Happy Birthday, Lee Elia

Lee EliaHappy 75th Birthday to Lee Elia, whose brief career as an infielder for both Chicago MLB teams is overshadowed by his time as the manager of the Cubs and a most memorable profanity-laced tirade directed at Chicago fans. Lee and I were rookies together in 1966. The first time I pitched to Lee was on May 28, 1966 at Yankee Stadium. He hit a single in the top of the second, moving Pete Ward to third – and Ward scored on Al Weis’ fielder’s choice. I proceeded to get Lee out the next twelve times I faced him that season. But on October 1, 1966, the last time Lee was At-Bat against me, he hit another single. Lee spent the next season in the minors, during which time the Cubs purchased his contract. He played briefly with the Cubbies in 1968, but that was the end of his major league career.

Lee was sort of Dallas Green’s protégé. The two met when they were minor leaguers in the Phillies organization, teammates on the Arkansas Travelers in the Pacific Coast League. Fergie Jenkins, Alex Johnson and Pat Corrales were also on that team. (Frank Lucchesi, who would be my manager in Texas twelve years later, was the manager.) I was in the minors at the same time, playing in North Carolina, and I remember hearing about this amazing farm team. Lee wound up coaching for Dallas in Philadelphia and then got hired by the Cubs when Dallas was the General Manager. He later joined Dallas in New York as a Yankees coach, and then had another shot as a major league manager in Philadelphia.

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