Bob Lemon's career on the mound
spanned only 13 years, but he led the
American League in complete games
Raised in Long Beach, California, Robert Granville Lemon (1920-2000) was a star shortstop and pitcher as a youngster. He spent five years in the Cleveland farm system before his career was interrupted by World War II. Upon returning from the Navy, he was moved to center field to shore up a club weak spot. When Lemon’s batting average still lagged below .200 several weeks into the season, player-manager Lou Boudreau decided to try him as a relief hurler.
Lemon spent over a year in the Tribe bullpen before getting a chance to crack the starting rotation in mid-1947. He responded by winning 10 consecutive games and finished with an 11-5 mark. The following year, his first as a full-time starter, Lemon won 20 games and topped the AL with 2932/3 innings, 20 complete games, and 10 shutouts.
In addition, he tossed a no-hitter against the Tigers on June 30. When Cleveland won its first pennant in 28 years in 1948, Lemon was given two starting assignments in the World Series against the Boston Braves. He won both as Cleveland copped the championship in six games.
Frequently used as a pinch hitter, Lemon hammered a total of 37 home runs, including seven in 1949 alone. In addition, his experience as a third baseman helped make him the top-fielding pitcher of his era. Often a league leader in putouts, assists, and total chances accepted, he set a major-league record in 1953 that still stands when he participated in 15 double plays as a moundsman.
In 1950, Bob led the AL with 23 wins, 170 strikeouts, and 288 innings pitched. He also led the league in victories in 1954, with 23, and in complete games with 21. Again in 1955 he was tops in the AL with 18 wins.
Only the fourth pitcher in American League history to win 20 games in a season as many as seven times, Lemon spent his entire playing career with Cleveland. Afterwards, he worked for a number of years as a scout and a pitching coach. Later, Bob managed the Royals, White Sox, and the Yankees. Replacing Billy Martin midway through the 1978 season, Lemon guided the Yankees to a world championship. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976.
Here are Bob Lemon's major league totals:
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