Robert Granville Lemon (September 22, 1920 – January 11, 2000) was an American right-handed pitcher and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB). Lemon was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a player in 1976.
Lemon was raised in California where he played high school baseball and was the state player of the year in 1938. At the age of 17, Lemon began his professional baseball career in the Cleveland Indians organization, with whom he played for his entire professional career. Lemon was called up to Cleveland’s major league team as a utility player in 1941. He then joined the United States Navy during World War II and returned to the Indians in 1946. That season was the first Lemon would play at the pitcher position.
The Indians played in the 1948 World Series and were helped by Lemon’s two pitching wins as they won the club’s first championship since 1920. In the early 1950s, Cleveland had a starting pitching rotation which included Lemon, Bob Feller, Mike Garcia and Early Wynn. During the 1954 season, Lemon had a career-best 23–7 win–loss record and the Indians set a 154-game season AL-record win mark when they won 111 games before they won the American League (AL) pennant. He was an All-Star for seven consecutive seasons and recorded seven seasons of 20 or more pitching wins in a nine-year period from 1948–1956.
Lemon was a manager with the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. He was named Manager of the Year with the White Sox and Yankees. In 1978, he was fired as manager of the White Sox. He was named Yankees manager one month later and he led the team to a 1978 World Series title. Lemon became the first AL manager to win a World Series after assuming the managerial role in the middle of a season.
From Baseball in Wartime:
Robert G “Bob” Lemon was born in San Bernardino, California on September 22, 1920. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians as a third baseman in 1938, and played in their minor league system until entering military service with the Navy in 1943.
Lemon served at Los Alamitos Naval Air Station in California for the first two years of his service. In 1945, he was sent to Aiea Barracks in Hawaii, and it was there that he made the conversion from infielder to pitcher.
Lemon joined the Indians, mainly in a relief role in 1946. By 1948, he was a starting pitcher with a 20-win season under his belt and teamed with Bob Feller, Early Wynn and Mike Garcia to form one of the starting rotations in baseball history.
By the time his major league career came to and end in 1958, Lemon had seven 20-win seasons and two World Series victories. He was an all-star for seven straight years from 1948 to 1954.
Lemon played one season for the San Diego Padres in the Pacific Coast league after his major league career ended. He later managed the Royals, White Sox and Yankees and also served as a scout with the Yankees’ organization.
Bob Lemon was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976. He passed away on January 11, 2000 in Long Beach, California, aged 79.