Lee Elia

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Lee Elia
Atlanta Braves – No. --
Manager/Coach
Born: (1937-07-16) July 16, 1937 (age 77)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 23, 1966 for the Chicago White Sox
Last MLB appearance
September 13, 1968 for the Chicago Cubs
Career statistics
Games 539
Won–lost record 238–300
Winning % .442
Teams

As player

As manager

As coach

Career highlights and awards

Lee Constantine Elia (born July 16, 1937) is a Albanian-American former professional baseball player and manager in Major League Baseball. He was a manager of the Chicago Cubs (1982 - 1983) and the Philadelphia Phillies (19871988). Additionally, he has served as a coach for the Phillies, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Baltimore Orioles, and Seattle Mariners. He was hired by the Atlanta Braves as a special assistant to general manager Frank Wren in November 2010.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Elia was born on July 16, 1937 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Constantine D. and Florence C. (Soulas) Elia. His father, Connie Elia, was born in Albania, and emigrated to the United States in 1920. He worked as a supervisor for a food service for 30 years. Elia also grew up with a younger sister, Diane. Elia graduated from the University of Delaware, previously from Olney High School in Philadelphia.

Elia currently resides in Odessa, Florida with his 2nd wife Priscilla, and his two daughters, Tana and Ashley.[2]

Playing career[edit]

Elia played most of his career through the Minor League system. He was signed as an undrafted free agent to his hometown team the Philadelphia Phillies in 1958 as a shortstop. He played eleven seasons in the minor leagues and nine of those seasons being in AAA. He played in the Phillies minor league system for six years totaling 72 home runs; about 300 RBIs and a .260 combined batting average. He was then signed by the Chicago White Sox organization in 1965. He played out the entire 1965 season in AAA, and began the 1966 season in AAA as well, before being called up to the Major Leagues. He was on the roster with the 1966 Chicago White Sox season for 80 games in the 1966 season, and played in 77 of those. He played shortstop in 75 of those games. That season he hit .205 with three home runs and 22 RBIs. That 1966 White Sox team finished fourth in the American league with a record of 83–79. The following season he was dealt to the National League's Chicago Cubs. He played the 1967 season in the minors and finished with 14 home runs, 59 RBIs and a batting average of .267. The following season he was called up to the Cubs Major League roster only appearing in fifteen games racking up only three RBIs and a .176 batting average. After the season he played in twenty AAA games, three with the cubs and seventeen with the Yankees. Shortly after he stopped playing baseball before coming back at the age of 35 in 1973 and playing AAA ball with the Phillies. However he only appeared in 16 games and retired after. He was very efficient in the field with a career fielding percentage of about .940.

Coaching career[edit]

Elia was hired as a bench coach for the 1980 and 1981 Philadelphia Phillies Major League team. They finished the season NL East Champions with a 91–71 record, one game ahead of the Montreal Expos. That season he helped lead the Phillies under manager Dallas Green to the peak of all the sport, a 1980 World Series Championship. The following year in 1981 the Phillies finished with a 59–48 record. The won the NL East first half with a 34–21 record, however finished third in the second half with a 25–27 record. They still qualified for the playoffs however and were matched up with the NL East second half winners, the Montreal Expos. The series went to all five games and the Expos knocked out the defending Champions 3–2 in the NLDS. Some notable players he coached in these two years with the Phillies include Larry Bowa, Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, and Ryne Sandberg.

Elia was hired once again as a Phillies bench coach in 1985 and 1986. In 1985 his Phillies finished 75-87, which was fifth in the NL East. Then in 1986 they finished 86–75, good for second place in the NL East however they finished a remarkable 21.5 games back of the New York Mets who were 108–54. Elia was still a bench coach through the first 61 games of the 1987 season, but the Phillies were 29–32 at that point and manager John Felske had been fired mid-season. Elia was hired as the replacement manager.

Since ending his managing career he has worked as many different smaller positions within organizations. He was special assistant to the manager, scout, and hitting coach with the Seattle Mariners. After that he was a special assistant to the General Manager, and scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was also a bench coach and scout in the Baltimore Orioles organization.

