Friday, July 21, 2006

July 21st, 1955

Mark Lemongello Born

That was his name, believe it or not. Mark Lemongello. He came up to the Astros as a twenty year-old in 1976 after being signed by the Tigers before his eighteenth birthday in 1973. Lemongello was somewhat underwhelming as a pitcher; although he threw more than two hundred and ten innings for the 'Stros in both 1977 and 1978, he finished both years with around or below league average, and went 9-14 both times. He was traded as part of a package to Toronto that netted the Astros catcher Andy Ashby, which was probably Lemongello's greatest contribution to the Houston franchise.

I don't know whether his lack of success is to be blamed on the stress of living with a name like his, or whether or it something to do with the rather vacant expression that Mark wears in nearly every
photo I've seen of him. The latter might be more likely as Lemongello was a little, well, soft in the head. Following a bad appearance in Toronto he bit his shoulder until it bled. More seriously, he and another former pitcher Manny Seoane were later accused of kidnapping Lemongello's cousins (one a professional bowler and the other a lounge singer who had appeared on the Johnny Carson show) as part of some bizarre financial dispute; frankly this all sounds like a Coen Brothers movie to me.

News reports are a little unclear on what exactly became of Lemongello after he turned himself in, although they imply without actually saying that the cousins decided not to press charges. I'm equally unclear on what's become of him since; all I can report is that Lemongello is still alive, still has that name and (presumably) still wears that vacant expression at all times.

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