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Oklahoma City RedHawks Q&A: Hitting coach Leon Roberts weighs in on George Springer and the other top hitters he's worked with

RedHawks hitting coach Leon Roberts, who played wide receiver at Michigan, spent 11 seasons in the majors with the Tigers, Astros, Mariners, Rangers, Blue Jays and Royals. Roberts was a career .267 hitter with 731 hits, 78 homers and 328 RBIs.
By Mike Baldwin Published: August 3, 2013

When did you dream of becoming of a major leaguer?

My dream was to play in the NFL, be an NFL quarterback or an NBA player. Growing up, I worked on football and basketball like crazy. Baseball was my third sport. Baseball scouts watched me in high school but I was recruited by everybody for football and basketball. They knew I could hit, run and throw but they knew I preferred football.

When did baseball move to the top of the list?

Once I got to the University of Michigan because of the way the seasons fell I played football and baseball. Basketball didn't really fit. Football was still my favorite. Baseball wasn't that big in Michigan. I didn't even dream about being a pro baseball player until my sophomore or junior year at Michigan.

What has been the biggest change in baseball since you were a rookie nearly 40 years ago?

The obvious one is money. Back when I was growing up, sports didn't pay that much money. The major league minimum when I first started was $14,000. The next year when it went to $15,000 I was in hog heaven.

What's your favorite major league memory?

The day I made it to the majors. You work so hard, you get strawberries (sliding). You hit 'til your hands bleed. You put all those hours in the minors. You work back home in the winter. When you finally get to the big leagues it means so much.

What were your favorite stadiums?

I loved Royals Stadium. Back then, when George Brett was playing, it was a tremendous baseball atmosphere. I loved Fenway Park every time we played there and Yankees Stadium with all the nostalgia. Tigers Stadium had nostalgia with all the greenery.

Of your 78 career homers how many were against legends?

I got one off Nolan Ryan, one off Jim Palmer and one off Steve Carlton and one off Fergie Jenkins, all Hall of Famers.