The granddaughter of Milwaukee Braves baseball legend Warren Spahn is calling on Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to apologize for using her loved one’s name to communicate about state business. She called Evers’ actions “absolutely” wrong and “highly inappropriate” and called on him to stop using the email address in Spahn’s name.
We sent Evers’ office an email asking if he will apologize to the Spahn family.
“He (Evers) needs to give out an apology for the privacy of the fact that our grandpa has passed away, our dad has passed away,” said Morgan Spahn, Warren’s granddaughter. “He (Evers) needs to stop and issue an apology to everyone, to our family. It’s out of line.”
Along with her siblings, Morgan is Warren Spahn’s closest surviving kin.
We also reached Morgan’s sibling Logan Spahn, who, as with Morgan, had no idea that Evers was embroiled in controversy for using their grandpa’s name. Logan said only that “imitation is the best form of flattery,” and added that he needed to talk to other family members and familiarize himself with the details of the story before commenting further.
Morgan added that she hopes Evers is just a fan of her grandfather, saying she’s not a politician and just doesn’t want anything negative to result. She indicated that she hopes the renewed media attention on his grandfather’s legacy introduces Warren Spahn’s story and service in a positive way to younger generations who may not be as familiar with it.
In a nutshell, Morgan Spahn emphasized that, while Warren Spahn is a historical figure to many, he was a beloved real person with a real, and still grieving, family who live mostly in Oklahoma. Warren Spahn worked hard for the positive reputation that is attached to his name, and Morgan believes it’s wrong for a politician to communicate in his name, especially without the family’s consent. It’s worth noting that other politicians who have used so-called “alias” emails did not take the names of other real people. For example, former Gov. Scott Walker inverted his own first and middle names.
“I don’t think he (Evers) should try to communicate as Warren Spahn when Warren Spahn has been passed away,” said Morgan Spahn. “He needs to respect the peace of our family and the image our grandpa left the world with. He (Warren Spahn) has worked so hard with that.” She said it was wrong “to try to communicate with other people as someone deceased who gave part of his life to defending our country and becoming a big name and person.”
The fact that Evers appropriated the name of a real person, albeit deceased, is getting lost in the media coverage, which is focusing on the legality of his actions, another concern. Spahn is a Hall of Famer who is the “winningest southpaw pitcher in big league history,” with “363 games in a career that included 13 20-win seasons,” according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 2003.
“It’s weird. I don’t understand why a grown man would adopt another grown man’s name and use it,” said Morgan Spahn. (That’s essentially the point former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson made to WRN, when he criticized Evers for using the name Tuesday morning, saying it was not right, and adding, “In this day and age where everybody is suspicious and untrusting, you should not use other names than your own.”
Morgan Spahn spoke in an exclusive interview with Wisconsin Right Now on November 28, 2023, from her home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where WW2 veteran and American hero Warren Spahn lived after his baseball career.
Warren Spahn’s only child, Greg Spahn, Morgan’s dad, died in 2022.
WRN broke the story that Evers, a Democrat, had appropriated Warren Spahn’s name and was using it to send emails about a host of public issues. Evers’ office says there are about 17,000 records associated with the state taxpayer-funded account firstname.lastname@example.org but has yet to release any of them. Evers’ state Department of Administration responded to our open records request by releasing a handful of Evers’ emails in Warren Spahn’s name. They show he communicated as Warren Spahn about controversial issues like COVID policy. It’s unclear how long Evers used the account. His staff told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the email was inactive for “years,” but the DOA redacted the email name using the argument – on Nov. 22, 2023 – that releasing the email address name would imperil Evers’ ability to communicate and do his job. The email account did not bounce back to multiple people who wrote it on Sunday, November 26 right after our first story broke.
For Morgan, the use of the name caused some instant pain.
“Not only that our dad passed away a year ago in October, but that’s kind of a little crappy to be using grandpa’s name and all of that,” Morgan said. “Our family is still getting over that.”
She said she believed Evers “wouldn’t be doing that if he wasn’t gaining something by it.”
Morgan said Evers should “not backpack on somebody who worked their entire life to accomplish what they did” and should use his own accomplishments to “get his name in the media.”
She noted that Evers’ “views don’t align with his (Warren Spahn’s) family’s views,” when told Evers is a Democrat, although she had not heard of the Wisconsin governor before.
According to Morgan, her dad is “not here to back himself up on what he believes.” She said her dad leaned Republican as does she.
Morgan Spahn said that it would be “a little weird” for Spahn’s great-grandkids someday to grow up and Google the name “Warren Spahn” and “there is this guy who pops up,” referring to Evers.
She stressed that Evers did not know her family or grandfather and said Evers appeared to be trying to “gain bank off it on some sort of way.”
Morgan was 2 years old when Warren Spahn died and has memories of her grandpa as a “really sweet happy loving guy who always wanted to poke at you. I just remember him giving these big old hugs.”
She said he was “very proud” of his baseball record but also “his medals from World War 2. Any man able to protect families and this country is really memorable.”
We told Morgan that her grandpa is very beloved in Milwaukee, where he is regarded as a baseball player who was connected to the community in a positive way and admired for his talents and his down-to-earth persona.
She praised “all the hard work he put into it,” noting of Evers, “all the political stuff needs to stay out of it.” Morgan said her grandpa was “not a politician. He was a baseball player.”
Wisconsin identity theft statutes do make it illegal to use “identifying information” of another person, including their name, even if they are deceased. But that statute reads that the law applies if the name is being used “without the authorization or consent of the individual and by representing that he or she is the individual, that he or she is acting with the authorization or consent of the individual, or that the information or document belongs to him.” It’s unlikely though that any prosecutor would charge a person under these circumstances, since people receiving the emails obviously did not really think Evers was the famous baseball legend, but that’s what the statute says.