Thursday, December 3, 2009

Final Card: Jerry Lynch

Jerry Lynch (#182) began playing minor-league baseball in 1950 for the Greenville (MS) Bucks, an unaffiliated class-C team. Before the 1951 season, the Yankees purchased his contract, but he spent the 1951 and 1952 seasons in the military. After the service, he played for the Yankees' class-B team in Norfolk, Va in 1953.

After the 1953 season, the Pirates selected him in the rule 5 draft, meaning he had to stay on the major-league roster. In 1954, Lynch was part of a 3-way left field platoon with Dick Hall (who would later pitch for the Orioles and Phillies) and Frank Thomas. Lynch also played in right field.

In 1955, rookie Roberto Clemente joined the team and took over right field. Frank Thomas started 81 games to lead all Pirates left fielders. Thomas also started 55 games in center field, so Lynch played left field for 30 of those games, as well as spelling Clemente in right field for 30 games.

Lynch must have been injured in 1956, because he only appeared in 19 games that year, and only 1 game in the field. After the season, he was selected by Cincinnati in the rule 5 draft.

Jerry played for the Reds from 1957 until May of 1963, when he was traded back to the Pirates for outfielder Bob Skinner. In 1957, Lynch was a backup to regulars Frank Robinson, Gus Bell, and Wally Post. Before the 1958 season, Post was traded to the Phillies, which opened up right field for Lynch.

In 1959, the lineup was Lynch in LF, rookie Vada Pinson in CF, and Gus Bell in RF. Hey, I learned that for most of 1959 and half of 1960, Frank Robinson played first base! In 1960, Jerry's playing time got squeezed, as Robinson moved back to the outfield, and Post was reacquired from the Phillies for rookie outfielder Tony Gonzalez.

Cincinnati's outfield continued to be crowded in 1961, as Robinson and Post would mix-and-match as the starters in left and right, with Lynch backing up in left and Bell backing up in left and right. (Pinson was a fixture in center.) This same dynamic continued in 1962, except that Marty Keough replaced Gus Bell.

In 1963, Lynch returned to the Pirates, and for 2 years became Pittsburgh's regular left fielder (alongside Bill Virdon and Roberto Clemente), although he had rookie Willie Stargell breathing down his neck. In 1965, Stargell took over as the regular, with Jerry backing up.

1966 was Lynch's last season, and he was relegated to pinch-hitting duty, appearing in 64 games, only 4 of them in the field.

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