Bill “Spaceman” Lee profile, 1987

As far as I’ve been convinced, the 1970s of Mark Fidryrch and Dock Ellis and Luis Tiant and Al Hrabosky (all pitchers, hmmm) were the last great era of baseball eccentricity. (See my friend Dan Epstein’s wonderfully funky Big Hair, Plastic Grass for in-depth knowledge.) Not counting a brief return for the Wild Thing/John Kruk Phillies in ’93, I pretty much stopped following my childhood obsession by mid-decade. My younger sister Emily gifted me with a MLB.tv subscription a couple years ago, and I tried — liked the return of facial hair — but could never really get that into it. My loss, I’m sure, in many cases. But I did find time to interview one of my favorite diamond weirdos for the Village Voice‘s (then consistently entertaining and off-kilter) sports section in 1987. 33 years later Bill Lee is apparently still alive on this planet and 73. If anybody ever makes a Spaceman playlist in his honor, I really hope they start with the Holy Modal Rounders.

1 comment

  1. Via facebook:

    Phil Dellio
    Were you still watching the World Series in 1975? This was great, when Lee tried to fool Tony Perez with his blooper/eephus pitch.

    Jesse Fox Mayshark
    ‘75 World Series is the first baseball I remember watching, and what made me a BoSox fan for life. (Even though they lost.)

    Phil Dellio
    I wish I’d been rooting for the Red Sox, but the Reds were (two years before the Jays entered the league) my favourite team.

    Jesse Fox Mayshark
    That was a great Reds team.

    Steve Pick
    Al Hrabosky turned into the crankiest of old guy baseball announcers, but in his prime, he was one of the great eccentrics indeed. Of course, those of us playing wiffle ball in the backyard were constantly walking behind the tree which stood next to the imaginary pitchers mound and pretending to pound the ball into our fist to up the testosterone enough to be able to throw the thing by the batter.

    Dan Williams
    I got hammered with him one long-ago night back in sweet home VT. My God, what a fun guy…

    Lyndon Heiss
    Is he the godfather of Pittsburgh Pirates star, Dock Ellis, who supposedly pitched a no-hitter on acid.🤪

    Chuck Eddy
    Author
    They were contemporaries. The ’70s, man.

    Graham Ashmore
    Apparently Lee and Derek Sanderson used to hang out together at Sanderson’s bar in Boston.

    Tim Anderson
    The 70s and 80s, back when baseball was fun and seemed to encourage eccentricity among the players. Before all year training and weights (Mark Fydrich lift weights?) you got more Spacemen and knuckleheads. My favorite from that era may have been Kurt B… See More

    Chuck Eddy
    Author
    Yep, exactly. Besides a brief return for the Wild Thing/John Kruk Phillies in ’93, I pretty much stopped following my childhood obsession by the mid ’70s. (My younger sister Emily gifted me with a MLB-TV subscription a couple years ago, and I tried — liked the return of facial hair, for instance — but could never really get that into it. My loss, I’m sure, in many cases.)

    Graham Ashmore
    When the Phils put Williams in to pitch in game six, Rickey was up next. He said to his teammates, “They puttin’ the Wild Thing in. Rickey on in four pitches.”
    Chuck, Tim’s right, the ’80s were a marvelous baseball decade, at least from ’85 on.

    Tony Stocks
    Talked to Lee at a booksigning that he did with Jim Bouton (of “Ball Four” fame) many years ago. Really sweet and funny guy.

    Jim Lukowitsch
    Didn’t he write a book? The wrong stuff??

    Like

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