Rick Leach (baseball)

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Rick Leach
Rick Leach Michigan football 1975.png
Leach from 1976 Michiganensian
Outfielder / First baseman
Born: (1957-05-04) May 4, 1957 (age 59)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
April 30, 1981, for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
August 5, 1990, for the San Francisco Giants
MLB statistics
Batting average .268
Home runs 18
Runs batted in 183
Teams

Richard Max "Rick" Leach (born May 4, 1957) is a former college football player and professional baseball player.

Leach was an all-state quarterback at Flint Southwestern High School in 1974 before enrolling at the University of Michigan in 1975. He was Michigan's starting quarterback for four consecutive years from 1975 to 1978, leading the Wolverines to three consecutive Big Ten Conference championships and three appearances in the Rose Bowl. As a senior in 1978, he won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the most valuable player in the Big Ten, was selected as a first-team All-American, and finished third in balloting for the Heisman Trophy.

After being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the first round (13th overall pick) of the 1979 Major League Baseball Draft, Leach opted to play professional baseball. He played, primarily as a backup outfielder and first baseman for the Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays, from 1981 to 1990. He compiled a .268 batting average and .335 on-base percentage in 1,719 major league at bats.

Early years[edit]

Leach was born in 1957 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[1] He attended Flint Southwestern High School in Flint, Michigan.[1] He was selected as the first-team all-state quarterback by the Detroit Free Press in 1975.[2] He broke every passing record in the Saginaw Valley League and was also an all-conference player in baseball and basketball.[3] In 1998, a sports writer for the Detroit Free Press rated Leach as the fourth best quarterback to come out of a Michigan high school.[4]

University of Michigan[edit]

Leach enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1975. A left-hander, he was the Michigan Wolverines' starting quarterback from 1975 to 1978 under coach Bo Schembechler. As an 18-year-old freshman, he started 11 of 12 games for the 1975 Michigan Wolverines football team and led the team to an 8-2-2 record and #8 ranking in the final AP poll.[5] He rushed for 552 yards and passed for 680 yards as a freshman. In his freshman year, with the Big Ten championship and a berth to the 1976 Rose Bowl on the line in the Michigan-Ohio State game, Leach threw an interception that was run back to the Michigan 3-yard line by Ray Griffin and set up the winning touchdown in a 21-14 Buckeye victory.[6] However, Leach and the Wolverines never lost to Ohio State again in his career.

Leach (No. 7) with Bo Schembechler, 1975

As a sophomore, he started all 12 games at quarterback and led the 1976 team to a 10-2 record and #3 ranking in the final AP poll.[7] He passed for 973 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 638 yards and 10 touchdowns in 1976.

As a junior, he started all 12 games at quarterback and led the 1977 team to a 10-2 record and #9 ranking in the final AP poll.[8] He passed for 1,348 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 375 yards and seven touchdowns.

As a senior, he again started all 12 games at quarterback and led the 1978 team to a 10-2 record and #5 ranking in the final AP poll.[9] He passed for 1,283 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 611 yards and 12 yards. Leach won numerous individual honors in 1978, including the following:

Leach was the first NCAA Division I FBS player to pass for 200 points and score 200 points.[16] He continues to hold the NCAA record for highest percentage of passes for touchdowns (400-499 attempts) with 45 in 462.[17] One of the finest athletes in Michigan history, Leach was named All-Big Ten as a quarterback three times and also placed in the voting for the Heisman Trophy three times.

Leach shattered all Michigan's career passing, total offense and touchdown records. He set an NCAA record for most touchdowns accounted for (82) and broke Big Ten records for total offense (6,460 yards), total plays (1,034), and touchdown passes (48).

A standout on the diamond as well as the gridiron, Leach won the Big Ten batting championship as a junior and won the rare honor of being named All-American in both football and baseball.

In 1999, Sports Illustrated published a list of "The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Michigan" (in all sports), and ranked Leach 22nd. "The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Michigan," Sports Illustrated, December 27, 1999.

