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Bill Lee (left-handed pitcher)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bill Lee
Lee in 2009
Born: (1946-12-28) December 28, 1946 (age 72)
Burbank, California
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
June 25, 1969, for the Boston Red Sox
Last MLB appearance
May 7, 1982, for the Montreal Expos
MLB statistics
Win–loss record119–90
Earned run average3.62
Career highlights and awards

William Francis Lee III (born December 28, 1946), nicknamed Spaceman, is an American former Major League Baseball pitcher. He played for the Boston Red Sox 1969–1978 and the Montreal Expos 1979–1982. On November 7, 2008, Lee was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame, as the team's record-holder for most games pitched by a left-hander (321) and the third-highest win total (94) by a Red Sox southpaw. On August 23, 2012, Lee signed a contract to play with the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent North American League at age 65.

In addition to his baseball experience, Lee is known for his counterculture behavior, his antics both on and off the field, and his use of the Leephus pitch, a personalized variation of the eephus pitch.[1]

Lee has co-written four books: The Wrong Stuff; Have Glove, Will Travel; The Little Red (Sox) Book: A Revisionist Red Sox History; and Baseball Eccentrics: The Most Entertaining, Outrageous, and Unforgettable Characters in the Game. In 2006, the documentary film by Brett Rapkin Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey featured Lee.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Why Are Some People Left-Handed?
  • ✪ Dylan Pingitore Pitching Mechanics


