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Mark Lemke
Second baseman
Born: August 13, 1965 (1965-08-13) (age 44)
Utica, New York
Batted: Switch Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 17, 1988 for the Atlanta Braves
Last MLB appearance
May 25, 1998 for the Boston Red Sox
Career statistics
Batting average     .246
Runs     349
Runs batted in     270
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Mark Alan Lemke (born August 13, 1965 in Utica, New York) is a former Major League Baseball player. Nicknamed "The Lemmer", he was a popular second baseman for the Atlanta Braves from 1988 to 1997.

Contents

Biography

Mark is a second cousin twice removed of 1936 Union Party Presidential candidate William Lemke.

Early life

Lemke grew up in Utica, NY. He attended the now closed Sacred Heart Elementary Catholic school in West Utica. Mark is also a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Utica, NY.

Career

In his 11-year career, Lemke played in 62 post season games and appeared in 4 World Series (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996).

Lemke is the all time record holder for most career plate appearances without being hit by a pitch (3664).

Minor league

Lemke was drafted in the 27th round of the 1983 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves. Lemke decided against attending Purdue University and spent the next four years in the Braves' minor league system before making his debut on September 17, 1988 when the Braves called him up from AAA Richmond Braves when the roster expanded to 40 players. Lemke would split time between the minor and major leagues until 1990.

Atlanta Braves

Not known for his bat, Lemke was an excellent defensive second baseman (despite being considered one of the top defensive second basemen in the league, Lemke never won a Gold Glove Award) and was a key component to the winning formula of the Braves in the early-1990s, a team that often relied on pitching and defense. This made it surprising when Lemke batted .417 (after batting only .234 during the regular season) and hit a record-tying three triples during the 1991 World Series against the Minnesota Twins. Lemke tied Billy Johnson's 1947 record for triples in a World Series in 1991. The bat that Lemke hit his third triple with was sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for display. One of the highlights of Lemke's career was his game-winning single in the 12th inning of Game 3 of that series. The performance by the physically diminutive Lemke endeared him in the hearts of Atlanta fans.

Lemke became the team's full-time second baseman in 1992. A .333 average with five walks in the 1992 NLCS, which went seven games, cemented Lemke's reputation as a clutch postseason player. In a strike-shortened 1994 season, Lemke batted a career-high .294 and had only 37 strikeouts in 350 at-bats. In 1995, Lemke and the Braves won a world championship.

With shortstop Jeff Blauser struggling at the plate, Lemke spent most of 1996 batting second for the Braves, with Blauser moving to Lemke's eighth spot. Again rising to the occasion, Lemke batted .444 in the Braves' 1996 NLCS victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Boston Red Sox

The sharp fielding Lemke left the Braves after the 1997 season. On March 26, 1998 he signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox. While trying to turn a double play in a game against the Chicago White Sox on May 19, 1998, Lemke was smashed in a collision with Chicago baserunner Chad Kreuter. He suffered a concussion that finished his season and essentially ended his major league career.

Post major leagues

With his big league career over, Lemke decided to chase a dream and signed with the New Jersey Jackals, an independent Northern League team, as a knuckleball pitcher in 1999. Lemke, who also worked as an infield coach during his stint with the Jackals, was 5-1 with a 6.68 earned run average in 1999.[1] He returned the next season with the Jackals, but was released on June 20, 2000 after being hammered in his first few appearances. In that stint though, he was wild with his knuckleball and threw an independent league record 9 wild pitches in successive at bats.

Currently, Lemke hosts the Braves pregame show on the Braves Radio Network with co-hosts Leo Mazzone and Buck Belue on WCNN-AM in Atlanta. Lemke also fills in on radio during Spring Training and road games during the regular season as color man, until 2008 with Pete Van Wieren and presently with Jim Powell and Don Sutton.

In popular culture

He is credited as the accidental namesake of the popular Homestar Runner cartoon, when a friend of creators Mike and Matt Chapman unfamiliar with baseball terminology incorrectly referred to Lemke as the "home star runner" for the Braves.[2]

References

  1. ^ Mark Lemke UticaOD.com. July 19, 2000.]
  2. ^ "UMFM Interview - 20 May 2003". Homestar Runner Wiki. 20 May 2003. http://www.hrwiki.org/index.phpi/UMFM_Interview_-_20_May_2003. Retrieved 16 July 2009. 

External links

Preceded by
Carlos Baerga
Last hitter of the World Series (pop-up to third)
1996
Succeeded by
Edgar Renteria







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