Bill Lee (right-handed pitcher)
|Born: October 21, 1909|
|Died: June 15, 1977 (aged 67)|
|April 29, 1934, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 29, 1947, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Earned run average||3.54|
|Career highlights and awards|
William Crutcher "Big Bill" Lee (October 21, 1909 – June 15, 1977) was a Major League Baseball pitcher. He played professionally for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Braves during the 1930s and 1940s.
Early life and career
Lee was born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, and played college baseball as a freshman for Louisiana State University. He was originally a top prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. In August 1933, Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey called his counterpart with the Cubs, William Veeck, Sr. and offered him two pitchers—Lee and Clarence Heise. According to Bill Veeck, one of Rickey's favorite tricks was to offer another team two players and trust that the other team would take the wrong one. In the case of Lee and Heise, Rickey knew that all but one Cubs pitcher was right-handed, and expected the Cubs to take Heise, a left-hander. However, on the advice of chief scout Jack Doyle, the Cubs took Lee. As it turned out, Heise would make only one relief appearance in 1934, and was never heard from again. It was one of the few times where Rickey, who was legendary for fleecing National League teams, ended up getting fleeced himself.
Lee spent 10 full seasons with the Cubs, as well as a pair of cameo appearances in 1947. He made his major league debut on April 29, 1934, with the Cubs. He saved Game 5 of the 1935 World Series at Wrigley Field, with his team on the verge of elimination, and his best year was in 1938 when he helped lead the Cubs to another World Series with a record of 22–9 and 2.66 ERA. He was on the National League All-Star Team twice when he played for the Cubs.
Lee played for the Phillies from 1943–1945 and for the Braves from 1945–1946. Lee developed eye problems which made it difficult for him to see the catcher's signs. Eyeglasses helped little, and he retired in 1947 while playing for the Cubs.
Life after baseball
After retiring, Lee returned to Plaquemine, Louisiana, and had eye surgery for his detached retinas. He eventually went blind. Lee died on June 15, 1977, and is interred in Saint John Cemetery in Plaquemine.
Awards and honors
- Wolf, Gregory H. "Bill Lee ('Big Bill')". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
- Neyer, Rob (2006). Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders. New York City: Fireside. ISBN 0-7432-8491-7.
- "1938 World Series". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
- "50 Greatest Cubs". ESPN. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
- "Bill Lee World Series Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
- "Chicago Cubs". The Online Book of Baseball. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
- "The Top 100 Cubs Of All Time – #45 Bill Lee". SB Nation. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
- "Bill Lee Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
- Porter, David L. (2000). Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: G-P. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 869.
- "Bill Lee". Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
- The Chicago Cubs: Seasons at the Summit by Warren Wilbert, published by Sports Publishing LLC, 1997.