Larry Lee – Head Coach – Baseball Coaches
Head Coach • 20th season
Pepperdine ’83 (Masters: Cal Poly ’85)
Cal Poly head baseball coach Larry Lee elevated Mustang’s baseball program to a level of play that reached the top echelon of the NCAA’s Division I West Region.
From 2012 to 2019, Lee guided the Mustangs to 268 wins, the seventh-highest total among the 24 California schools with Division I baseball programs. Averaging 34 wins per season over those eight campaigns, the win total is eighth among 46 NCAA West Region schools. Additionally, from 2012 to 2014, Cal Poly averaged 41 wins per year with 123 wins, more than any other Division I team in California.
Lee is entering his 20th season at the helm in 2022, having led Cal Poly to ten 30-win campaigns, a 577-455-2 mark (56.0 winning percentage) and 16 Big West top-four finishes, including three consecutive second places. from 2017-19. Aside from the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, the Mustangs have averaged 32 wins per season under Lee’s leadership.
Cal Poly has finished first in the Big West Conference once, second six times (2005, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019) and third in 2011 with Lee at the helm. The Mustangs have won 35 or more on six occasions, winning their first Big West Conference championship in 2014 and earning three NCAA Division I playoff berths.
From 2011-2019, Lee guided the Mustangs to wins in 54 of 81 Big West Series, a 66.7 winning percentage. The Mustangs won seven of eight conference series in 2014 and 2017.
An assistant coach for the 2017 USA Baseball College national team that won each of its series against Chinese Taipei, Cuba and Japan for the first time since 2002, Lee ranks No. 1 in the Big West in wins ( 577), surpassing the state of Fresno. Bob Bennett and No. 1 in the Big West in conference wins (250). He won 1,037 total games in 35 seasons as a head coach.
The 2014 Big West Conference Coach of the Year arrived at Cal Poly in July 2002 after 16 highly successful seasons as head coach at nearby Cuesta College. Lee was inducted into the California Community College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.
The Mustangs earned their first NCAA Division I regional playoff berth in 2009, returned to the playoffs in 2013 at UCLA, giving the Bruins their toughest test of the playoffs as UCLA overcame a deficit of 4-0 in the second round en route to the 2013 College World Series Championship and qualified for the 2014 playoffs, hosting the San Luis Obispo Regional and finishing 2-2.
The historic 2014 campaign saw Cal Poly break the school record with 47 wins, finishing 47-12. The Mustangs, ranked No. 1 for a week by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper after sweeping Cal State Fullerton in mid-April, won the Big West title with a 19-5 record, two games ahead of Long Beach State and four ahead of UC Irvine. . The Mustangs have posted 13 winning seasons and eleven 30-win campaigns since 2000 and the team’s 47 wins in 2014 marked the second straight year and fourth time in school history that Cal Poly has won 40 games. or more.
Despite a 34-player roster with 24 freshmen and sophomores, the 2016 team posted a 32-25 record, opening the year with 25 wins in 38 games and tied for first in the Big West before stepping back. The 2017 team battled from a 2-9 start to even a 28-28 finish and claimed second place in the Big West at 16-8. The 2018 team won its last seven contests to finish 30-27 and another conference second-place finish while the 2019 team earned the Big West program’s third straight second-place finish and took conference title aspirations in the last day of the season before falling to eventual champion UC Santa Barbara.
Last year, before the COVID-19 shutdown, Cal Poly upset No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Vanderbilt in the MLB4 tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona, and also beat No. 5 Michigan. The 2021 team has won seven straight and 11 of its last 12 contests to finish 31-25 and tied for fourth in the Big West with Brooks Lee earning five All-America honors and Drew Thorpe one.
Lee guided the Mustangs to a 38-23-1 mark in 2004, his second season at Cal Poly, to break the school record for single-season wins in the Division I era and the 2013 team to 40 wins, one shy of what was the school’s all-time record for wins in a season (41 in 1977 and 1992).
In 2005, the Mustangs won 36 games and finished second in the Big West with victories over Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State. The 2006 team has won 11 of 17 three-game series while the 2007 Mustangs have won 19 of their last 27 en route to a 32-24 record.