More than 2,500 left-handed people are killed each year whilst using equipment designed for right-handed people, the most dangerous of which is the right-handed power saw. Life sure can be hard for a lefty. The word right is synonymous with the word “correct” whereas “left” comes from Old English where it meant “sinister” and “evil”. In old England Left-handedness was actually believed to have come from the devil. So if left-handedness is such a disadvantage then why are between 10% and 12% of the population still left handed? After all, evolution typically weeds out imperfections within a species. But scientists have found evidence that as far back as 500,000 years ago, 10% of humans were left-handed; it’s always been this way. So there must still be some advantage to being left-handed, even in the modern world. So what is it? Left’s find out. Contrary to some theories left-handedness is not learnt as a child. It’s not simply a matter of which hand a child chooses to write with from an early age. If this were true, the numbers would be closer to 50/50 for left and right-handedness. But only 10% of the population is left-handed. In fact we can actually tell if a baby is going to be left or right-handed when they’re only a couple of months old. When you place a baby on its tummy, babies’ who will grow up to be left-handed will typically turn their heads to the left, whereas right-handers do the opposite. Before you go haphazardly flipping over babies to try this out for yourself, you should know it’s not an entirely accurate way to tell, but research has shown there’s a strong correlation. So if we don’t learn left-handedness, then where does it come from? Statistics suggest we’re born with it; it’s in our genes. Two right-handed parents have a 9% chance to give birth to a left-handed child. When one parent is left-handed that rises to 19% and when both parents are left-handed the chance is 26%. These statistics suggest that handedness is at least somewhat hereditary. But left handedness is highly unusual, because it’s not simply caused by dominant and recessive genes. About 90% of people are right-handed, suggesting that right-handedness is an extremely dominant trait. Based on what we know about genetics, a gene that is so fiercely dominant, in this case right-handedness, would have forced the recessive gene, left-handedness, out of the gene pool a long time ago. In theory, we shouldn’t have left-handed people. Yet we still do and the percentage of people that are born left-handed isn’t decreasing like it theoretically should do. In fact, it has stayed exactly the same for thousands of years. This suggests that handedness isn’t caused by a simple case of dominant vs recessive genes. It’s considerably more complex than that. It’s likely to be caused by a whole mix of different genes or perhaps something completely different altogether. The truth is that, why some people favour one hand over the other is still a bit of a mystery. There is one theory however that is the most commonly accepted answer to this perennial question. Researchers think handedness is actually caused by something called “brain lateralisation”. Our brains are divided into two hemispheres, left and right. For the sake of efficiency our brains like to use different regions for different tasks. Two of the most energy intensive activities that humans do are language and using our fine motor skills. So our brain clusters the control of these activities into one side of our brain, rather than having it spread out all over the damn place. This makes those tasks more energy efficient. Most people’s language and fine motor skills are controlled by the left hemisphere of their brain and each hemisphere generally controls the opposite side of the body. So it makes sense that most people would be right handed, because in most people, the majority of the processing which controls the movement of muscles is done in the left hemisphere of the brain, which is the hemisphere that controls the right hand side of the body. In fact, in 90% of right-handed individuals, they use the left hemisphere of their brain to control language and fine motor skills. Whereas, a considerably lower 61% of left handers control these skills using the left side of their brain. In most animals the hemispheres of their brain divide the processing of tasks equally, those same animals have no hand preference. Whereas human brains tend to specialise functions to either one side of the brain or the other and consequently we also favour a particular hand. This strong correlation has led biologists to think that brain lateralisation is closely linked to handedness. Left-hemisphere brain lateralisation is a common trend amongst left handers but it doesn’t fully explain why people are left handed. After all, 61% of left handers still use the left hemisphere of their brain, the same side that right handers use. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University believe handedness it caused by genes. Their theory is that there are two distinct alleles of a gene which causes handedness. An allele is a variation of a gene. One of those alleles is known as the D gene, which stands for “dextral”, meaning right. The other allele is called the C gene, which stands for chance. The D gene is the most common in the human gene pool and when it is present, the person will be always be, right-handed. You may therefore think that the presence of the significantly less common C gene, will mean the person is left-handed. But it’s known as the chance gene, because when it’s present, the hand preference of the person will be random, there will be a 50/50 chance of that person being left or right handed. This means that there’s a third class of handedness. There’s a small percentage of people who have some degree of ambidexterity. Being ambidextrous means one is equally as proficient with both hands. Since genes come in pairs, every human has one of three combinations of the aforementioned D and C genes. The first combination is DD, meaning the person has a strong right-handed bias. The second combination is CC, meaning there’s a straight up 50/50 chance the person will be either left or right-handed. But the third combination is quite unusual; the third possibility is DC, one of each gene variation. People with both a D (right-handed) and a C (chance) gene, are usually most proficient with their right hand, but they are also perfectly capable using their left hand. People who have a DC gene combination are somewhere in the spectrum of being semi-ambidextrous to fully ambidextrous. Such people make up only 1% of the population. So if you are one of the 1% that can adequately use both hands, well done, you have a very rare set of genes. But if you are left-handed it’s not all bad news. There’s numerous benefits to being a lefty. Lefties are sought after in competitive sports. Since most players are right-handed, a lefty can surprise and unnerve their opponent, gaining the advantage. Because most players are used to fighting right-handed opponents, not left-handers. Sports where left handers have such an advantage include tennis, baseball and boxing, to name but a few. Also, scientists aren’t quite sure why, but lefties are considerably more likely to being a genius than righties. For example, 20% of Mensa members are left-handed, which is a disproportionately large amount when you consider that only 10% of the population are left-handed. Some believe lefties are more intelligent because throughout their life, they’ve been forced to use and workout both sides of their brains instead of just the one. Also an unusually high percentage of US Presidents have been left handed. Including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. There are endless benefits to being a lefty, so even if the word “left” is synonymous with being evil, don’t worry. Next time your friend teases you for being a lefty, just remind them that you’re considerably more likely to be accepted into Mensa and you stand a much better chance than they do at becoming president.



Lee was born in Burbank, California,[2] into a family of former semi- and professional baseball players. His grandfather William Lee was an infielder for the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League and his aunt Annabelle Lee was a pitcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. “She was the best athlete in the family," Lee said. "She taught me how to pitch."[3]

Lee attended and played baseball at Terra Linda High School in San Rafael, California, graduating in 1964 before enrolling at the University of Southern California. At USC, Lee majored in physical education and geography and attended from 1964-1968 where he played for Rod Dedeaux and was part of the Trojans team which won the 1968 College World Series,[4] and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 22nd round of the 1968 Major League Baseball Draft.

Lee served in the US Army Reserve for 6 years during the Vietnam War. One of his jobs was to process the dead soldiers from New England and call the families and say "you can come get whatever’s left of your son." He was also a Chemical Radiation Biological Officer for the 1173rd, and earned Soldier of the Cycle at Fort Polk Louisiana. [5]

Lee is a rastafarian and formerly Catholic.[6] He is married to Canadian-born Diana Donovan.[7]

Major league career

Lee in 1976
Lee in 1976

Lacking a good fastball, Lee developed off-speed pitches, including a variation of the Eephus pitch. The Leephus pitch or Space Ball, the names for Lee's take on the eephus pitch, follows a high, arcing trajectory and is very slow.

