Eddie Leon is a significant part of baseball history beyond his storied careers at Tucson High School and Arizona.
As a sophomore middle infielder at Arizona in 1965, Leon was drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Twins — the first opening-round draft pick in Twins history in what was major league baseball’s first draft.
He was drafted in the first round again in 1966 by the Chicago Cubs. He finally signed with the Cleveland Indians after his senior season in 1967 after the Indians drafted in the second round.
Ahead of the MLB draft that starts tomorrow, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune today published a story on Leon, a retired real-estate developer in Tucson, about his distinction in Twins history.
Leon was drafted as the ninth pick overall by the Twins but was not overly thrilled, as detailed by Star-Tribune writer Phil Miller.
“I said, ‘Oh, that’s probably not good,’ ” Leon told Miller. “I knew the reputation of (Twins owner Calvin) Griffith, that he didn’t spend money.”
According to Leon in the story, the Twins offered him what amounted to $7,500 in cash at the time despite being the second-best college prospect. Meanwhile, the top prospect, ASU outfielder Rick Monday, was offered a $100,000 bonus to sign with the Kansas City Athletics.
Leon turned down a $50,000 offer by the Cubs the following year and returned for his senior season with Frank Sancet and the Wildcats. After graduating with a civil engineering degree, he signed for $20,000 with the Indians and embarked on a career that included six years in the majors, most of it with the Indians. He had a .236 career batting average in 601 games.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.