Jim Lonborg, 1967 Cy Young Award Winner
Celebrities who gave up dentistry for stardom — and vice versa!
For the Boston Red Sox, the 1967 American League pennant race was known as “the Impossible Dream.” The man who made it come true was Jim Lonborg, a mild-mannered pre-med student from Stanford University. With the Minnesota Twins up 2-0 in the sixth inning of the last game, Lonborg started a hitting rally with a bunt single up third. By the time cleanup batter Carl Yastrzemski was up, the bases were loaded. Yaz hit a single, two runners scored and the game was tied. By the end of the inning, the Sox were up 5-2… and that’s where they would stay. Lonborg’s last pitch of the game became a pop fly safely tucked into shortstop Rico Petrocelli’s glove. The crowd’s euphoria focused on Lonborg, who was swallowed by a field-rushing mob of fans.
“Initially it was what you would dream about in Little League,” Lonborg later told MLB.com. But as the mob tore at his clothing, things got a little bit scary. “Thank God for the Boston police, they were able to control the crowd,” he said. “It was delirium.”
These days, the septuagenarian Dr. Lonborg can often be found at his dental office, located about 30 miles beyond the Green Monster. When an off-season skiing injury sidelined him for good, “Gentleman Jim” opted for a career in dentistry instead of going to medical school as he had once planned. He graduated from Tufts Dental School in 1983 and went into private practice soon afterward.
“I was blessed to be a Major League ballplayer for 15 years and to come into a beautiful career like dentistry,” Lonborg said in the same interview. “It’s hard to compare. The life of a dentist is a little more realistic, a little more grounded. I’ve enjoyed my patients and their families, and providing service to them.”