Lee is the last Red Sox player to miss time during the season for military obligation after being active duty in the Army Reserve from June 1 to October 1, 1970.[8]

Lee was used almost exclusively as a relief pitcher during the first four years of his career. During that period, Lee appeared in 125 games, starting in nine, and compiled a 19–11 record. In 1973, he was used primarily as a starting pitcher. He started 33 of the 38 games in which he appeared and went 17–11 with a 2.95 Earned Run Average, and was named to the American League All-Star team. He followed 1973 with two more 17-win seasons.

He started two games in the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. He left both the 2nd and 7th games with the lead, but the Red Sox lost both games, and the Series.[9]

On May 20 of the 1976 season, Lee started a game against the New York Yankees, pitched six innings, and the Red Sox won 8-2. However, the game is remembered for the final out of the sixth when the Yankees' Lou Pinella was tagged out at home by Sox catcher Carlton Fisk. Pinella slid with his spikes high into Fisk as he was tagged out, touching off an on-field brawl where Lee suffered a torn ligament in his pitching shoulder. Lee would miss almost two months of the season and finish with a 5-7 record.[10]

Later Red Sox career

During the 1978 season, Lee and Red Sox manager Don Zimmer engaged in an ongoing public feud over the handling of the pitching staff. Lee's independence and iconoclastic nature clashed with Zimmer's old-school, conservative personality. Lee and a few other Red Sox formed what they called "The Buffalo Heads" as a response to the manager. Zimmer then relegated Lee to the bullpen and management traded Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins and Bernie Carbo. Lee threatened to retire after his friend Carbo was traded: he subsequently referred to Zimmer as "the gerbil," which proved to be the last straw.[4] Lee briefly left the Red Sox after pitching in a 10-9 win at home over California on June 12 but returned a few days later. But during the home stretch, when the Red Sox were battling the Yankees for the pennant, Zimmer refused to pitch Lee. The Red Sox lost the pennant in a one-game playoff with the Yankees.

Montreal Expos

Lee was traded at the end of 1978 to the Montreal Expos for Stan Papi, a utility infielder. Lee bade farewell to Boston by saying, "Who wants to be with a team that will go down in history alongside the '64 Phillies and the '67 Arabs?" Lee won 16 games for the Expos in 1979, while being named The Sporting News National League Left Hander of the Year (over Philadelphia's Steve Carlton). Then during the 1980 season, Lee caused more controversy by admitting to using marijuana. This landed him on the cover of High Times magazine. Called into the office of baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Lee said he did not smoke the drug but just put it on his pancakes. Lee's major league career ended in 1982, when he was released by the Expos after staging a one-game walkout as a protest over Montreal's decision to release second baseman and friend Rodney Scott. Asked by a sportswriter if he minded being “blackballed,” Lee said, “I'll go down in history with a lot of people who've been blackballed."

But didn't he mind being "out of baseball for good?"

"Oh, I'll never be out of baseball for good,” he said. “It's my life."[11]

Ottawa Champions

On September 2, 2018. Lee played Designated Hitter for the Ottawa Champions.

Reputation and controversy

Lee's personality earned him popularity as well as the nickname "Spaceman", given to him by former Red Sox infielder John Kennedy.[citation needed] His outspoken manner and unfiltered comments were frequently recorded in the press. Lee spoke in defense of Maoist China, population control, Greenpeace,[4] and school busing in Boston,[4] among other things. He berated an umpire for a controversial call in the 1975 World Series, threatening to bite off his ear and encouraging the American people to write letters demanding the game be replayed.[citation needed] When asked about his views on mandatory drug testing, Lee quipped: "I’ve tried just about all of them, but I wouldn’t want to make it mandatory".[4] In his 1984 book The Wrong Stuff, he claimed his marijuana use made him impervious to bus fumes while jogging to work at Fenway Park.[12] Much of the material in this book is, however, tongue-in-cheek.

His propensity to criticize management led to his being dropped[citation needed] from both the Red Sox and the Expos, and the end of his professional career by 1982.

