Profiles of Valor
Robert “Bob” Lemon was born in September 1920 to a baseball loving family in San Bernardino, California. His father was a former minor- league shortstop and his mother was a devoted fan of the game, thus establishing Lemon’s lovefor the game at a young age. Lemon pitched and played infield for in high school before signing with the Cleveland Indians after graduating in 1938.
Lemon’s first stint in the minors was with Oswego in the Class C Canadian American League, where he switched to theoutfield. Lemon spent the next three years in both the infield and outfield at several Class C League teams before beingcalled up by the Cleveland Indians in September 1941. Lemon’s major debut as a third-base late-inning replacement against the Philadelphia Athletics proved insufficient for the Indians. After failing to make the 1942 Spring Training roster,Lemon spent the season with the Baltimore Orioles of the International League.
His future was beginning to look bright, after being dubbed a left-handed power hitter at Baltimore, when Lemon enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the end of the season. Spending the next three years in the Navy, Lemon pitched in service games and received glowing reviews from both players and coaches alike. Lemon was discharged in 1945 after serving as a Seaman for three years.
Lemon showed potential in the outfield in the exhibition season in 1946 and secured his place at center field for OpeningDay. Cleveland’s manager Lou Boudreau began to hear rumblings of Lemon’s pitching during his service and added him tothe pitching staff. The Indians won the 1948 World Series behind Lemon’s two victories in the six-game series against theBoston Braves. During his fifteen-year playing career in the League, he was named The Sporting News’ American League’s Outstanding Pitcher in 1948, had seven 20+ winning seasons, and appeared in 4 All-Star games.
Lemon retired in 1958 but continued to coach and manage teams in both the Majors and Minors. Inducted into the Hall ofFame in 1976, Lemon went on to win the 1978 World Series with the New York Yankees as a manager and had hisnumber, 21, retired by the Indians in 1998.