As a two-time survivor of prostate cancer, I am always especially moved when I remember my former teammates who were not as fortunate. Today would have been the 69th birthday of Joe Lis, who died way too young five years ago after a long bout with prostate cancer. Joe played from 1970 to 1977, for the Phillies, Twins, Indians and for the first season of the Mariners franchise. The Tribe purchased Joe’s contract a month or so after I was traded to Cleveland and we became teammates until I was traded to Texas during the 1977 season.
The first time I ever faced Joe was on July 7, 1973, the first game of a double header against the Twins at Metropolitan Stadium. Joe hit an RBI single off me in the eighth inning, the third time he got on base that game. You can be sure I remember this game: I gave up nine runs and still pitched a complete game. How often do you see that anymore? I was facing Bert Blyleven, so what chance did I really have? We lost 9-1.
And I’ll never forget Joe’s first game with Cleveland. He hit a massive ninth inning Home Run against Kansas City Royals pitcher Paul Splittorff. Tribe fans loved him from that point on.