Post-professional life

Bill in Nashua, New Hampshire playing for the Oil Can Boyd All Star Team
Bill in Nashua, New Hampshire playing for the Oil Can Boyd All Star Team
Lee at Fenway Park with a 2012 Boston Marathon runner
Lee at Fenway Park with a 2012 Boston Marathon runner

After the Expos released Lee in May 1982, he played for semi-professional teams, including the single-season Senior League in Florida, largely composed of retired major leaguers. He played in Venezuela, and starting in 1984 he lived in Moncton, New Brunswick, where he played first base and pitcher for the Moncton Mets, earning $500 per week.[13] That year, he published his first autobiographical book, The Wrong Stuff.

In 1988, he and his second wife, Pamela, announced plans to move to Burlington, Vermont. In 1987, he had announced plans to run for President of the United States for the Rhinoceros Party, which necessitated the move.[14][15] Since then he has played mostly as a celebrity pitcher in games around the world.[16]

Since 1999, Lee has been an ambassador for Major League Baseball to Cuba helping to bring Cubans players to the US and setting up goodwill tours especially to Canada.[17]

In 2007, Lee joined former major league players Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, Marquis Grissom, Delino DeShields, and Ken Ryan on the Oil Can Boyd's Traveling All-Stars. In June 2008, Lee pitched for the Alaska Goldpanners during the annual Midnight Sun ball game played at night during the Summer Solstice.[18]

In September 2010, Lee pitched ​5 23 innings for the Brockton Rox (a team that was then a member of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball), picking up the win.[19] The win made him the oldest pitcher to appear in or to win a professional baseball game.[20]

On October 8, 2011, Lee participated in the "100 Innings of Baseball Game" hosted by the Boston Amateur Baseball Network to raise money for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). On August 23, 2012, Lee pitched a nine-inning complete game for the San Rafael Pacifics in San Rafael, California, beating the Na Koa Ikaika Maui 9–4. Using a homemade bat in the fifth inning, he drove in the first run of the game for the Pacifics.[21] Lee was signed to a one-day contract by Pacifics' President and General Manager Mike Shapiro. Lee's bat and uniform were donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame following the game as the start gave him the record for the oldest pitcher to make a starting appearance, pitch a complete game and also to earn a win in a professional baseball game.

Lee lives in northern Vermont with his third wife. He is also a regular on Melnick in the Afternoon with Mitch Melnick at TSN 690 sports radio in Montreal in a segment called "Answers from Space". In 2007, Lee was featured in High Times, a counterculture, pro-marijuana magazine. He also makes frequent appearances on Sports Overnight America, a nationally syndicated radio program hosted by Gerrie Burke (a long-time friend) out of San Francisco.

He is also a regular coach/pro at the annual Red Sox Baseball Fantasy Camp run by the Red Sox Organization in Florida at the team's Spring Training Facility.

Lee recently released his own wine label, "Spaceman Red" wine, a California syrah, cabernet and petite sirah blend, produced with winemaker friend Geoff Whitman, and distributed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire.[22] In 2004, he released a beer in partnership with Vermont's Magic Hat Brewing Company. Called Spaceman Ale, it is no longer in production.

Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey

In 2003, filmmakers Brett Rapkin and Josh Dixon joined Lee on a barnstorming trip to Cuba, gathering footage for the documentary film Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey. The film premiered at the 2006 SILVERDOCS AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival and later on the New England Sports Network and MLB Network. It is distributed across North America by Hart Sharp Video.

Spaceman (2016 film)

Spaceman is a biographical film about Lee written and directed by Brett Rapkin and starring Josh Duhamel[23][24] as Lee.

Political career

In 1988, Lee was the Rhinoceros Party presidential candidate running on a platform of bulldozing the Rocky Mountains so Alberta could receive a few extra minutes of sunlight and banning guns and butter. His slogan was "No guns, no butter. Both can kill."[25]

2016 gubernatorial campaign

A longtime resident of Craftsbury, Vermont, in May 2016, Lee was chosen by the Liberty Union Party as its nominee for the governor in the 2016 election.[25] Lee, who had never heard of the Liberty Union Party before, was contacted by the party to run for governor and accepted.[6] Lee did not take campaign contributions.[26] His campaign slogan was, "So far left, we're right".[27] Lee is a supporter of Bernie Sanders but sees himself as "Bernie-heavy not Bernie-lite" arguing he is Sanders' policy twin.[25][28] During the campaign he advocated for a Canadian style health care system, revealing that he got his shoulder surgery in Canada for $5000, estimating it would have cost $50,000 to $70,000 in the US. [29]

