Discussion can get pretty heated when writers of historical fiction talk about whether it's all right to change historical facts in the interest of a story. I tend to go with the naysayers. Tell it like it was. Whenever I hear a sportscaster these days say, "Spahn and Sain, and two days of rain," I think no, wait. That's not how it went.
I first became a baseball fan in 1948, listening to games on a big floor-model Philco radio in our dining room. That year, the Boston Braves won the National League pennant, though their starting-pitcher staff was supposed to be pretty thin. "Spahn, Bickford, Sain, then pray for rain," the broadcasters said.
But Boston pitcher Vern Bickford, a rookie, managed an excellent 11-5 won-lost record and a fine 3.27 earned run average. Nor was he a one-year wonder. Before an arm injury ended his career, he pitched seven seasons of major league ball, made the National League All-Star team, threw a no-hitter against the powerful Brooklyn Dodgers, and one year led the National League in complete games and innings pitched. Somebody somewhere really must not have liked him; he lived to only 39, dying in 1960 of stomach cancer.
And when you come down to facts, the story told by the 1948 broadcasters was hardly spot-on to history. A fourth starting pitcher on that Braves team, Bill Voiselle, also an All-Star one year, pitched more than 200 innings, won 13 games (only two less than Spahn),and had an ERA of 3.63, lower than Spahn's.
Include Bickford and Voiselle, and you're telling an entirely different story, a truer one. "Spahn, Bickford, Voiselle, Sain. We don't care if we get no rain." I wouldn't mind seeing that quartet in Seattle Mariners uniforms this year.