In 18 seasons with the Mustangs, Lee produced 48 first-team All-Big West players, 11 All-Americans and nine first-year All-Americans. A total of 78 Cal Poly players coached by Lee have signed professional baseball contracts, including 76 in the past 17 years.
During Lee’s tenure, 33 Mustangs were drafted in the first 10 rounds, led by outfielder Mitch Haniger, a first-round pick (38th overall) by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012. Southpaw Garrett Olson was picked in the first round (compensatory) in 2005 (48th overall) and right-handed pitcher Jimmy Shull was picked twice (fourth round in 2005, eighth round in 2004). Cal Poly had only eight rookies in the first 10 rounds before Lee arrived. Eleven of Lee’s Cal Poly players made it to the majors, compared to nine Mustangs who played in the majors from the 1930s through the early 2000s.
Southpaw Matt Imhof was a second-round pick from Philadelphia in 2014, right-hander Spencer Howard was a second-round pick by the Phillies in 2017, second baseman Mark Mathias was picked by the Cleveland Indians in the third round of the draft of 2015 and pitcher Erich Uelmen went to the fourth round in 2017, won by the Chicago Cubs. In 2018, Alex McKenna was selected in the fourth round by the Houston Astros and Nick Meyer was selected in the sixth round by the New York Mets. Right-hander Bobby Ay, a ninth-round pick from the Arizona Diamondbacks, was the only Mustang drafted in 2019 while Taylor Dollard, another right-hander, was picked by the Seattle Mariners in the fifth round after the 2020 campaign and the Mariners also picked Bryan Woo in the sixth round of the 2021 draft.
Lee led Cuesta to the California Community College State Final Four four times, all in the last 11 years of his 16-year tenure. The Cougars reached the state Final Four in 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2002 and qualified for the Southern California Regionals each of the past six years, including a No. 1 seed in 1999 and No. 2 in 2002.
Lee’s overall record at Cuesta was 460-241-3, including a state-leading 44 wins in 1997. His teams qualified for regionals 11 times in his last 13 years and Lee was No. 15 on the state’s community college baseball coaching roster. for career wins before being hired at Cal Poly. He was inducted into the California Community College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Under Lee’s leadership, Cuesta won nine Western State Conference titles, including six in a row (1997-2002), and averaged 38 wins during that six-year span. His teams produced a 267-119 record in conference play, and Lee won Conference Coach of the Year honors eight times.
During Lee’s tenure at Cuesta from 1987 to 2002, he produced 26 all-state players, three Southern California Players of the Year, and numerous pros. Thirteen of its 16 teams finished above the .500 mark overall, including the last seven.
Lee led his 2002 team to a school-best 24-game winning streak en route to a 43-9 mark and a third-place finish in the state.
In 11 playoff appearances, Lee’s teams at Cuesta compiled a 34-28 win-loss record.
A 1979 graduate of San Luis Obispo High School, Lee was a standout baseball and football player for the Tigers before playing baseball at Santa Barbara City College (1980), Orange Coast College (1981) and the Pepperdine University (1982-83).
An inductee into the San Luis Obispo High School Athletics Hall of Fame, Lee was a first-team All-South Coast Conference selection at Orange Coast College as well as a second-team All-Southern California selection.
At Pepperdine, Lee was a career .304 hitter and, as a junior, earned first-team All-Southern California Baseball Association and second-team All-District 8 honors as the Waves posted a record 46. -21-1 and gained a place. in the NCAA West Regional at Fresno State.
Lee hit 13 sacrificial flies for Pepperdine in 1982, an NCAA record at the time. He is currently tied for No. 2 with two other players for sacrificial flies in a season.
He enjoyed a brief professional baseball career, playing one year for the Utica Bluesox (1983) and hitting .316 for the New York-Penn League team. He finished his career in the Seattle Mariners organization.
Before becoming head coach at Cuesta College in 1987, Lee served as an assistant coach for the Cougars for two seasons (1984-85) and at Cal Poly for one year (1986).
Lee earned his BS in Physical Education/Kinesiology from Pepperdine in 1983 and a Masters in Physical Education from Cal Poly in 1985 as well as an Adaptive Physical Education degree from Cal Poly in 1988.
Lee and his wife, Liz, reside in San Luis Obispo with their two children, Jenna and Brooks, a second-year shortstop with the Mustangs.