, when didn't Spahn lead the league in wins? Eight times he led the circuit in Wins. Chien-Ming Wang? He signed with Atlanta in the offseason, hoping to win the fifth spot in the rotation. I had long forgot about his success earlier in his career. Not only did he win 19 games in 2006 (his second year in the majors), but he also finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting.