Lee with the Baltimore Orioles in 2011
|Born: September 6, 1975|
|April 28, 1997, for the San Diego Padres|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 28, 2011, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Runs batted in||1,078|
|Career highlights and awards|
Derrek Leon Lee (born September 6, 1975), or "D-Lee", is a former Major League Baseball first baseman. Lee played with the San Diego Padres (1997), the Florida Marlins (1998-2003), Chicago Cubs (2004-2010), Atlanta Braves (2010), Baltimore Orioles (2011) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2011). He batted and threw right-handed.
Lee was born on September 6, 1975 in Sacramento, California. Leon Lee is his father and Leron Lee is his uncle. Each of them played professional baseball in Japan. During his elementary years Lee lived in Japan, and during his high school years he often lived there during his summer breaks. He played Little League Baseball at Whitney Little League and graduated from El Camino High School in 1993.
Lee was drafted in the first round (14th overall) of the 1993 Major League Baseball draft by the San Diego Padres, and made his major league debut on April 28, 1997.
Traded, along with prospects, to the Florida Marlins a year later for Kevin Brown, Lee was a member of the 2003 World Series Marlins championship team. Lee won his first Gold Glove during the 2003 championship season and his spectacular grab and unassisted putout on a hard hit Hideki Matsui one-hop line drive snuffed out a Yankees rally and ended Game 5 of the World Series with a Marlins victory. The Marlins went on to win the World Series in Game 6.
Lee was traded to the Cubs for Hee-seop Choi. He hit .278 with 32 home runs and 98 RBIs in his first year with the Cubs. In 2005, Lee had a career first half of the season, with an MLB-leading .376 batting average, 72 RBIs, and a tie for the major league lead in home runs with 27.
The Cubs had traded superstar Sammy Sosa, who had previously been one of their best hitters, before the 2005 season. Lee showed early on that he could more than compensate for the loss, and while Sosa had a disappointing 2005 season with the Baltimore Orioles, Lee had a career year. By midseason, he was among MLB's leaders in each of the triple crown categories: batting average, home runs, and RBIs. Lee hit his 200th career home run on August 28, 2005, off Florida Marlins starter Josh Beckett. He finished the year with a career-best 46 HR. His .335 batting average was the highest by a Cub since Bill Madlock's .339 in 1976 and made him the first Cub since Bill Buckner in 1980 to win a National League batting title. He also won the Gold Glove at first base that year.
On April 10, 2006, Lee signed a five-year, $65 million extension with the Chicago Cubs. The deal replaced his contract for the 2006 season and extended him as the Cubs' first baseman through the 2010 season and included a no-trade clause. He broke his wrist less than two weeks later, in a collision involving baserunner Rafael Furcal, and he missed 59 games due to the injury. The Cubs posted a 19-40 record during Lee's stint on the disabled list. Later, Lee went back on the disabled list with a post-traumatic inflammation in the outer bone of the medial side of the wrist.
In 2008, Lee hit 20 home runs, 90 RBIs and had a .291 batting average as the Cubs had the best regular-season record in the National League, leading the Cubs to the NL Central championship, later losing in the NLDS to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-0. In 2009, Lee ranked ninth in the voting for NL MVP, as he had a .306 batting average, and hit for 35 home runs and 111 RBIs.
On June 9, 2010, Lee hit his 300th career home run in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
On June 25, 2010, Lee was involved in a dugout altercation with Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano after the pitcher gave up four runs in the first inning and apparently blamed Lee for failing to field a sharply-hit lead-off double. Zambrano was suspended for his behavior.
In late July 2010 Lee used his ten and five rights to veto a trade to the Los Angeles Angels. On August 18, 2010, Lee, with his approval, was traded to the Atlanta Braves for minor league pitching prospects Robinson Lopez, Tyrelle Harris, and Jeffrey Lorick. Lee began to serve as the Braves' starting first baseman on August 20, 2010, including postseason play in the NLDS.
Lee was signed from free agency to a one-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles for the 2011 season. He played in 85 games with the struggling Orioles, batting .246 with 12 home runs and 41 runs batted in.
On July 30, 2011, Lee was traded to the Pirates for minor league Class A first baseman Aaron Baker and cash considerations. Lee hit two home runs in his first game as a Pirate. He was hit by a pitch and broke a bone in his left wrist on August 3, and missed most of the next month, but then finished the season productively as the Pittsburgh first baseman. Playing in 28 games as a Pirate in 2011, Lee batted .337 with 7 home runs and 18 RBIs.
Lee is the son of Leon Lee. Leon never played in the Major Leagues, but did play professionally in Japan. Today, he is a scout for Major League Baseball and, coincidentally, he was the scout who "found" Hee-Seop Choi who was later traded for his son. Lee is the nephew of former Major League outfielder Leron Lee, who played eight seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Dodgers, Indians, and Padres. Currently, he works with the Cincinnati Reds as an advising batting coach to scouted players.
In September 2006, Lee's three-year-old daughter Jada was diagnosed with Leber's congenital amaurosis, a rare genetic disease resulting in loss of vision. Lee and Boston Celtics co-owner and CEO Wyc Grousbeck with the University of Iowa established Project 3000 in an effort to eradicate the disease, which affects both their families. Lee guest starred in an episode of NBC's drama series ER, "Gravity", which was first broadcast in October 2007. Lee agreed to the brief appearance because the producers of ER aired an episode in January 2008 that deals with Leber's congenital amaurosis. Lee's efforts to raise awareness and funds for research into the condition have helped to raise over $1,000,000 of additional research funds. An eventual cure for the disease depends greatly on getting data on patients and Lee's support has had a significant impact both in fundraising and testing patients who have the disease.
In 2009, Lee revealed that Jada had been misdiagnosed and does not have the disease, but Lee continues to be active in raising money for Project 3000.
The 1st Touch Foundation was established in 2005 by Lee and his wife as a vehicle to encourage and support the educational aspirations of the community's young people. The initial vision was to build The 1st Touch Academic Youth Center in Sacramento, California. In 2009, Lee unveiled a cabernet wine called CaberLee through Charity Wines where 100% of the proceeds will benefit the 1st Touch Foundation. However, in September 2012, the foundation closed after helping children in Sacramento for seven years.
Lee has visited countries such as Uganda and Israel to help out with the baseball programs. He visited the Israel Baseball Academy in 2015 helping them out with skills while visiting the country.