Legendary Pitcher Bill Lee's Unorthodox Life Put On Screen In 'Spaceman'
Hall of Fame pitcher Bill Lee has lived an eclectic life, from the playing field to his political views and his vineyard in Vermont. In 2012, he became the oldest player to win a professional baseball game.
Here & Now’s Robin Young speaks with the famed Boston Red Sox player about how he’s portrayed in the new movie, “Spaceman,” and his legacy.
Interview Highlights: Bill Lee
On if he thinks of himself as a “self-destructive addict'” or a “free-spirited nonconformist”
“Well, the end justifies the means. And at 67, I threw a complete game in professional baseball. At 61, I beat the rookie team for the UCLA Bruins up in Alaska in the midnight sun game. I’ve continued to dominate in the MSBL. I’m probably the winningest pitcher in the history of baseball, outside of Satchel Paige. So does the end justify the means or the means justify the ends?”
On his experiences as a Major League Baseball player
“I was blackballed from Major League Baseball because I stook up for Bernie Carbo and then for Rodney Scott. But that wasn’t the main reason. They used that as an excuse, because I’m the guy who made all the millionaires. Every player rep is, as Marvin Miller said, when there was a transition for a strike, the player reps were the ones that were punished, because we’re the messenger. I took all the money from the billionaire owners and redistributed it with the players. That’s why I’m the most hated person in organized baseball — I am the Bernie Sanders of baseball.”
On running for Vermont governor
“We’re going to keep everybody from leaving the state, because the main prophecy of the Republicans is that people are leaving and we don’t have our youth there. We’re going to make hemp, we’re going to legalize it. We’re going to make hemp uniforms, and I’m going to ban Bud Light, that’s my first job because it litters the highways it litters our Ski-Doo trails, it litters our cross country ski trails that parallel our Ski-Doo trails. You remember the group Fair Share? We started the Bottle Bill here in Massachusetts. You’re looking at the one guy that started recycling in America.”
On what he thinks when he watches baseball now
“Hit the cutoff man, work faster, throw strikes, learn how to change speeds. If [Jon] Lester knew how to pitch to the outside part of the plate, he would have already won 300 games you know? And [David] Price, he’s the same thing. They’re all trying to throw the ball through a brick wall… instead of changing speeds and controlling space and time, which I did.”
Clips From ‘Spaceman’
Note: These clips contain some explicit language.
Songs From The Segment
Bill Lee, former Major League Baseball pitcher. He tweets @billspacemanlee.