Bob Lemon starting playing baseball professionally at age 17 in 1938. As an outfielder he hit .307 in 300 at bats at Class C. He also appeared in one scoreless inning as a pitcher.
Lemon remained in the minors until he enlisted in the navy in 1943. A strong prospect by then, Lemon remained in the armed forces throughout the ’45 season.
He returned in 1946. Lemon played in 55 games, 32 as a pitcher, and 12 as an outfielder, 9 as a pinch hitter and 3 as a pinch runner. The following season Lemon became a full time pitcher. He posted an 11-5 record and a 3.44 ERA.
In 1948 Lemon blossomed, leading the AL in innings, complete games, shutouts and WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). He was at his best from ’48 through 1956. During that time he made 7 all star teams and won 186 games.
Lemon won 20 or more games 7 times and led the league in victories thrice. In 1957 his record slipped to 6-11. Lemon pitched through severe elbow pain. In the offseason he had surgery on his right elbow.
The right hander pitched in 11 games in ’58, losing his only decision while posting a 5.33 ERA. Lemon’s final big league game came on July 1, ’58 in a pinch-hitting appearance vs. the White Sox.
Lemon’s seven 20-win seasons and 207 career wins got him inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.
In the collection is this contract sent to Lemon. The Indians hoped he’d agree to play the 1953 season for $40,000. Lemon also rejected the terms of this deal, instead signing for $45,000. Lemon reached the All Star game for the sixth consecutive season in 1953 and won 21 games.