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Hutton, perhaps after a look at the Phils' wan batting averages, came back with the most logical choice of all. " Taft," he said. "What was he, 300 pounds? He could hit the long ball."
The selections could have gone on and on, but the Phils decided to stop wasting time and get back to something they knew about.
Early (Gus) Wynn, who won 300 games in the major leagues, pitched his last one in 1963 and now, at 52, is managing the Minnesota Twins' Orlando farm team in the Florida State League. Yet he wants one more turn on the mound in the majors. "If I can get into one more game," Wynn says, "I'll be the only human being ever to play big league ball in five different decades." He is one of a handful who have played in four decades; another is Ted Williams, who broke into the majors in 1939, the same year Wynn did.
The old pitcher has talked to Calvin Griffith of the Twins. "He tinkered with the idea, but he worried about taking a man off the roster to make room for me." On the other hand, Griffith probably thought about the crowd, too. Wynn says, "I think a lot of people would come out to see an idiot in his 50s trying to pitch. But I'll tell you this. I wouldn't do it if I thought it would turn into a farce. I work out with our club and I know for one game I can whip myself into shape. And not just for one pitch. I'd like to start.
"There's a twist, too. I saw Williams at an oldtimers' game, and he said if Griffith lets me get away with this he plans to put himself in as a pinch-hitter for the Rangers." Maybe Gus could pitch to Ted?
The only real flaw, alas, is that Wynn would not be the first to play in five decades. Nick Altrock, who worked for years as a clowning coach for the Senators (his boss was Calvin Griffith's uncle, Clark Griffith), beat him to it. Altrock broke into the majors in 1898 and, after starring with the Chicago White Sox, was washed up by 1909. But, coaching for the Senators, he made brief appearances in 17 games, most of them late-season fun affairs, scattered from 1912 through 1933, the last when he was 57.
Admittedly, Altrock's record is a shallow one. And it would be nice to see Wynn's beefy torso and no-nonsense face on the mound again. Bring him back, Calvin. Go get 'em, Gus.