A chat with the Stinger
Albert Lee (Stinger) Stange was born on October 27, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois. Lee was a great athlete in high school playing baseball, basketball, and football and winning all-state honors in the latter two sports. After graduating from high school and attending Drake University, Lee signed as a free agent with the Washington Senators in 1957. Stange spent 1957 and 1958 in class “D” ball at Fort Walton Beach before moving up to class “B” in 1959. In 1960 while still in class “B”, Stange won 20 games while losing 13 when he threw for 251 innings and finished the season with a 3.59 ERA. The following spring, 1961, in the Minnesota Twins initial spring training, Lee made the big league club, pitching in a couple of games before getting sent down and spending most of the season in AAA Syracuse before he was recalled to Minnesota in September. Stange spent the entire 1962 season with the Twins, starting 6 games but pitching primarily in relief. In 1963 Stange again started the season with Minnesota but in early May was again sent down to AAA where he ripped off a string of victories that forced the Twins hand and he was once again in the majors. After being recalled, Stange pitched primarily as a starter and won 12 games while losing just 5 and putting up an exceptional 2.62 ERA in 164+ innings. In June of 1964 Lee Stange and George Banks were traded to the Cleveland Indians for Jim “Mudcat” Grant. After pitching for the Indians for a couple of seasons Stange was once again traded, this time to the Red Sox in 1966. Stange pitched very well for the 1967 Red Sox and was involved in one of the greatest pennant races the American league history. Even though he finished with an 8-10 record, he led the Red Sox pitching staff with an ERA of just 2.77. The race was so tight that it was thought that a playoff game might be necessary to determine a pennant winner and Red Sox manager Dick Williams saved Stange to pitch that game. It turned out that an extra game was not needed and the Red Sox won the pennant and got the right to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Losing to Bob Gibson three times, the Red Sox went on to lose the World Series to the Cardinals 4 games to 3. Stange pitched for the Red Sox until June of 1970 when he was sold to the White Sox. After the 1970 season Stange’s body told him that enough was enough and Lee retired as an active player and went on to coaching and managing in the minors as well as serving as a pitching coach in the major leagues for the Minnesota Twins, the Oakland A’s, and the Boston Red Sox on two separate occasions. Today, Lee is semi-retired and serves as the pitching coach for Florida Tech, participates in fantasy baseball camps with the Twins and Red Sox, plays golf and is enjoying his family and life in Melbourne, Florida.
The SABR Baseball Biography Project write-up on Lee can be found here.
The interview with Lee is 58 minutes in length and took place in November 2009.