Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Final Card: Lee Elia

It’s been awhile since I’ve featured a player’s final card on this blog, and there are about 20 more to go. (The “Final Card” series has long been finished on my 1966, 1967, and 1968 blogs.) 

Lee Elia (#312) had a brief and uneventful playing career in Chicago (1966 with the Sox, and 1968 with the Cubs).

Elia was signed by his hometown Phillies in 1958, and played 6 seasons (1959-64) in their farm system (the last 3 years at the AAA level). After the 1964 season he and outfielder Danny Cater were traded to the White Sox for veteran pitcher Ray Herbert.

Lee spent another season in the minors, then made his major-league debut in late-April 1966 with the White Sox. Although playing some games in the minors that season, he was with Chicago for most of the year, and made 64 starts at shortstop, including 48 consecutive starts from 5/28 to 7/9. (Ron Hansen began the season starting the first 23 games at short, then didn’t play again for the rest of the season because of a back injury. The team filled in with Al Weis, then Elia, and then for the final 3 months, mostly Jerry Adair with a few starts by Elia.)

With Hansen back in the saddle in 1967, Elia was back in the minors for the entire season, playing shortstop first for Indianapolis, then following his purchase by the Cubs, for Tacoma.

Lee’s 2nd and final season in the majors was a non-factor, as he played in 15 games scattered throughout the 1968 season, mostly as a pinch-hitter. He also played in triple-A that year.

He played only 20 games in the minors in 1969 for the Cubs and Yankees, then didn’t play again until 16 games in 1973 for the Phillies’ AAA team. That would be his final season as a player.

After his playing career Elia managed in the Phillies’ organization for a few seasons, then was the Phillies’ bench coach from 1980-81. He followed Dallas Green to Chicago after the 1981 season and managed the Cubs in 1982 and 1983. Returning to the Phillies as a coach for 1985-87, he also managed the team in ’87 and ’88. He subsequently held various coaching and scouting jobs with the Phillies and others.