(Leon Lee while skippering the Orix Blue Wave : we know where that hand has been)
The Brooklyn Cyclones manager who was fired before winning or losing a game, hopes for a second chance. From the New York Times’ Lee Jenkins.
A Florida prosecutor offered Lee a deal to drop two misdemeanor charges of having exposed himself. In return, the assistant state attorney would have required Lee to pay $500, perform 100 hours of community service, undergo a mental health evaluation and not be arrested in Florida for the next two years.
A superstar player would most likely have signed the agreement faster than a multimillion-dollar contract. But in Lee’s line of work, a victory has to be decisive enough to read off a scoreboard. If there is even the slightest stain on the reputation of a minor league manager or coach, it can spread until it covers him whole.
“There is no way I could take it,” Lee said. “It does me no good. It’s like saying I’m guilty. Being in baseball, I can’t leave any doubt.”
a group staying at the Holiday Inn last year told the police that Lee exposed himself to each of them individually in the fourth-floor hallway on April 5 and 6. Four of the women said in their statements that Lee tried to engage them in conversation while naked. Two told the police that he fondled himself in front of them.
On the night of April 6, the police were called to the hotel. On the morning of April 7, the Mets dispatched Rob Kasdon, their director of security, to Port St. Lucie. By April 8, Lee had been arrested and said that the Mets had forced him to resign, long before he had managed his first game in Brooklyn.
“I get so bitter when I think about the Mets,” Lee said. “There’s a code in baseball that when one guy leaves the bench, everybody leaves the bench. They didn’t leave the bench for me. They just left me hanging there.”
Lee said that the women were among a large group making noise on the fourth floor of the Holiday Inn. Because Lee was overseeing minor league players who were staying in the hotel for extended spring training, he said that he asked the group to quiet down on April 5 and again on April 6.
He said that male and female members of the group – all colleagues from out of town – then became belligerent with him, cursed at him and tried to have him thrown out of the hotel. Lee said that he was wearing workout clothes in his room each night. He said that once, after taking a shower on April 6, he poked his head out of the door wearing a towel around his waist.
Berger said that all five women were sticking to their original statements. Only one Mets minor league player who was present, Todd Dulaney, spoke with both investigators. Lee’s strongest witnesses may be the Holiday Inn employees who have lined up behind him.
According to court records, a hotel clerk who was working on April 5 and 6 told investigators from both sides that the women repeatedly changed their story, from saying that they saw Lee open his door and expose himself, to saying that they saw him run up and down the hallway naked.
The clerk told investigators that the women and the other people in their party were drinking. The guest manager on duty April 6 told investigators that the group was intoxicated. The hostess in the hotel restaurant on April 6 told investigators that the people in the party smelled of marijuana.
The three women who were interviewed by the prosecution’s investigator denied they were intoxicated or had smoked marijuana.
According to court records, when Lee’s investigator asked the clerk about the charges, she said, “I know it’s not true.” She then said, “It’s a lie.” And finally she added, “I’d go to court tomorrow if I had to.” The guest manager told the prosecution’s investigator that he believed the women and their friends “got together, started discussing it, and it was like a firecracker.”
The prosecution’s investigator wrote in his report that he was unable to understand the time frame in which any of the incidents occurred.
One of the five women, Cheniece Burke, 22, of Orlando, Fla., said when reached by telephone on Tuesday, “I was the first one he exposed himself to, and I just thought he was senile.”
Lee says he thinks less about the trial that could start in the next few months than he does about his next baseball job, which could be at least a year away. He has called the Mets to inquire about a minor league position, or at least get some restitution for his 2004 salary, but they have not called him back and they have declined to comment about him.
One year later, it is as if no one remembers who he is.
In Lee’s defense, there are a number of other individuals in Mets history accused of exposing themselves in public, Joe McIllvane, Cleon Jones, David Cone and Tom Sizemore lookalike Karim Garcia amongst them (given that this is an expansion franchise, that’s a pretty long list). None of these gentlemen saw their baseball careers end as the result of one accusation. I do not wish to diminish the seriousness of fondling oneself in public, but clearly, Lee was considered expendable.