Career passing statistics[edit]

Season Att Comp Int Comp % Yds Yds/Comp TD Long
1975 100 32 12 32.0 680 21.3 3 83
1976 105 50 8 47.6 973 19.5 13 64
1977 174 90 9 51.7 1348 15.0 15 76
1978 158 78 6 49.4 1283 16.4 17 65
Career total 537 250 35 46.6 4284 17.1 48 83

Career rushing statistics[edit]

Season Att Yd+ Yd- Net Yd Yd/Att TD Long
1975 113 635 83 552 4.9 5 45
1976 114 735 97 638 5.6 10 48
1977 115 516 141 375 3.3 7 21
1978 145 803 192 611 4.2 12 45
Career total 487 2689 513 2176 4.5 34 48

Professional baseball[edit]

Leach was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the first round (13th overall pick) of the 1979 Major League Baseball Draft.[1] He was also drafted by the NFL's Denver Broncos in the 1979 NFL Draft, but opted for a career in baseball. He signed with the Tigers in June 1979 and received a $150,000 signing bonus.[18]

Leach spent the 1979 season playing for the Tigers' Class A farm club in Lakeland, Florida. He appeared in 48 games and compiled a .304 batting average and .402 on-base percentage and had 23 RBIs in 168 at bats.[19] In 1980, Leach was promoted to the Tigers' Class AAA team in Evansville, Indiana, where he compiled a .272 batting average and .386 on-base percentage with 58 RBIs in 430 at bats.[19]

After batting .386 for Evansville during April 1981, Leach was promoted to the Tigers' roster, making his major league debut in late April 1981.[20] He appeared in 54 games for the 1981 Tigers and compiled a disappointing .193 batting average in 83 at bats.[1] He remained with the Tigers for two more seasons, principally in a backup role, compiling batting averages of .239 in 1982 and .248 in 1983.[1] The Tigers released Leach on March 24, 1984.[21]

Leach spent most of the 1984 season with the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League.[19] He was picked up the Toronto Blue Jays and remained on their roster through the 1988 season. His best season was 1986 when he hit .309 in 110 games.[1]

Leach concluded his major league career with the Texas Rangers in 1989 and the San Francisco Giants in 1990.[1] In August 1990, after a positive drug test, Leach, at age 33, was placed on the 60-day disqualified list and agreed to enter drug rehabilitation.[22] In March 1991, the Giants asked waivers on Leach for the purpose of giving him an unconditional release.[23]

Later years[edit]

In 2008, Leach was elected to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Rick Leach". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  2. ^ Hal Schram (December 1, 1974). "Free Press All-State a 'Work of Art'". Detroit Free Press. p. 6E. 
  3. ^ "Thumbnail Sketches of 1st Team". Detroit Free Press. December 1, 1974. p. 6E. 
  4. ^ "Michigan's All-Time QBs". Detroit Free Press. August 27, 1998. p. 7. 
  5. ^ "1975 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  6. ^ *Park, Jack (2003). The Official Ohio State Football Encyclopedia: National Championship Edition. Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 1-58261-695-7. 
  7. ^ "1976 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  8. ^ "1977 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  9. ^ "1978 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Past Silver Football winners". Detroit Free Press. April 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Leach, Fusina are both All-Americans". Detroit Free Press. November 30, 1978. p. 3D – via Newspapers.com. 
  12. ^ "MSU, U-M dominate All-Big Ten". Detroit Free Press. December 7, 1978. p. 10D. 
  13. ^ "Michigan, Michigan State Dominate All-Big Ten Team". The Hour, Norwalk, Connecticut. November 29, 1978. p. 27. 
  14. ^ "Sims wins Heisman, Leach 3d". Detroit Free Press. November 29, 1978. p. D1. 
  15. ^ "Sad farewell for U-M's potent backfield". Detroit Free Press. January 3, 1979. p. 2D. 
  16. ^ "2009 Division I Football Records Book: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 13. Retrieved 2010-07-09. 
  17. ^ "2009 Division I Football Records Book: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 16. Retrieved 2010-07-09. 
  18. ^ Joe Lapointe (June 8, 1979). "Tigers get their man, sign Leach for $150,000". Detroit Free Press. p. D1. 
  19. ^ a b c "Rick Leach (minor league)". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 2, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Tigers call Leach from Evansville". Detroit Free Press. April 30, 1981. p. D1. 
  21. ^ Bill McGraw (March 25, 1984). "Release by Tigers stuns Leach". Detroit Free Press. p. 10D. 
  22. ^ "Giants' Leach fails drug test, is suspended". Detroit Free Press. August 7, 1990. p. D1. 
  23. ^ "Transactions". Detroit Free Press. March 20, 1991. p. 12D. 
  24. ^ Ex-Lions Moore, Murray among Michigan Sports Hall of Fame inductees