Bill Lee

General Lee was a 6’3″ Louisianan whose extremely high leg kick deceived batters and gave his fastball added speed. He was buried in the Cardinals system despite a 71-31 record over four seasons. Branch Rickey made a choice between Paul Dean and Lee in 1934, bringing Dean to the majors and selling Lee to the Cubs. Lee shut out the Phillies in his first ML start (5/7/34). In his sophomore season, 1935, he led the NL with a .769 winning percentage (20-6), recorded five victories during the Cubs’ 21-game winning streak, and won the pennant clincher.

Lee was positively intimidating in 1938, helping the Cubs to another World Series by leading the league with 22 wins, a .710 winning percentage, a 2.66 ERA, 37 starts, and nine shutouts. During one period he reeled off 32 consecutive scoreless innings and yielded only one run in 47 innings; the lone run was driven in by a pitcher and prevented Lee from hurling five straight shutouts. In September he racked up a streak of 37-1/3 scoreless innings, which included a flawless relief job between four shutouts.

Lee lost his touch in 1940. His eyes began to fail, and he had trouble seeing his catcher’s signals. The high point of his 8-14 season in 1941 came on May 7, when he hit two home runs in a game. With the help of eyeglasses, he went 13-13 in 1942, then bounced from team to team, twice winning 10 games. After he retired, he underwent delicate surgery for two detached retinas and eventually lost his sight.