Thornton Lee

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Thornton Lee
Born: (1906-09-13)September 13, 1906
Sonoma, California
Died: June 9, 1997(1997-06-09) (aged 90)
Tucson, Arizona
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 19, 1933, for the Cleveland Indians
Last MLB appearance
June 18, 1948, for the New York Giants
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 117–124
Earned run average 3.56
Strikeouts 937
Career highlights and awards

Thornton Starr Lee (September 13, 1906 – June 9, 1997), nicknamed "Lefty", was a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Cleveland Indians (1933–36), Chicago White Sox (1937–47) and New York Giants (1948). Lee batted and threw left-handed. He is the father of pitcher Don Lee, a former big leaguer.


Lee was born in Sonoma, California. He attended Arroyo Grande High School in San Luis Obispo County from 1923 to 1925 then went on to play football, basketball, baseball and track at California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo. [1] Lee first pitched professionally at the age of 24, reaching the major leagues on September 19, 1933, six days after his 28th birthday, with the Cleveland Indians.

From the beginning, Lee showed a fine sinking fastball, a good control, was effective holding runners and fielding, and produced with the bat as well. Before the 1937 season, he was part of a three-team trade among the Indians, Chicago White Sox and Washington Senators. Jack Salveson went to the Senators, while Earl Whitehill went to the Indians. Lee landed in Chicago and went on to pitch for the White Sox for the next eleven years.

In his first four years with the Sox, Lee won 12 or more games, with a high 15 victories in 1939, despite little offensive support. His most productive season came in 1941, when he paced all American League pitchers in ERA (2.34) and complete games (30). He also posted a career-high 22 victories (second only to Bob Feller's 25), 125 strikeouts (also a career-high), was named to the AL All-Star team, and collected a $2,500 bonus for winning more than 20 games.

From 1942 to 1945, Lee suffered a string of injuries and lost his pace. After fracturing his arm and undergoing two bone chip removals and a neck operation, he recovered his old form in 1945, going 15–12 with a 2.44 ERA and 108 strikeouts, and pitching in the All-Star game for second time.

At the age of 42, Lee divided his time in 1948 between the National League, with the Giants, and the Pacific Coast League, where he contributed to the Oakland Oaks pennant championship. He retired at the end of the season.

Thornton Lee died in June 1997 in Tucson, Arizona, at 90 years of age. He is survived by his son, Don, who pitched for five teams in the major leagues from 1957 to 1966. Thornton Lee was inducted into the Cal Poly Hall of Fame in 1988.[2]


  • On September 17, 1939, Ted Williams hit a home run off Thornton Lee, one of 31 homers he hit in his rookie season. Williams homered off Thornton's son, Don Lee, of the Senators, on September 2, 1960, thus becoming the only player in major league history to hit a home run off a father and son.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Images of America Arroyo Grande by Jean Hubbard and Gary Hoving; 2009 Arcadia Publishing.
  2. ^ "Thorton S. Lee". Archived from the original on September 24, 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External links

  • Career statistics and player information from MLB, or Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
  • Baseball Library
  • The National Pastime
  • Thornton Lee at Find a Grave
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