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Sunday, June 30, 2024

Jim Lemon knew hitting intangibles: Baseball Profiles

Jim Lemon 1990 Elizabethton Twins card

Twins roving hitting instructor Jim Lemon worked with the organization's minor leaguers on improving their hitting, something he knew was no easy task, he told The Fresno Bee in April 1987.

"There are so many intangibles to hitting," Lemon told The Bee then.  "Everyone has to do the basic things to be successful, and that's what we try to teach.  But hitting is such an individual thing."

Lemon hit years earlier, enough to see time in 12 major league seasons. From 1956 to 1961, he was also a regular for the Washington-Minnesota franchise, hitting 164 total home runs over his career. 

He then went on to a career as a coach and instructor and even, briefly, as a major league manager.

Lemon's long career in baseball began in 1948, signed by the Indians out of Covington High School in Virginia.

Lemon started with the Indians at Class C Pittsfield and Class D Bloomingdale. He made Class B Harrisburg in 1949, then AA Oklahoma City and Cleveland in 1950. He saw 12 games with Cleveland, then joined the Army for 1951 and 1952.

He returned to the Indians for 16 games in 1953, then moved to the Senators for 1954. He saw 37 games with Washington in 1954, then 10 in 1955.

Lemon finally became a regular with Washington in 1956, playing 146 games and hitting .271 with 27 home runs. Late that August in 1956, he hit three home runs in a game, in front of President Dwight Eisenhower.

"I think I'll be a better hitter next season," Lemon told The Washington Evening Star after that game. "Playing a full year for the first time has helped me. I can improve a lot over what I've done."

Lemon continued with the Senators through their move to Minnesota for 1961. In 1960, he made the All-Star team. He last played in 1963, seeing time that year with the Twins, Phillies and White Sox.

Lemon then turned coach. He became an assistant coach with the Twins by 1965. For 1968, he returned to Washington for a one-year stint as the club's major league manager. The team went an unsuccessful 65-96.

Lemon isn't recorded as coaching in the 1970s. Instead, he went into grocery business. But he returned to the Twins as bullpen catcher and hitting coach by 1981. 

"Players put on a great big front, but inwardly I think they're scared to death of not being able to produce," Lemon told The Minneapolis Star Tribune in May 1982. "They're cocky and arrogant, but inside they're insecure as hell."

By 1990, he was manager at rookie Elizabethton. He's last credited as coaching in 1994, also at Elizabethton.

Lemon passed away in 2006 at the age of 78.

Jim Lemon 1990 Elizabethton Twins card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,388
Made the Majors:1,414-32.2-X
Never Made Majors:2,974-67.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:575
10+ Seasons in the Minors:354

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