Gene Lamont was a Chicago Cubs fan all his life, growing up in Kirkland, Illinois and attending Western Illinois University. He was selected in the 1st round, as the 13th pick, of the 1965 amateur draft, and came up with them as a September call-up in 1970, when he had 13 hits in 44 at bats. The following year, he had only 15 at bats and only 1 hit. In his biggest year, he had 92 at bats, playing as a backup to Tigers catcher Jerry Moses. After 1975, his major league career, spent entirely with the Tigers, was over. He bounced around in the minors, on triple-A Evansville (with such players as Tom Brookens and Jerry Manuel) before stopping. He ended with a lifetime batting average of .233, with 4 home runs and 14 RBI in 87 games played. He had 37 hits in 159 at bats, and stole 1 base.
The highlight of his time as a player had been a home run in his first at bat of his career off the Boston Red Sox' Cal Koonce. However, his career would go on as a manager, beginning soon in 1977 with the Kansas City Royals as a manager, managing their single-A Fort Meyers team for two years. After that, he guided double-A Jacksonville to a championship in 1982 and again in 1983, being named Southern League Manager of the Year in the former.
Finally after two seasons with Omaha in the minors, he had worked his way up to the majors, serving as a third base coach for Jim Leyland's 1986 Pirates team. By the early '90s, with the Pirates emergence as a contender, Lamont was being considered by some teams for a managing job.
In 1992, Jeff Torborg left the White Sox to take the managing job with the New York Mets, and Lamont was named manager of Chicago. That year, the Sox did well, finishing 86-76, 3rd in the American League's Western Division. However, the following year the White Sox finished 94-68 under Lamont and were first in the AL West for the first time since they won 99 games in 1983 under Tony La Russa. His team consisted of such stars as Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, Ellis Burks, Jack McDowell, Alex Fernandez, Jason Bere, and Wilson Alvarez. Lamont took home the AL Manager of the Year award that year, and the team lost in the American League Championship Series to the soon-to-be champs, the Toronto Blue Jays.
In 1994, a baseball strike took place. When it began, the White Sox had the best record in the league; but the following year, the team seemed really hurt by it, starting out with an 11-20 record before Lamont was fired and replaced by Terry Bevington.
Lamont returned to the Pirates and began coaching again, before Leyland left in 1997, giving Lamont the job of manager once again. He was the first Pirates manager to have been a catcher during his playing career since Billy Meyer (1948-1952). Amazingly, in his first year Lamont finished second with a young, inexperienced team that was widely predicted to finish last. His team often upset many NL teams vying for playoff spots. He came in 2nd place in the manager of the year voting behind Dusty Baker of the San Francisco Giants.
There was no continued success for the Pirates though, finishing in last place in the Central in 1998. After the terrible 2000 season, Lamont was fired and replaced by Lloyd McClendon.
He finished with a career record of 553-562, barely below .500 at .496, despite the many bad Pirates seasons. His all-time record in Chicago was 258-210, and he was 295-352 in Pittsburgh. Lamont had two first place finishes, counting the strike year.