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Gene Lillard

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Robert Eugene Lillard

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[edit] Biographical Information

Gene Lillard played for 20 years (1932-1954), three in the Major Leagues (1936;1939-1940) and 19 in the minors (1932-1938;1940-1942;1946-1954), losing three years to the Military. His brother, Bill Lillard, played for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1940. A versatile performer, Lillard pitched in the period 1937-1940, winning 35 and losing 26 in the minors. As a third baseman, twice he led the Pacific Coast League (PCL) in HR and he ended his baseball career in the minors as a catcher.

Lillard was born on November 12, 1913, in Santa Barbara, CA and was 22 years old when he broke into the big leagues on May 8, 1936, with the Chicago Cubs as a shortstop. He ended his MLB career with the St. Louis Cardinals as a pitcher on May 20, 1940. He played for the Western League (1932:3B), the PCL (1932-1934:3B); the Cubs (1936:SS); the PCL (1937-1938:P); the Cubs (1939:P); the PCL (1940:P); the Cardinals (1940:P); the International League (1940:1942:3B-SS); the PCL (1942;1946-1948:3B); the Arizona-Texas League (1948-1949:C); the California League (1950-1952:2B); the Western International League (1953-1954:C); and the California League (1954:C). He served in the United States Armed Forces during World War II (1943-1945) (GB).

In 11 years with the PCL in mostly offense driven years, he was 34-24 and played 1,007 games with 148 doubles, 30 triples, 174 homeruns, 637 RBI, a batting average of .304 and a slugging average of .533. Overall in his 19 years in the minors he was 37-29 and played 2,142 games with 342 doubles, 66 triples, 345 homeruns, 1,414 RBI, a batting average of .303 and a slugging average of .525.

He was a player-manager in the low minor leagues during his last several years. He managed the Tucson Cowboys in 1949, the Ventura Braves in 1950-51, and the Calgary Stampeders in 1953 and again in 1954 until the team was disbanded mid-season.

After baseball, he was a rancher and farmer in the Goleta CA area. He died at age 77 in the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara CA from lung cancer and is buried at Goleta Cemetery in Santa Barbara CA.

His younger brother Bill Lillard was also born in the Santa Barbara area and also had his two major league seasons in 1939-40.

[edit] Career Highlights

  • Led Pacific Coast League in homeruns, 1933 (43)
  • Led Pacific Coast League in homeruns, 1935 (56)
  • Led Arizona-Texas League in batting average, 1948 (.364)

[edit] Sources

Principal sources for Gene Lillard include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs {{{WW}}} (WW), old Baseball Registers {{{BR}}} (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN {{{DAG}}} (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) {{{MORE}}} and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others. , SABR's Minor League Baseball Stars, Volume I and The Pacific Coast League: A Statistical History, 1903-1957 by Dennis Snelling.

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