Leon Lee

Leon Lee

Leon Lee (born December 4, 1952 in Bakersfield, California) is a former minor league baseball player and minor league manager. He played first base and third base during his career, batting and throwing right handed.

He is the father of Chicago Cubs player Derrek Lee.


Lee starred in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system as a first baseman for five seasons after graduating from high school however he was not able to reach the majors and moved to Japan at the suggestion of his older brother, Leron Lee, who was playing with the Lotte Orions Japanese baseball team, whom he joined in 1978, and played five seasons alongside his brother, hitting 41 home runs, 116 RBIs, with a .340 batting average in 1980, and subsequently becoming a successful player the Japanese league.

Lee was traded to the Yokohama Taiyo Whales in 1982, and continued his hitting prowess there however he was suddenly fired in 1985. He was re-hired by the Yakult Swallows, and played from 1986-1987 before returning to the United States, and in total he had spent 10 solid seasons in Japan.

After retiring, he worked as a minor league manager for the New York Mets, and as a scout for the Chicago Cubs, before returning to Japan as a hitting coach for the Orix BlueWave in 2003. The manager, Hiromichi Ishige, was fired in April, and Lee was promoted to manager. On May 17, 2003, the BlueWave faced the Nippon Ham Fighters, managed by Trey Hillman, for a battle between two American managers in Japan for the first time in 28 years. His team was a good offensive team, but the pitching staff marked a torrid 5.95 team ERA, and ended up in last place with a 48-88-4 record. Lee left the club at the end of the season, declining an offer to serve as hitting coach. He was the first African-American manager in Japanese baseball history. Lee also served as a consultant in the making of the 1992 film, Mr. Baseball. The film, starring Tom Selleck, detailed life in the Japanese professional baseball league from the point of view of an American player, based on older brother Leron Lee's experience in the country.

Career Statistics

Japanese Professional Leagues

  • 1255 Games
  • 1436 Hits
  • 268 Home runs
  • 884 RBIs
  • .308 Career batting average

External links

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