Jim Lemon, 78; Star Batter For Old Washington Senators

Monday, May 15, 2006

Jim Lemon, 78, a star hitter with the Washington Senators in the late 1950s who later was a batting instructor for the Minnesota Twins, died May 14 at his home in Brandon, Miss. He had melanoma.

Mr. Lemon, an outfielder, was sold to the Senators in 1954 from the Cleveland Indians. He spent two years in the minor leagues and then proved a successful slugger for the Senators before the team moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul in late 1960 and became the Minnesota Twins.

In August 1956, Mr. Lemon hit three consecutive home runs off the New York Yankees' Whitey Ford while playing at Griffith Stadium in Washington. In attendance was President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who congratulated Mr. Lemon on his performance.

"I think we had 28,000 at the game that night," Mr. Lemon later told The Washington Post. "I'm convinced now we must have had 428,000. At least a dozen guys have claimed they caught two of the homers."

In 1959, he scored 33 home runs, and in 1960 he had 38.

He briefly played for the Twins, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox before stepping down in 1963 after a major shoulder injury. He then managed the York, Pa., farm team for the new Washington Senators and was the Twins batting instructor.

In 1968, he replaced Senators manager Gil Hodges and managed 161 games with a record of 65 wins and 96 losses. The team's new owner, Robert Short, then replaced Mr. Lemon with Ted Williams, a Hall of Famer.

Mr. Lemon left sports and was a co-owner and operator of a Hyattsville grocery.

Starting in the early 1980s, he spent more than a decade with the Twins as an instructor and scout for its minor league system.

James Robert Lemon was born in Covington, in southwestern Virginia. He was recruited to the Indians out of high school, but his play was interrupted by Army service during the Korean War.

A former University Park resident, he left the Washington area in 1987 and spent many years in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

In 1988, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Ella Otto Lemon of Brandon; three children, Joseph Lemon of Lynchburg, Va., Le Lemon of Darnestown and Patrick Lemon of Brandon; a brother, William Lemon of Roanoke; and seven grandchildren.

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