Bill Lee

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Note: This page links to Bill Lee, the former Red Sox pitcher nicknamed "the Spaceman". For other with similar names, click here.


William Francis Lee III

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Lee later in life.

Bill "The Spaceman" Lee pitched 14 years in the big leagues, all for the Boston Red Sox and the Montreal Expos. The winner of 119 games, he won 17 three times in a row from 1973 to 1975. In 1973, his ERA was third-best in the American League and he made the All-Star team.

In his time, Lee was famous as a character, but many of his funny sayings had a big grain of truth in them. Here's some:

"Baseball is the belly button of society. Straighten out baseball and you'll straighten out the rest of the world." - Bill Lee

"The lefthander's first good look at the leftfield wall, the Green Monster in Fenway, is an automatic reason for massive depression. And that's when it's viewed from the dugout." - Bill Lee, when he pitched for the Red Sox

Lee was at USC from 1966 to 1968 (Tom Seaver had been there in 1965). By June 1969, Lee was already up in the majors.

Lee's aunt Annabelle Lee pitched in the AAGPBL. In 1989, Lee played for and managed the Winter Haven Super Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. He was fired as manager after losing six of seven games and was replaced by Ed Nottle. He remained on the team's pitching staff and went 3-9 with a 4.96 ERA as well as playing first base at times. Lee batted .262 in 42 at-bats. In 1990, he played for the St. Petersburg Pelicans of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. He pitched in 7 games and was 2-1 with 2 saves with a 3.79 ERA when the league folded.

Lee estimates he still throws 200 innings a year playing in over-40 leagues in New England. On August 16, 2010, he announced that he had signed a contract to pitch a game with the Brockton Rox of the Can-Am Association at the age of 63 on September 5th. He won that game, 7-3 over the Worcester Tornadoes, giving up only two runs in 5 1/3 innings. He fanned one batter, walked none. Two years later, at the age of 65, he pitched a complete game for the San Rafael Pacifics of the North American League. He may be the oldest pitcher to have won a professional game.

At one time, Lee wanted to change his number to 337 since it would spell Lee upside down. He was known to throw a "Space Ball" or "Leephus" pitch. A version of the eephus pitch.

In 2016, he was the subject of a documentary feature by filmmaker Josh Duhamel, entitled Spaceman. The film follows Lee's life after the end of his major league career.

"The saddest day is when all the leaves fall off the trees and you shut down baseball - and you have six more months of ice hockey." - Bill Lee

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (1973)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 4 (1973-1975 & 1979)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 4 (1973-1975 & 1979)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Danny Gallagher: "Lee never played again after strike", in Remembering the Montreal Expos, Scoop Press, Toronto, ON, 2005, pp. 85-88.
  • Bill Lee: The Wrong Stuff
  • Jim Prime: "Bill Lee", in Bill Nowlin and Cecilia Tan, ed.: '75:The Red Sox Team that Saved Baseball, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 72-77. ISBN 978-1-933599-97-7

Related Sites[edit]