Ted Lyons

Position: Pitcher
Teams: Chicago White Sox 1923-1942; 1946

Ted Lyons pitched 21 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, going 260-230 for a .531 winning percentage. In those years, without Lyons pitching, the White Sox compiled a .447 winning percentage. Ted is the only Hall of Fame pitcher to serve 21 years with the same team without ever playing on a pennant winner.

Ted Lyons registered a .531 career winning percentage while playing for a team that generally finished well below .500.
Ted Lyons registered a .531 career
winning percentage while playing for a
team that generally finished
well below .500.

Theodore Amar Lyons (1900-1986) was a star basketball player and second baseman as a high school player in Vinton, Louisiana. He attended Baylor University with the intention of becoming a lawyer, and he played on the baseball team as an extracurricular activity. The team had too many infielders, however, so Ted became a pitcher, and was so good that he attracted the attention of the major-league clubs.

In 1923, Lyons went straight from the campus to the major leagues with the White Sox. An important reason he signed with the White Sox rather than Cleveland or the Philadelphia A’s, both of whom were also courting him, was because Chicago owner Charlie Comiskey pledged that Lyons would not be demoted to the minors until he’d spent at least one full year in the majors.

Lyons had rough seasons in 1923 and ’24, but he rebounded in 1925 to tie Eddie Rommell for the AL lead in wins with 21 -- pretty impressive, since Ted pitched on a team that was 79-75. Two years later, he again tied for the AL lead with 22 victories, while the ChiSox were 70-83. He also topped the loop in innings pitched and complete games that year. After mediocre seasons in 1928 and ’29, he bounced back to go 22-15, leading the loop with 29 complete games and 2972/3 innings pitched.

Lyons injured his arm during 1931 spring training while pitching an exhibition game against the Giants. Rather than sit out and allow the injury to heal, he tried to pitch through it. When he was ineffective, Lyons resurrected a knuckleball he had discarded earlier in his career.

Judicious use of the knuckler enabled Lyons to extend for 13 more seasons a career that seemed doomed in 1931. Between ages 30 and 40, he won just 107 games and lost 108. In 1942, nearing his 42nd birthday, he topped the AL with a 2.10 ERA while posting a 14-6 record with 20 complete games in 20 starts.

Returning from the Marines in 1946 after a three-year hitch during World War II, Lyons was the oldest player in the majors at 45. On May 25, 1946, Lyons retired as an active player when he was named the White Sox manager. Ted piloted the Pale Hose through 1948. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955.

Here are Ted Lyon's major league totals:


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