- The Washington Times - Friday, November 28, 2003

Nobles: Warren Spahn for success in sports and combat.

Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn, who died Monday at 82, was both an extraordinary athlete and war hero. Spahn began his major league career in 1942 as a member of the Boston Braves, before entering military service the following year. It was not until 1946, after leaving the military, that he posted the first of the 363 victories that made him the most winning left-handed pitcher of all time.

During the 15 seasons from 1949-1963, while pitching for the Boston and Milwaukee Braves, Spahn won at least 20 games 12 times and made the All-Star team 13 times. “He won consistently pitching for Braves clubs that ranged from seventh place to World Champions,” the Web site BaseballLibrary.Com pointed out.

In 1948 (a season in which he won “only” 15 games), Spahn pitched in his first World Series. Although the Braves were eventually defeated by the Cleveland Indians in six games, Spahn provided one of the outstanding mound performances of the series, pitching 5 2/3 innings of one-hit relief to win game five. In 1957, Spahn won 22 games and the Cy Young Award, beginning a string of five consecutive seasons in which he led the National League in wins. He was the winning pitcher in game four of the World Series, as the Braves, who had moved to Milwaukee, defeated the Yankees in seven games. In a rematch with the Yankees the following year, Spahn won two World Series games, but the Yankees won in seven. On August 11, 1961, he won his 300th game. Joe Torre, the current Yankees manager, was the Braves’ catcher that day. Torre, a 21-year-old rookie at the time, says that he remembers his former battery mate as “a fighter and a winner.”

Spahn, a very private man, didn’t talk much about his experience during World War II, where he saw action against the Nazis in Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge. He won a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery under fire there. “I never thought of anything I was told to do in baseball as hard work,” Spahn said years later. “You get over feeling like that when you spend days on end sleeping in frozen tank tracks in enemy-threatened territory. The army told me something about challenges and about what’s important and what isn’t.”

Knaves: Dear Abby, for advising a terrified pregnant teen-ager to go to Planned Parenthood for help.

A teen-ager recently asked Dear Abby for advice when she found out she was pregnant. “I haven’t told my parents,” she wrote, “because I’m scared of their reaction. It’s so hard. What are my options?” Abby’s advice shocked many of her readers, who believed Abby did not address the real concerns of the girl, who signed the letter “alone and terrified.” Abby recommended the young girl contact the “caring and understanding staff” at Planned Parenthood, “who would explain all her options.”

Although Dear Abby’s Web site claims she has the “best opinion and advice in the universe,” Abby was wrong on this one. As one reader in Florida said, “I was shocked when I read your reply to ‘Alone and Terrified’ … You advised her to go to Planned Parenthood. Were you advising her to get an abortion?” A reader in Pennyslvania pointed out the potential long-term effects of having an abortion: “If that girl aborts her baby, she will most likely suffer for the rest of her life with the guilt she will eventually feel for having chosen abortion.” Yet another concerned reader pointed out the dangers of consulting Planned Parenthood: “Here in California, a girl recently died because rather than going to her parents for help, she went to Planned Parenthood. Secrets should never be encouraged. Parents are the teen’s best option.”

Recommending the help of strangers to a “terrified” teen-ager failed to take into consideration the love and support she needs from her family and friends, and maybe even clergy. Also, as another reader pointed out, “What about the prospective father?”Abby’s advice neglected this issue, as well as the serious repercussions of having sex at a young age. By failing to address this, Abby did not send a clear message to all teen-agers: Sexual relations have serious consequences. Abby also failed to mention the teen’s other critical option of carrying the baby to term and giving it up for adoption.

The syndicated column Dear Abby appears in numerous newspapers around the world, including this one. Praised many times over for her uncanny common sense, Abby missed the mark on this one.

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