08 December 2014

a black armband for bob lemon

former yankee maanger and scout bob lemon died in january of 2000, and the team's owner george steinbrenner decided that the club would honor lemon by wearing black armbands for the 2000 season.  pitcher mike stanton's 2001 topps card gives a good view of the armband
as does jose canseco's 2001 fleer ultra card
well, not the front of the card - the back
i am not ashamed to say that i was a canseco fan, and his short tenure with the yankees really bothered me.  he was picked up on a waiver claim by the team who were trying to block the blue jays from landing him.  it didn't seem like the yankees expected the devil rays to just give canseco away, but they did and joe torre publicly expressed his confusion regarding brian cashman's move.  don't worry, though - i have a different card in the collection for this memorial.  it's derek jeter's 2001 fleer ultra card
 the captain looks pretty young there.

bob lemon was a third baseman who was converted to a hall of fame pitcher by the cleveland indians following world war ii.  although he was the team's center fielder at the beginning of the 1946 season (he was in the outfield for bob feller's no-hitter on april 30 against the yankees), manager lou boudreau decided to put him on the mound, and the rest is history.  following his retirement as a player, lemon began managing in the angels' minor league system and was chosen to replace charlie metro as the royals' manager during the 1970 season.  

lemon also managed the white sox before he was hired to replace billy martin as the yankees' manager towards the end of july, 1978.  the yankees were 52-43 at that point, 10.5 games behind the first place red sox.  they responded to lemon's presence (or was it martin's absence?) and went 47-20 the rest of the way to force a game 163 against the red sox for the al east title, wherein bucky freakin' dent happened.  lemon's yankees beat the dodgers in the world series that year, just as martin had done the year before, and his place in yankee history was secured.  still, lemon was fired and replaced by martin during the following season.

fast forward to 1981, and the boss was again playing musical chairs with his managers. he had lemon (who had been scouting for the team since his firing in 1979) replace gene michael with just 25 games left in the season and a postseason berth assured based on their first half finish in the strike-shortened year.  lemon again won the pennant, although this time the dodgers beat the yankees, thanks in part to lemon's decision to remove tommy john for a pinch-hitter early in game 6 that didn't pan out.  lemon was again fired (this time replaced by michael) early in the 1982 season, and he returned to his job as a scout which he kept until his death at the age of 79.

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