Lonborg in 1969
|Born: April 16, 1942|
Santa Maria, California
|April 23, 1965, for the Boston Red Sox|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 10, 1979, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Earned run average||3.86|
|Career highlights and awards|
James Reynold Lonborg (born April 16, 1942) is an American former professional baseball right-handed starting pitcher, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Boston Red Sox (1965–1971), Milwaukee Brewers (1972), and Philadelphia Phillies (1973–1979). Though nicknamed "Gentleman Jim", he was known for fearlessly pitching on the inside of the plate, throughout his fifteen-year career.
Lonborg enjoyed his best year in the 1967 Carl Yastrzemski-led Red Sox's "Impossible Dream" season, when he led American League (AL) pitchers in wins (22), games started (39), and strikeouts (246). That year, the Red Sox were involved in a four-way race for the AL pennant with the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, and Chicago White Sox; the race was reduced to three teams after the White Sox lost a doubleheader to the Kansas City Athletics, on September 27. The Red Sox and Twins faced each other in the season's final series and entered the final day (October 1) tied for first place; the Tigers were half a game out of first and needed to sweep a doubleheader from the California Angels to force a playoff between the winner of the Red Sox–Twins game. Lonborg outdueled Twins ace Dean Chance in that finale, while the Tigers defeated the Angels in the first game but lost the second, putting the Red Sox in the World Series for the first time since 1946. In that World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Lonborg pitched game two, tossing what was only the fourth one-hitter in Series history and followed that up with another victory in game five by limiting the Cards to three hits. Called upon to pitch the seventh and deciding game with only 2 days' rest, he lasted 6 innings, but allowed 6 earned runs in a 7–2 loss. In addition, Lonborg received the 1967 Cy Young Award (becoming the first Red Sox pitcher so honored), played in the All-Star Game, and finished prominently in voting for the MLB Most Valuable Player (MVP) award (placing 6th in the voting, with teammate Yastrzemski winning the award).
In December 1967, Lonborg tore the ligaments in his left knee while skiing and his pitching career thereafter was marked by many injuries. He won only 27 games from 1968 through 1971 and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers after the 1971 season. While Lonborg performed well for Milwaukee in 1972, the team traded him in October to the Phillies. He spent the next six and a half seasons with Philadelphia before his release, midway through the 1979 season.
After retiring, Lonborg attended the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and graduated in 1983. He worked as a general dentist in Hanover, Massachusetts until he retired in 2017. He is active in many nonprofit organizations, including Catholic Charities, Little League Baseball, and The Jimmy Fund. Lonborg currently lives in Scituate, Massachusetts.
Lonborg was selected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, in 2002.