August 13, 1965 |
Utica, New York
|September 17, 1988, for the Atlanta Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 25, 1998, for the Boston Red Sox|
|Runs batted in||270|
|Career highlights and awards|
Lemke was drafted in the 27th round of the 1983 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves. Lemke decided against attending Purdue University and spent the next four years in the Braves' minor league system, spending time with these teams : Gulf Coast League Braves, Anderson Braves, Sumter Braves, Durham Bulls, Greenville Braves and Richmond Braves. He made his major league debut on September 17, 1988 when the Braves called him up from AAA when the roster expanded to 40 players. In 1988, Lemke won the Hank Aaron Award as the top offensive player in the Braves' minor league system. Lemke split time between the minor and major leagues until 1990.
In his 11-year career, Lemke played in 62 post season games and appeared in four World Series (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996). He won a World Series with the Braves in 1995, and he led all Braves players with a .417 batting average in the 1991 World Series. He also was the last out in the 1996 World Series, when the New York Yankees won their first World Series in 18 years. Lemke is also known to many fans as one of the best utility infielders to ever wear Rec-Specs in Major League Baseball History.
Lemke is the all-time record holder for most career plate appearances without being hit by a pitch (3664).
Boston Red Sox
The sharp fielding Lemke left the Braves after the 1997 season. On March 26, 1998, he signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox. While trying to turn a double play in a game against the Chicago White Sox on May 19, 1998, Lemke was injured in a collision with baserunner Chad Kreuter. He suffered a concussion that finished his season and essentially ended his major league career.
Post major leagues
With his big league career over, Lemke decided to chase a dream and signed with the New Jersey Jackals, an independent Northern League team, as a knuckleball pitcher in 1999. Lemke, who also worked as an infield coach during his stint with the Jackals, was 5-1 with a 6.68 earned run average in 1999. He returned the next season with the Jackals, but was released on June 20, 2000 after being hammered in his first few appearances. In that stint though, he was wild with his knuckleball and threw an independent league record nine wild pitches in successive at bats.
Currently, Lemke hosts the Braves pregame show on the Braves Radio Network with co-hosts Leo Mazzone and Buck Belue on WCNN-AM in Atlanta. Lemke also fills in on radio during spring training and road games during the regular season as color man, until 2008 with Pete Van Wieren and presently with Jim Powell and Don Sutton.
In popular culture
Lemke was mentioned in an episode of Saturday Night Live that aired in October 1995, during the Weekend Update segment. Lemke was also mentioned in an episode in 1994, along with many other striking Major League Baseball players, during an advertisement for the Fall Baseball cruise (Steve Martin was the announcer for the ad).
He is credited as the accidental namesake of the popular Homestar Runner cartoon, when a friend of creators Mike and Matt Chapman, of Montreal band member James Huggins, unfamiliar with baseball terminology incorrectly referred to Lemke as the "home star runner" for the Braves.