White Sox: The Mount Rushmore of center fielders

Phil Watson
Chet Lemon of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Chet Lemon of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Chet Lemon of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Mount Rushmore of White Sox center fielders: Chet Lemon

The Chicago White Sox landed Chet Lemon when he was a Triple-A outfielder in the Oakland A’s organization, acquiring him in as part of a four-player deal at what was then the June 15 trade deadline in 1975. Lemon finished the season at the White Sox Triple-A affiliate in Denver and got a cup of coffee in the show in September.

In 1976, Lemon emerged as the regular center fielder for the White Sox. He was a solid run producer, an excellent defender and represented Chicago in the All-Star Game in both 1978 and 1979.

He led the American League with 44 doubles in 1979, the same year he led the league by getting plunked 13 times. In 1981, he was hit 13 times to again lead the AL, this time in a strike-shortened season during which he played in just 94 games. Ouch.

In November 1981, the White Sox dealt Lemon to the Detroit Tigers in a straight-up swap for former All-Star left fielder Steve Kemp, who played one season in Chicago before bolting via free agency.

Lemon went on to win a World Series with Detroit in 1984, retiring after the 1990 season. In the spring of 1991, he spent nearly three months in the hospital with polycythemia vera, a blood disorder, but he recovered, later founding the Chet Lemon School of Baseball in central Florida.

In parts of seven seasons with the White Sox, Lemon hit .288 with an .814 OPS in 785 games and 3,198 plate appearances. He hit 73 homers with 348 RBI and scored 403 runs, while recording 178 doubles.

The A’s took Lemon, a Los Angeles native, with the 22nd overall pick in the first round of the 1972 draft from Pepperdine University.

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