No. 215 Ted Lyons (Number 49 Pitcher)

Ted Lyons had a long career where he won 260 games mostly for not very good teams. Early in his career he pitched a lot of innings, twice leading the league in innings pitched. He also led in wins twice and won 20 games three times.

However, we all get old. So late in his career, the White Sox decided to pitch Ted Lyons once a week, mainly on Sundays, so he could have a rested arm when he pitched. It is difficult to tell when this practice started, but I’m going to go with 1935, the first year that he wasn’t a rookie or hurt that he didn’t pitch in 30 games. He did this for 8 straight seasons. Turns out I was right according to his SABR biography article. Also, Jimmy Dykes was the manager who made this decision.  His best season was his last in 1942.

Then he went into the Marines for three years. He came back after World War II and started off the season pitching fairly good. However, his manager Jimmy Dykes resigned, and Lyons was named as his replacement. Lyons, who reportedly never wanted the job retired as a player so he could concentrate on managing.

I decided to check if Ted Lyons was really a Sunday pitcher for those 8 years. I decided to test the two years Lyons went 14-6, 1939 and 1942, the second of these years in the league in ERA. To do this I just compared his starts to the Sundays on calendars for the two years I found on the internet.  He didn’t always pitch on Sunday’s, but it was a part of a plan and he pitch a majority of his starts on Sunday both years.

In 1939 the season started late and his first start was Saturday April 22nd. That was his only start in April. He made his first Sunday start on May 21st. It was his only Sunday start in four starts in May. In June Lyons started the first three Sunday’s of the month. He then waits nine days for his next start, but in July starts all 5 Sundays as well as the first two in August. Then I’m guessing that Lyon was hurt as his next start is August 30th 13 days later. None of Lyons four starts in September were on a Sunday. So, he started on Sunday in 11 of his 21 starts.

In 1942 he had only 20 started games but completed everyone and led the league in ERA. In April none of his three starts was on a Sunday. Neither was his first one in May. However, Lyons then started the last three Sundays in May and all four Sundays in June. The four Sundays in June were all the first games of a doubleheader as well as two of the three in May.  Lyons started the first and last Sunday in July so he must have been hurt in between.

Lyons had 9 8 days rest before his next start on a Tuesday. Then he started the last four Sundays in August.  All his Sunday starts for July and August were the first game of a doubleheader. Lyons actually didn’t make a Sunday start in October, but both his starts were the first game of a doubleheader. So in 1942, Lyons had 13 of his 20 starts on a Sunday.

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