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Letter: Spahn, Lanier deserve ‘greatest’ title over Gronk

I was both pleased and surprised while reading Vic Carucci’s article on the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. I’m aware he had suffered injuries over the years and amazed he’s lasted this long. As a Western New Yorker, I’m proud of the illustrious career Rob has experienced.

I can’t help but wonder, though, had he been with a lesser franchise would he have achieved the success he enjoyed with (I cringe to say it) the great New England Patriots organization.

Carucci opens his article by calling Gronk arguably the greatest athlete to emerge from Western New York. Seconds after I gazed at those lines and my wife shouted “honey what was that loud noise?” I realized it was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor. I was both baffled and amused that Major League Baseball and a man named Warren Spahn hadn’t crossed Carucci’s mind.

In his youth Spahn pitched for the Sparks of South Park High School in Buffalo. He went on to record the most wins by a left-handed pitcher in MLB history (363). He won 20 games or more 13 times, is a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame and considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time.

Spahn’s career was put on hold for three years while serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. Also, he spent most of his career with the Boston/Milwaukee Braves (1946-1964), winners of one World Series during that period. Suppose most of his career was spent with the powerful New York Yankees, who won 10 World Series over those same years.

As I sit here supposing and pondering it becomes quite evident, Rob Gronkowski is arguably the second greatest athlete to emerge from Western New York, maybe.

Let’s not forget the NBA and Buffalo’s great, Bob Lanier.

Thomas A. Fraterrigo


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