Kristen Lee like Philly and wanted Cliff to come back

Cliff Lee's wife Kristen is back where 'we felt like we were not ever supposed to leave.'
Cliff Lee's wife Kristen is back where 'we felt like we were not ever supposed to leave.'
Posted: December 16, 2010

Kristen Lee understands the perception. Given the reports, you might think she was a target of Yankees fans during the American League Championship Series and that might be the reason the Lees did not take all that New York money.

She explained back in October that there were some taunts and obscenities directed toward the Rangers family section in Yankee Stadium. There was some spit that rained down from above.

"Those incidents did happen," Kristen said yesterday after her husband Cliff was introduced as a Phillie for the second time. "But they weren't directed towards me. No one knew who I was. It was just fans being fans."

In fact, it could have been fans at just about any stadium when they spied the visiting family section.

"That was way overblown," Cliff Lee said. "No one came up to my wife and spit on her. Nobody poured anything on her. You go to any stadium, the opposing team's fans start cheering, especially in the postseason, fans are going to say something to them. They are going to do things like that. That's part of it. That story was way overblown and it was false and it had zero to do with the whole thing. Hopefully, we can put that behind us."

The Lees both said they did not spurn the Yankees because of any issues with New York. They chose Philadelphia. Cliff wanted to be part of a rotation that is baseball's answer to the Miami Heat. And Kristen simply liked everything about the city when they were here for those few months in 2009.

"We liked the easy travel on a train for our kids to other cities and the good cultural experience for them here," she said. "It was fun to live in a city and have a whole different lifestyle than in Arkansas."

The Lees liked the proximity from the city to Citizens Bank Park. And they liked that the city was different from their Arkansas home.

"It's very different, but different is good sometimes, taking taxis, living in a highrise," Kristen said.

No decision has been made yet, but she thinks they may end up living back in the city. Kristen said that she, Jaxon, 9, and Maci, 7, will only live in Philadelphia during the summer when school is out, while visiting back and forth at other times.

Lee went from Cleveland to Philadelphia to Seattle to Texas and back to Philadelphia in 16 1/2 months.

"As crazy at is seems things were in the past year, it could have been worse," Kristen said. "We just [said], 'New adventures, let's go,' not so much when we got traded from Philly, there were some tears over that for me. But they were so great to facilitate this because they knew how much we wanted to be here."

Phillies president David Montgomery called Kristen the "unsung hero" in getting her husband back with the team. During the negotiations, Kristen said to general manager Ruben Amaro: "Don't break our hearts again."

It could, as she said, always be worse. Jaxon was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 4 months old. He had a stem cell transplant, using stem cells from a donated umbilical cord. Most of the treatment was done in Arkansas and he got the transplant in San Antonio. And today, Jaxon is, according to his mother, "perfect."

"All the craziness with traveling and moving and getting traded, that's not really a problem," Kristen said. "We're thankful we had a job. There are so many people in the past year that don't even have a job. The whole time, you just have to step back and say worse things could happen."

The Lees have a very good job, one that will pay them $120 million over the next 5 years with opportunities for even more. So money won't be an issue.

"The greatest thing about being a free agent, the past 10 years nothing's been our decision," Kristen said. "We haven't been able to decide anything. This time, it was our decision. To be able to have the opportunity to play where we wanted to play. It feels so great to be back where we felt like we were not ever supposed to leave."

Kristen put a list together for Texas, New York and Philadelphia. The list of positives was much longer for Philadelphia. The list remains on Kristen's kitchen table.

"I almost threw it away [Tuesday] and I said, 'I think I need to keep this,' " Kristen said, "So I think I'm going to keep it."

There was nothing necessarily wrong with Texas other than that summer heat and the proximity to Arkansas. Almost too many visitors from home, Kristen said.

The Lees really did not know enough about New York to have an opinion as Cliff had only visited the city as an opposing player.

But they both had an opinion about Philadelphia. They wanted to be here. So they are back, this time to stay. *

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