Managerial career[edit]

In 1975 and at the age of 37 Lee Elia had begun his managing career in the Western Carolinas League with the Spartanburg Phillies (Single-A). After his first season of managing he led his team to a league best 81–59 record. The following season the team took a bit of a nosedive and finished with a 59–80 record. In the 1977 season Elia was promoted as the manager of the AA Reading Phillies in the Eastern League. He managed his team to a 63–75 finish, which was good for third place in the Can-Am Division. Notable players he managed on this team were 1980 World Series Champions Kevin Saucier and Keith Moreland. During the 1978 season Elia remained head man in Reading and turned it around significantly. They finished the 1978 season with a 79–57 record, which was good for second in the league and only 1.5 games back of the first place Yankees. In 1979 he was named manager of the Phillies AAA affiliate, the Oklahoma City 89ers. The 89ers finished with a 72–63 record and won the west division. They went on to play the Evansville Triplets (Detroit Tigers affiliate) in the American Association Championship Series. They lost the series in six games as the Jim Leyland led Evansville team won the league. A notable player on this roster was Lonnie Smith who was a 1982 All Star and a three-time World Series champion left fielder.

In 1982 at the age of 44 Elia was hired as the manager of the Chicago Cubs. Dallas Green who was his manager the previous two years in Philadelphia was hired as the Cubs General Manager and he proceeded to hire Lee Elia as manager of the ball club. That season they brought players such as Ryne Sandberg, Keith Moreland, and Dickie Noles over from the Phillies roster. They finished the season with a 73–89 record and finished fifth out of six in the NL East. In the 1983 season the Cubs started 5–14 under Elia, and then after a one run loss at home to the dodgers is what Elia had become so famous for, his rant. He went off using many expletives and choice words for the Cubs fan base due to the fact that they booed and heckled their own team each home game throughout the start of the season. Elia was given the chance to redeem himself and the team until he was fired on August 21, 1983 being in fifth place once again, with a record of 54–69. Looking back on it he says that he's incredibly sorry and embarrassed whenever he hears it because it was all in the heat of the moment. He didn’t want to offend anyone but the hometown crowd should still support their team considering it was so early in the season. The Cubs went on to finish the season 71–91.

Elia is often remembered for a profanity-laced tirade directed at the fans at Wrigley Field on April 29, 1983. After the Cubs suffered a one-run home loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Elia made post-game remarks to four reporters—the Chicago Tribune's Robert Marcus, the Chicago Sun-Times' Joel Behrig, the Daily Herald's Don Friske and WLS-AM's Les Grobstein (who recorded it with the only microphone that was in the room)—in which he blasted Cubs fans in the stands for booing and heckling the team:

After being fired by the Cubs he was hired as manager for the AAA Portland Beavers (Phillies Organization) in the Pacific Coast League. He led the team to a 62–78 record. He was hired as a bench Coach for the Phillies the next season.

In 1987 sixty-one games into the season Elia was hired as manager for the 29–32 Phillies. He proceeded to lead the team to an 80-82 record to finish fourth in the NL East. The team was 51–50 that season once he took over as manager. He remained the head man in 1988 however a very disappointing season led to his firing once again as manager. They finished with a 65–96 record and that was good for last place in the NL East.

He was named manager of the Clearwater Phillies for the 1990 and 1991. In his first season he led the team to a 50–87 record. But in the following season he made a dramatic turnaround with the team as they finished with an 81–49 record.

The following season in 1992 at age 54 he was hired as the manager of the Phillies AAA affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons of the International League. He led the team to an 84–58 record before retiring from being a manager.

Awards[edit]

He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tom Trebelhorn
Baltimore Orioles Bench Coach
2006
Succeeded by
Tom Trebelhorn
Preceded by
Jeff Pentland
Seattle Mariners Hitting Coach
2008
Succeeded by
José Castro
Preceded by
Jim Riggleman
Seattle Mariners Bench Coach
2008
Succeeded by
Ty Van Burkleo