Lee lost the election, receiving 8,912 votes (2.78%).[30]


He is the author of four books, two written with Richard Lally, and two with Jim Prime:

  • Lee, Bill, and Dick Lally (1984). The Wrong Stuff. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-76724-7.
  • Lee, Bill, and Jim Prime (2003). The Little Red (Sox) Book: A Revisionist Red Sox History. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 1-57243-527-5.
  • Lee, Bill, and Richard Lally (2005). Have Glove, Will Travel: Adventures of a Baseball Vagabond. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 1-4000-5407-9.
  • Lee, Bill, and Jim Prime (2007). Baseball Eccentrics: The Most Entertaining, Outrageous, and Unforgettable Characters in the Game. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 1-57243-953-X.

Songs dedicated to Lee


  1. ^ "Bill Lee Shrine of Eternals". Archived from the original on November 16, 2006. Retrieved November 11, 2006.
  2. ^ Kirkpatrick, Curry. "In An Orbit All His Own", Sports Illustrated, August 7, 1978.
  3. ^ Lee, Bill, and Dick Lally (1984). The Wrong Stuff. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-76724-7. pp. 5-6
  4. ^ a b c d e Dreier, Peter; Elias, Robert (July 11, 2017). "Out of Left Field". Jacobin. Retrieved July 17, 2017.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "He Was a Pitcher Nicknamed 'Spaceman.' Now He Wants to Be a Governor". Time Magazine. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  7. ^ "Bill 'Spaceman' Lee running for governor of Vermont". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  8. ^ "Bill Ballou: Jeff Sellers' promising career cut short by injury, Lyme disease - No-win situation". Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  9. ^ "Bill Lee Biography". Archived from the original on October 26, 2006. Retrieved November 11, 2006.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "From Fenway to Outer Space". The Attic. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  12. ^ Lee, Bill, and Dick Lally (1984). The Wrong Stuff. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-76724-7.
  13. ^ Carlson, Peter (August 20, 1984). "Bill (Spaceman) Lee Takes His Last Star Turn as a Canadian Semipro". People. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  14. ^ United Press International (April 10, 1988). "Lee Takes Comedy Act on the Road". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  15. ^ Longman, Jere (June 7, 1987). "He`d Want `Hail To The Chief` On A Kazoo". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  16. ^ Hughson, Callum. "Spaceman: A Cuban Baseball Odyssey". Mop Up Duty. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  17. ^ "'Spaceman' Lee Adds Curveball to Field of Governor Hopefuls". Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  18. ^ Armstrong, Joshua (July 28, 2008). "Spaceman's Midnight Sun Game was one for the ages". Daily News-Miner. Retrieved October 13, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Bill Lee starts and wins independent league game at age 63 | HardballTalk
  20. ^ Tornadoes manager Rich Gedman left impressed by Bill Lee’s performance - News - The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, MA - Quincy, MA Archived September 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Brown, Daniel. "Ex-big leaguer 'Spaceman' Bill Lee earns victory for Pacifics". Bay Area News Group. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  22. ^ Bill Lee Speaks Highly of Terry Francona’s Managerial Abilities, Says Daniel Bard Needs to Be More Aggressive | Boston Red Sox |
  23. ^
  24. ^ Alex Billington. "First Teaser for Baseball Drama 'Spaceman' Featuring Josh Duhamel". Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  25. ^ a b c "Vermont's Most Famous Former Baseball Player's Pitch For Governor". WCAX-TV. Archived from the original on May 27, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  26. ^ "The Spaceman throws hat in  for Vermont governor". Boston Herald. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  27. ^ "Bill 'Spaceman' Lee, former Expos pitcher, announces candidacy for governor of Vermont". CBC Radio. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  28. ^ "Bill (Spaceman) Lee launches run for Vermont governor". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  29. ^
  30. ^ Vermont Election Results 2016: Governor, Vermont Secretary of State (last updated November 22, 2016, 6:24 p.m.).
  31. ^ "What Bothers The Spaceman" at This Might Be a Wiki

External links

This page was last edited on 24 April 2019, at 17:34
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