Cal Poly Baseball head coach Larry Lee was announced as the 43rd Manager for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
The USA collegiate team is a cumulation of the nation’s best amateur ball players. The typical team has a total of 45 to 48 roster spots broken up into two squads: Stars and Stripes. The roster has yet to be announced.
The Big West Conference’s winningest manager was previously on the 2017 USA team’s staff as an assistant; however, this is the first time Lee will be the manager.
“It’s always an honor to represent your country in anything,” Lee said. “[I’m] just excited to be around the best players in college baseball and some of the better coaches in college baseball.”
Lee has accrued 614 victories at the Division-I level for the Mustangs in his 20-year career, along with reaching the NCAA Division-I Regionals on three different occasions.
On top of the team’s success, 36 Mustangs have been drafted under his tutelage in the first 10 rounds of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Lee stated that he has been asked before by Team USA to become the manager but has declined the offer because of circumstances within Cal Poly’s program and personal endeavors.
“I just came to a conclusion that if I don’t do this, I’ll never do it,” Lee said. “It’s an honor, but it wasn’t a dream of mine. … This was never a dream job for me.”
In a news release by USA Baseball, General Manager of Collegiate and Professional Teams Eric Campbell praised Lee’s leadership and what he will bring to the team.
“We are confident that [Lee] will provide valuable leadership to the young men on our roster, which will feature college baseball’s best once again this year,” Campbell said.
One example of how he will show this leadership comes with his roster decisions.
“It’s a gradual process, but there’s gonna be a lot of decisions that will be made as the season progresses,” Lee said of forming this year’s squad.
Team USA’s schedule is undefined at the moment, with the only public knowledge being all events will be held between June 24 and July 14.
Lee confirmed a five-game series with Japan; however, he stated that Team USA needs help scheduling other countries this year because habitual opponents, Chinese Taipei and Cuba, are still fighting through COVID-19 complications.
Although he has been honored with the position as Team USA’s manager, Lee states he’s solely focused on the upcoming Mustang season and has put “zero” effort into Team USA.
After 20 years at the helm of the Mustangs, Lee does not consider this his crowning achievement.
“I wouldn’t call it a great resume,” Lee said. “For me, being consistent over a long period of time, or developing players to get a chance to play at the next level, and having a number of those players reach the major league level, outweighs anything outside of the program.”
At 63 years old, Lee admittedly states he’s in the “latter third” of his career, yet he doesn’t see the sun setting anytime soon.
“As long as we can get better as a program and be competitive against the best teams in the country…That’s what will keep me here,” Lee said.“They’ll come to a point where I’ll want to have the ability to walk away and see my son play at any time.”
Lee and Cal Poly Baseball have already kicked off their season and the head coach will look to lead his squad to his second Big West title come the end of May.