Donald Lamar Lemon
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 185-215 lb.
- School Tuskegee University
Don Lemon pitched for sixteen years. He played professional baseball in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Taiwan and Japan.
Atlanta chain and the Miracle
Lemon was undrafted out of college, not what you'd expect from someone who would spend four seasons in AAA. Don signed with the Atlanta Braves in 1989. Farmed out to the Idaho Falls Braves, he was 2-1 with a 6.47 ERA in his pro debut, posting the third-highest ERA on his club.
Atlanta returned Don to the field in 1990 and he did better despite bouncing around with stops in Idaho Falls (6-2, 4.46), the GCL Braves (1-0, 2.25) and the Sumter Braves (1-2, 6.33). let go by the Braves, the big right-hander signed with the independent Miami Miracle for 1991 and was 0-1 with a save and a 5.19 ERA.
Marlins chain and Australia
In 1992, Lemon signed with the Florida Marlins, an expansion team that was only fielding minor league entries that year. He turned in a 6-3 record for the Erie Sailors with two saves and a 2.85 ERA. The Marlins farmed Don out to the Australian Baseball League's Melbourne Monarchs that winter. Lemon did the job, going 6-4 with a 2.26 ERA in 1992-1993. He got the call in the finals against the Perth Heat. He tossed a no-hitter for 7 innings and wound up with a 3-hit, no-run, 8 1/3 inning gem of a pennant clincher. He was named the playoff MVP.
Lemon split 1993 between the High Desert Mavericks (0-1, 3.70, 2 Bb in 24 1/3 innings) and the Edmonton Trappers (3-3, 5.21 in his first AAA taste). He returned to Melbourne in 1993-1994 and was 6-7 with a 3.30 ERA. The African-American hurler was third in the ABL in innings (87 1/3) and tied for fourth with six complete games. Through 1999, the last year of the ABL's 10-season run, Lemon's 2.80 ERA put his second all-time behind longtime major leaguer Graeme Lloyd.
Taiwan, take one
In 1996, Lemon signed with Taiwan's President Lions. He was 7-4 with a 3.04 ERA but was 0-2 in the 1996 Taiwan Series. Don from Detroit went 10-7 with four saves and a 2.80 ERA for the '97 Lions. He was fourth in the Chinese Professional Baseball League in ERA, second among foreigners behind Mike Garcia.
The veteran right-hander turned in a 8-9, 3 save, 3.18 campaign in 1998. He was 9th in the CPBL in ERA that season. The next year, Lemon was 5-5 with four saves and a 2.37 ERA with only 25 walks in 98 2/3 innings. The control-oriented hurler had spent four seasons in a row with one club, the longest stretch of his career and fairly rare for a foreign player in Taiwan. He was second in the CPBL in ERA in 1999, trailing only Carlos Mirabal.
Lemon moved up to Japan in 2000, signing with the Yakult Swallows. He went 3-7 with a save and a 3.91 ERA. He did turn in a historic effort on April 14. That game, he became the sixth Nippon Pro Baseball pitcher to strike out four pitchers in an inning and the first gaijin to do so.
Taiwan, take two
Don returned to the Lions in 2001 and did well, going 2-2 with two saves and a 1.64 ERA in limited action.
Taiwan, take three
Don's last baseball stop was the place of some of his greatest successes, Taiwan. He returned for a third go-around in 2004, at age 36/37. He was 4-5 with a 3.75 ERA for the Lions. In the 2004 Taiwan Series, he was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA as the Lions fell to the Sinon Bulls.
Lemon was 36-32 with four saves and a 2.53 ERA in six seasons in the CPBL, 3-7 with a save and a 3.91 ERA in one season in Japan and 30-33 with five saves and a 4.58 ERA in the minor leagues.