An Impossible Dreamer
Catching up with Jim Lonborg
He was the ace of the staff during one of the greatest summers in Boston Red Sox history.
Jim Lonborg enjoyed seven seasons (1965-71) with the Sox, and is most noted for his magical 1967 season. That year, Lonborg won the Cy Young by posting a 22-9 record and a 3.16 ERA, leading the Impossible Dream Sox to the American League pennant and their first trip to the World Series since 1946.
"When you start to go over the different segments of the season and how we came into spring training as a last place team with a new manager there wasn't a whole lot of people that thought we would do much better," Lonborg said.
"If a lot of those people looked at the way we played at the end of 1966 I think we had the second best record in the American League. There were a lot of positive thoughts being carried over the winter that made us believe in ourselves."
These days, the 63-year-old Lonborg resides in Scituate with his wife Rosemary. The two of them have six children, ranging in age from 23-35, and one grandchild, with another on the way.
"We really developed a lot of great friendships in the region," Lonborg said about continuing to live in New England. "We love the seasons and my wife is from New Jersey, so this is a comfortable area for her. We are made to feel at home here partly because of all those great years with the Red Sox."
A graduate of Tufts Dental School, Lonborg is now known as Dr. Lonborg and runs his own dentistry practice.
"I was a pre-med student in college and always had a keen interest in the health-care field," said Lonborg. "When I got into professional baseball during the offseason I would work in different medical facilities.
"When baseball came to a close I was on a vacation in Vermont and my wife just casualty threw out 'why don't you become a dentist?' The more we talked about it the more it became a conceivable thing and Tufts had a three-year dental program you could just go straight through. It was a lot of hard work, but it was a field where I could be my own boss and control my hours and be able to make a respectable living."
So, what do his patients think about having a living legend be their dentist?
"They forget about the legend part and are more concerned about on whether or not I could do good dentistry," said Lonborg. "They are in my office because they have an issue with healthcare in regard to their teeth."
Outside of work, Lonborg enjoys many activities that revolve around the different seasons.
"In the winter we like to ski and in the spring we play golf and I do a lot of gardening," said Lonborg. "I enjoy reading and being outside as much as I can depending on what season it is."
Lonborg signed with the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1963 and it wasn't long before he made his debut with Boston in 1965.
In 1971, Longborg was traded from the Red Sox along with Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe Lahoud, Don Pavletich, and George Scott to the Milwaukee Brewers for Marty Pattin, Lew Krausse, Tommy Harper, and Pat Skrable.
"We were disappointed to leave Boston," said Lonborg. "I had finished up the 1971 season with about five or six wins in a row. I felt like I was pitching very well at the time. We loved being in Boston and it was a big shock. It was the first time I had been traded and it was like leaving a part of the family."
Lonborg then played only one season in Milwaukee before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he played seven seasons (1973-79) before retiring. For his career, Lonborg played a total of 15 seasons in the majors, finishing with a 157-137 record and 3.63 ERA.
"I'm very happy with having been able to spend 15 years in the big leagues and compile the record that I did," Lonborg said.
Lonborg was thrilled to see the Sox finally win the World Series last October, and enjoyed partaking in the Opening Day ceremonies at Fenway Park.
"It was so great to be included in the ceremonies," said Lonborg. "The new ownership has really reached out to the veteran ballplayers. It was great to be on the field with the players and it was great to see the fans and how they responded to all the joy having the flag go up and the presentation of the rings. It was great to be a part of the family again."