- July 12, 1894
- 190 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-19-1915 with SLN
Lee Meadows claim to fame in his major league baseball career was the fact he was the first player ever to dawn glasses in the 20th century while he played the game. What he should be remembered for is not only one of the better pitchers to play during the early part of the century, but a pivotal part of the Pirates teams in the mid 20’s that won two National League championships and a World Championship.
Meadows career started on April 19th, 1915 with the St Louis Cardinals after winning 40 games in two years with Durham in the minors, when he became the first player to appear in a major league game with glasses since 1886. That year he finished a fine 13-11, before leading the league in losses the next season going 12-23 in a circuit high 51 games.
He stayed with the Cards a couple more years before going to the Phils midway in the 1919 campaign. Specs lost 10 games for each team that year adding up to a NL high 20-loss season. Lee finished his first eight seasons with a poor 99-125 record. The reason for the sub par mark was not that he was a poor pitcher, he was considered one of the best in the league, but he was with such poor teams. He lost 13, 1-0 contests in his career.
While with Philadelphia, Meadows was considered untouchable, but after a 1-3 start in 1923, when Specs gave up 40 hits in only 19 innings, the Phillies finally took the bait that Barney Dreyfuss offered, Cotton Tierney, Whitey Glazer and $50,000, and gave up on their bespectacled star hurler.
The new Pirate didn’t start out well for the club when he came over, but eventually righted the ship and finished the ’23 campaign, 16-10 for the Pirates ended in the season with accumulative 17-13 mark.
After a decent year in 1924, Specs came into his own in the Bucs world championship season of 1925 when he went 19-10with a 3.67 ERA. After so many years pitching for sub par teams, Meadows finally got his shot in a World Series, but unfortunately he went up against one of the best of all time in Walter Johnson. Specs pitched well, but came up on the short side of a 4-1 game. Lee’s arm gave him trouble and he did not pitch in the rest of the series.
As good as 1925 was for the 32-year-old pitcher, 1926 turned out to be his marquis season. Although the Bucs were unable to repeat their championship performance in ’26, Meadows was superb leading the league in wins with 20, as he was a phenomenal 20-9 for an NL 3rd best .690 winning percentage.
Meadows followed up his best season with another solid year going 19-10 again as he had in ’25, both times, ironically, the Bucs went to the World Series as National League champions.
Lee’s second venture into the post season was no better than his first as he pitched well for 5 innings after giving up 2 in the first to the 1927 New York Yankees in game 3. He blew up in the 7th, surrendering 6 runs as Specs lost his second decisions in as many post season outings.
Now 34, Meadows was looking forward to a yet another solid season, when he was sidelined in spring training by a nasty sinus infection. Things didn’t get any better during the season as arm problems forced him to pitch in only 4 games. Injuries continued the following season and after giving up a run in only 2/3 of an inning of work in 1929, the arm problems finally put an end to Meadows career.
Despite his untimely ending, Meadows 88-52 run in his seven years as a Buc, pushed his final record over .500 to 188-180. A nice final mark and career for the nearsighted hurler from North Carolina
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- Lee Meadows