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 “I can’t begin to say how grateful I am to be elected into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame. It is even extra special to now be included with my son, Derrek and brother Leron along with all the other great athletes.”

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Leon Lee

Professional Baseball


High School:  Grant

* 17 Year professional career:

*  10 years NPB Japan: (Lotte Orions, Yokohama Taiyo Whales, Yakult Swallows)  

* .299 Career Batting Average

* 269 Career Home Runs
* 1,436 Career Hits
* 884 Career RBI

Leon Lee is part of the legendary Lee family, whose name is synonymous with baseball in Sacramento.  Since the 1960’s when you heard the name Lee and baseball, you knew those two words would be associated with power-hitting, talented baseball players.


Leon, like his older brother, Leron was a fantastic baseball player.  The brothers ironically took the same path.  First at Del Paso Little League, then at Grant High School, followed by being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals; and later rising to stardom in the Japanese Professional League. 


Leon grew up in Del Paso Heights and was known as one of the most feared hitters the city of Sacramento has ever seen.  Not only known for his power, but he was one of the most versatile players, playing first base, third base and the outfield.  Leon was also an outstanding football player  at Grant.


In 1971, Leon was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals.  At that time, he had a football scholarship offer from Tulsa University.  Leon chose baseball and spent seven years in the Cardinals minor league system.  Leon decided he needed to look for other options.  Leron was having great success in Japan and wanted his younger brother to join him.  The Cardinals obliged and sold his contract to the Lotte Orions of the Japan Central League, where he would join his brother. 


At that time, each team could only have two American players. Leon found his groove and the Lee’s were dominating Japanese baseball, each hitting over .300 while smashing home runs at an incredible rate.  Batting 3rd and 4th in the order, the Lee’s hit back-to-back homers 12 times in one season. They even did it twice in one game.  Leon’s best year was in 1980 when hit .340 with 41 home runs and 116 RBI. He led the Pacific league in total bases and finished second in the batting race just behind his brother.  They played together on the same team for five years.


In 1982, Leon was traded to Yokohama of the Central League where he continued to dominate.  In 1985, he had 110 RBI with 10 in one game.  In 1986, he had 98 RBI’s with 35 home runs.  The following year his batting average was .300 at the age of 35.  Leon was named to the Best Nine team twice, in 1980 & 1986.  He held the record for most home runs by a foreign-born player.  He ranks 10th all-time in Japanese Professional Baseball in batting average with players having at least 4,000 at bats. It just so happens that his big brother is the all-time leader.  


Leon was one of the best hitters the league has ever seen. He crushed 269 home runs while accumulating 1,436 hits and 884 RBI.  In a 17-year professional career he has a lifetime batting average of .299.  He will go down as one of the greatest American players to ever play Japanese Professional Baseball.  So much so, that Hollywood came calling and depicted Leon’s journey in the 1992 movie Mr. Baseball, starring Tom Selleck. Leon served as the technical director  and consultant. 


After retiring, Leon turned to coaching and managing.  He was the first African-American manager in the history of the Japanese League.  He also was the Pacific Rim Scout for the Chicago Cubs along with coaching stints in the United States including in the New York Mets organization.


Baseball success continued in the Lee family as Leon’s son, Derrek went on to have an amazing 15-year Major League Baseball career.  Leon and Derrek become the first father and son tandem to be inducted in the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame.  With Leron, the three of them are the only multi-family members to have that distinction. 


With the array and generations of tremendous baseball talent from Sacramento, the Lee family stands at the top for their great success on the field but also for the dignity and class that each of them possesses and demonstrates with their roots firmly entrenched in Sacramento.

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