“To be selected to the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame is a huge honor. Just to be on the list with all the other athletes from Sacramento, WOW! I know that as far back as Little League we always played with a lot of energy and pride. I’m proud to be from Sacramento, California.”
Major League Baseball
High School: Grant
* MLB Career: 8 Years (St. Louis, San Diego, Cleveland,
Los Angeles Dodgers)
* Japanese Career: 11 years (Lotte Orions)
* Highest Lifetime Batting Average in Japanese League History
The Lee family name is well known in the Sacramento area. Born in Bakersfield, LeRon is the oldest of six children. He moved to Sacramento as a child. He attended Grant High School and was a multi sport star. He had 36 football scholarship offers – all from major 4-year universities. Instead he chose baseball, and began a professional career at age 18. LeRon’s high school talents were unmatched and he was selected as the number one draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969. He made his major league debut one year later. He had 10 multi-hit games in his rookie season and hit his first home run off of future hall of famer Ferguson Jenkins.
LeRon played three seasons with the Cardinals then went to the Padres, where he had 19 multi-hit games in his first season. The following year he batted .300 with an amazing 34 multi-hit games, including six 3-hit games. On July 4, 1972, Lee broke up a no-hit bid in the ninth inning by Tom Seaver of the New York Mets. That same year LeRon made the National League
After three seasons with the Padres, LeRon then played for the Cleveland Indians where he had 13 multi-hit games. In a game against the Royals he hit a home run and a grand slam to drive in all five runs for a 5-2 victory. He later signed with the Dodgers as a free agent, playing there for two seasons before ending his major league career. But this is where LeRon’s career was really just beginning.
In 1977, he made a bold move that would be revolutionary. He took his talents to Japan and played for the Lotte Orions for 11 amazing years. He holds the Japanese record for highest lifetime batting average of .320. He led the league in home runs and RBI’s in his first season, and won the batting title in 1980 with an average of .358. LeRon’s records in the Japanese League were monumental. He is the all-time home run leader as an American player with 283. He batted over .300 for 10 consecutive years. He hit 20 home runs in his first 40 games. He was an All-Star eight times and broke or tied records by legendary Japanese superstars Kawakami and Sadaharu O.
In 1978, he invited younger brother Leon to play in Japan, and the brothers formed a powerful attack for the Orions. Before the arrival of LeRon American players mostly played in Japan when their careers were winding down. Lee revolutionized the Japanese view of foreign players by playing in Japan during his prime, raising the standard for all foreign players thereafter.
He even played a part in Hollywood movie making as he was the inspiration of the 1992 film “Mr. Baseball” starring Tom Selleck.
After retiring from the Japanese League, he went on to become the batting coach for the Oakland A’s in 1989 when they won the World Series. The Lee family name lives strong and baseball will always be in their blood. LeRon’s nephew is former all star and world champion Derrek Lee. Together they have formed one of the most successful baseball families of all time.