Former Midland Cub Lee Smith is on his way to Cooperstown!
One of baseball's great closers, Lee was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the "Today's Game Era Committee." The announcement was made Monday at baseball's winter meetings in Las Vegas.
He becomes the third franchise alum ... and second "homegrown Cub" ... to receive the game's highest honor, joining Bruce Sutter and Bert Blyleven in gaining entrance to "the Hall."
Lee was a member of the Cubs in 1978 and 1979 and was a starting pitcher for much of that time. While his "stuff" was undeniable, command was another story - - in two seasons he struck out he struck out 117 batters but walked 213. Over the course of his second in West Texas, the right-hander was moved to the bullpen and the move would turn out to be the first step toward a Hall of Fame career.
In 18 big league seasons, he recorded 478 saves (at the time of his retirement in 1998, he was baseball's all-time saves leader).
The "coolest" stat from Lee's two-year stint here: He earned the first save of his professional career as Midland Cub. That save came in 1978 and he added three more in 1979 here on his to The Show and, ultimately, to Cooperstown.
Lee was a unanimous selection of the 16-member Today's Game Era Committee and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 21 as part of the class of 2019. Speaking of "cool," Bert Byleven is a member of the committee!
Bert pitched here, briefly, in 1992 as he made his way back to the big leagues with the Angels. While his stay was short, Bert made a remarkable impact on our franchise both on the diamond and in the community.
Bruce Sutter, who pitched here in 1974 and 1975 (a time during which he developed his devastating split-finger fastball), was inducted into Hall in 2006 after recording exactly 300 saves in a 12-year Major League career. Combined, the two former Midland Cubs recorded 778 big league saves.
Lee returned to the Permian Basin as the keynote speaker for our 2012 West Texas Sports banquet & Memorabilia Auction. We said, at that time, that Cooperstown really needed to open its doors to one of the game's all-time great relievers. It took some time, but we can now say "congratulations" to Lee Smith ... Hall of Famer!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.