The Doctor Spin
Last year’s World Series champions - the Atlanta Braves …used to be the Milwaukee Braves … and before that, were the Boston Braves.
And they were good. Very good … because of 2 star pitchers - Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain. You may have heard the old saying “Spahn and Sain: then pray for rain”.
Not only was Johnny Sain an incredible pitcher, he was probably an even better pitching coach. These are some of his 20 game winners: Jim Kaat, Whitey Ford, Denny McLain, Jim Perry, Muscat Grant, and Jim Bouton.
Most of those guys said that Sain was the best pitching coach they ever encountered. However, Tommy John said that “Sain could show you how to throw any pitch in the book, but he couldn’t look at your motion and tell if your mechanics were off”.
Sain was all about controlling spin. He wasn’t a believer in the typical training that was focused on legs. He said something like “if that’s what matters, why aren’t track stars good pitchers?”
As you can probably guess … I’m more of a Sain guy for sports that involve a ball. I think that pitchers and tennis players and golfers need to understand spin … and how to control the ball by using spin.
However, those games have become much more focused on power than controlling spin.
Power can be a good thing. However, in life as in ball sports … uncontrolled power can be a very bad thing.
I watched that “King Richard” movie last week on the plane. Richard Williams’ daughters - Venus and Serena - learned how to control spin. Obviously they were athletic and powerful … but their dad got them to learn how to spin the tennis ball early in life, so that when they got older and stronger, they could be in control of their new found power.
Johnny Sain was also a good hitter … he posted a lifetime .245 batting average - amazing for a pitcher. He understood that the bat was a tool to be controlled.
Too often, golfers just swing the club and focus on body mechanics … as if the ball will just magically go where it should. Those body mechanics are useful if they help the players control the golf club. And, the golf club needs to be controlled to impart the proper spin. It shouldn’t be left to luck.
Well, if you can learn to control the spin of a golf ball as well as Johnny Sain could control the spin of a baseball … you won’t pray for rain. You’ll want it to only rain at night so you can play golf every day.
GM/Head PGA Professional
Deer Run Golf Club
8661 Deer Run Drive
Victoria, MN 55386