“I'm honored to be going into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame and joining the other great local athletes being inducted as well as past inductees. I love Sacramento and am proud to be a part of the great sports tradition. Thank you to the fans for considering me one of the best Sac Town athletes!”
High School: El Camino
* MLB Career: 14 Years (San Diego, Florida, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta, Baltimore,
* 2 Time All-Star Selection (2005, 2007)
* 3 Time Gold Glove Award Winner (2003, 2005, 2007)
* National League Batting Champion (2005)
* World Series Champion (2003)
Derrek Lee was born into baseball. Both his father, Leon, and his uncle, Leron, were drafted by Major League teams and then played professionally in Japan. This alone is rare, but traveling from Sacramento to Japan for eight years is something extremely unique. At two years old, Derrek started spending his summers overseas until the 3rd grade when he attended school there full time. He spent all of his free time with his dad at the ballpark and soon he started to develop his skills. Derrek returned to Sacramento for school at age 11 and began playing his first games in organized baseball. He played at Whitney Little League, where he started showing his talent.
Derrek attended El Camino High School where he played Varsity Baseball and Basketball. He actually loved playing basketball more. He was an All-City selection his senior year, and could have played college basketball. He actually had a hand written letter from legendary coach, Dean Smith that offered him a chance to fulfill a childhood dream of playing at the University of North Carolina. His baseball accolades were numerous, including being selected to the USA Junior Olympic Team and being named the Sacramento Bee Player of the Year. He had a state record batting average of .550 and was planning to play collegiately at North Carolina, where he could play both sports. But his destiny to the diamond was set in motion long ago. Derrek’s talent allowed him the option to turn pro immediately after high school.
In 1993, Derrek was a first round draft pick of the San Diego Padres being selected 14th overall. He was traded in 1998 to the Florida Marlins who just won the World Series in only their 5th year of existence. After trading many of their previous year’s players, Florida was a very young team. The first two years were rough as they lost over 100 games each year. That changed in 2003 when the Marlins appeared in the World Series again. This time, Derrek was a key member as their everyday first baseman. He won his first Gold Glove award that season and a World Series Championship as the Marlins defeated the New York Yankees in 6 games.
The next season the Marlins again traded some of their best players, and Derrek was one of them. At first he was disappointed, but quickly realized he was about to step into an ideal situation playing for his long time role model and friend, Dusty Baker. According to Derrek, “My seven years in Chicago were the best years in my career. It was great for my family. My daughter could watch me play.” At first, it took time for Cubs fans to warm up to Derrek. After all, the season before he was part of the enemy as the Cubs lost to the Marlins in the National League Championship Series.
Derrek became one of the most beloved Cubs during his time there. In 2005, he hit a career high 46 home runs and was the National League Batting Champion hitting 335: the highest in club history since 1976. His batting title was the first for a Cubs player in 25 years. In 2006, Derrek played for team USA in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, where he was managed by fellow Sacramentan Buck Martinez. Derrek was the first player to hit a Home Run for team USA.
Derrek suffered injuries including a torn tendon in his thumb, and a badly broken hand after being hit by a pitch. These injuries helped make the decision to leave the game and spend more time with his family. Derrek had an outstanding 14 year Major League career hitting 331 Home Runs with 1,078 RBI and a lifetime batting average of .281. He was a 2-time All-Star selection, 3-time Gold Glove Award winner, National League Batting Champion and a World Series Champion.
With all his success on the field, Derrek has always been humble and appreciative of his opportunities. He has displayed true professionalism and played the game with class and integrity. He fits like a glove into the rich Sacramento baseball tradition and is one of our city’s greatest players.
Today, Derrek has his Real Estate license and is following another passion; working as a developer. The Lee family name will always be synonymous with Sacramento baseball and Derrek has represented his family and hometown proudly.