Draft Day Blues Nearly Turned Leon Lee
to Tulsa U
remembers the day he was drafted with disappointment.
The Grant High prep star was projected to be a top draft pick, along with
teammate Taylor Duncan. As sophomore, both had played on Grant’s 17-2 team that was
later selected as the “State Team of the Year” for 1969 by Cal-Hi Sports.
And in 1971 as seniors they led the area in hitting (Duncan .514, Lee at .508)
and took Grant to the city playoffs.
Lee was always known as the younger brother of St. Louis Cardinals pro Leron
Lee who was the first Sacramento area product to be selected in the first round of the MLB
draft (7th overall by St. Louis).
In his senior season, Leon remembers posting a 10-1 pitching mark for the
Pacers to go with that gaudy batting average. And when he didn’t pitch he played second base.
Although scouts weren’t sure of his future position, they knew he didn’t project as a
moundsman, and had reservations about him being a keystone infielder.
In 1971, the Chicago White Sox had the first pick in the draft. They called
Lee to ask if he could catch. “Of course I can catch,” he told them knowing his total
experience consisted of a few winter league games. “If we draft you in the first round, will
you agree to catch?” Lee balked, saying he didn’t see the benefit, since he already believed
he was going to be drafted in the first round. By basically telling them “no,” Lee committed
what he calls “