Thursday, November 12, 2009
#2 Bob Lemon
Lemon was a Hall of Fame pitcher who started out as an infielder for the Indians, but came back from World War 2 as a pitcher with a devestating sinker. He wound up being a mainstay in the Cleveland rotation for years. Upon his retirement, his 37 home runs at the plate are still the second highest total for a hurler, one shy of Wes Ferrell. He also holds the single-season fielding record for doubleplays by a pitcher (15).
Lemon, like our previous entry Durocher, also appeared in Hollywood. He portayed Hall of Fame pitcher Jesse Haines in the Pete Alexander biopic, "The Winning Season," starring Ronald Reagan. He also played himself in the baseball film, "The Kid From Cleveland."
Lemon was also part of George Steinbrenner's tilt-a-whirl of managers in the 70's, along with Billy Martin, Yogi Berra, Gene Michael, and so on. In the off-season, his 26 year-old son was killed in a motorcycle accident, and this personal tragedy distracted him throught the early part of the 1979 season. After being dismissed in early 1979, he took the reins of the Yanks again in 1981 and lead them into the World Series.
After his managerial days, Lemon's hobby of hard drinking began to take its toll. He lived in failing health, before succumbing to complications from a stroke in 2000. He was 79.
"The two most important things in life are good friends and a strong bullpen."
"I've seen the elephant, heard the owl and flown with the screeching eagle. I've never looked back and regretted anything. I've had everything in baseball a man could ask for. I've been so fortunate. Outside of my boy getting killed. That really puts it in perspective. So you don't win the pennant. You don't win the World Series. Who gives a damn? Twenty years from now, who'll give a damn? You do the best you can. That's it."
The Autograph: Lemon's autograph is very common. I received this one through the mail, as I did many other things from Lemon through the years.