Johnny Gee

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John Alexander Gee

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Biographical Information[edit]

Gee on the 1937 Michigan men's basketball team

Left-hander Johnny Gee spent ten active seasons in professional baseball from 1939 to 1951. On July 31, 1939 he was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League.

Gee spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1939, 1941 and 1943-1944. He was purchased by the New York Giants from the Pirates on June 12, 1944 and was with the Giants for the rest of the season through 1946. During his major league run with both the Pirates and Giants, he appeared in 44 games and had a 7-12 record with a 4.41 ERA.

Johnny also spent parts of six seasons in the minors and had two very good years in 1938 and 1939 with Syracuse, going 17-11 with a 2.71 ERA in 1938 and went 20-10 with a 3.11 ERA in 1939. Gee finished his six seasons in the minor leagues with a 48-28 record in 96 games.

Johnny also played basketball in the National Basketball League, a predecessor of the NBA. Listed at 6' 9", he was apparently the tallest player in baseball history and remained so until 6' 10" Randy Johnson made his debut in 1988. However, he later confessed that his listed height was a publicity stunt that had been cooked up when he was in college; in reality, he was 6' 6½".

After baseball, he taught school at Adams, Groton and Waterloo, NY between 1942 and 1960, serving as principal at Groton from 1955 to 1960. He was then principal at Cortland High School from 1960 until he retired in 1977. Gee died on January 23, 1988 in Cortland, NY at the age of 72.

His last name was correctly pronounced "GHEE", but frequently mispronounced as in "Gee whiz!" (hence his nickname). Dave Frishberg made that mistake in his song Van Lingle Mungo, using the wrong pronunciation.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Armand Peterson: "Johnny Gee", in Bill Nowlin, ed,: Van Lingle Mungo: The Man, The Song, The Players, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014, pp. 17-22. ISBN 978-1-933599-76-2

Related Sites[edit]