The Obit For Lee Martin

Roughriders remember Martin
Former Crowder pitcher Lee Martin dies at 23 in Arkansas

By Cody Thorn,
The Neosho Daily News, December 19, 2009

Batesville, Ark. — A little more than a year ago Lee Martin was released by the Minnesota Twins organization after putting together two solid years.

Martin, a right-handed pitcher, was 4-2 with a 4.60 earned run average and averaged 7.18 strikeouts per/9 innings while playing for the Elizabethton Twins, an A-ball team of the Twins in 2008. His first year of pro baseball he played for the Gulf Coast League Twins and was 2-1 with a 3.21 earned run average. All told, he was 6-3 overall in 28 games played between the two stops.

A chance to play baseball again ended this week.

Martin died Tuesday, after the 23-year old died from a sudden illness in Batesville, Ark. According to the Batesville Daily Guard, officers responded to a house and found Martin dead around 5:40 a.m. Tuesday morning.

His funeral was Friday at Concord High School in Concord, Ark.

“He was probably one of the two most naturally gifted athletes I’ve worked with, both baseball and basketball,” said his Concord High School baseball coach Mark Rush to Andrea Bruner of the Batesville Daily Guard this week. “He was an outstanding athlete all the way around.”

A former Crowder College Roughrider, Martin accomplished a lot in his short time playing baseball. He was a 18th round draft pick by the Twins in 2007 after playing at Southern Arkansas.

After a very successful prep career at Concord, Ark., he signed with Crowder College.

“Where can I start with Lee,” said former teammate Josh Fritsche. “Lee and myself both grew up in small towns in Arkansas, playing for Class 1A schools, where we both won state championships. I told Coach (Travis) Lallemand about two boys from Concord and he needed to bring them to Crowder to play ball. Lee and I bonded right off the bat and became best friends. I almost considered myself as a role model for him because he was always in my room and always asking questions about pitching.

“He has some of the best talent that I’ve seen coming out of junior college. Lee Martin was more than a friend to me and the people that played with him at Crowder. He was a brother, part of a family that will always be there for him. Now, he will look down on us.”
Lallemand, now the head coach, was the pitching coach when Martin landed at Crowder in 2005.

“He was a freaking bulldog on the mound,” Lallemand recalls. “He threw in high 80s and low 90s and was usually between 90 and 92 (miles per hour) with two good pitches. He was a kid from a small school but came up here and got after it. There were high expectations for him. If he stayed at Crowder, I thought he had the potential to be a top 10 round pick.”
When asked to sum him up as a player, Lallemand said, “He had the ability to sign with Arkansas, so that says a lot.”

Martin, after a year at Crowder, signed with Arkansas, but wasn’t able to attend there. He then had a chance to play at Oklahoma State, but ended up at Southern Arkansas, one of the top Division II programs in the country. There, he was coached by former Crowder player Allen Gum, before being drafted by Minnesota.
Living in the dorm, right next to Martin’s room, was Neosho’s Taylor House, who played one year at SAU.

“He was a great athlete and not your typical pitcher,” House said. “He was a 6-foot guy who could do a 360-dunk with a basketball.”
Martin is the son of Karl and Becky Martin of Drasco, Ark. He is also survived by a son, Jett, who is 3 years old.

“Three years ago he was on campus and now he is dead … it’s hard to believe,” said Lallemand.