Bill “the spaceman” lee
By Stephen Seitz
WOODSTOCK — Former Red Sox pitching star Bill “the Spaceman” Lee is running for governor of Vermont on the Liberty Union ticket. That is, when he’s not playing for Vermont Senior League baseball.
Lee, along with Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, play for the Burlington Cardinals, who faced off against the Killington Knights last Sunday, July 17, at the Woodstock Union High School athletic field. The game was open for everyone to watch and meet a former MLB pitcher and gubernatorial candidate.
Lee said he didn’t want to run for office at first.
“They kept pushing it at me, and my wife kept pushing it back,” he said. “But I was reading Plato’s Republic, and Socrates told Plato, ‘To deny the people your leadership is to leave them the poorer.’ So Socrates makes me feel guilty again.”
As governor, Lee said he wouldn’t change things much.
“There’s not a whole lot I’d do,” he said. “The place is pretty good as it is…[but] I’d like to clear out all the Democrats and Republicans and replace them with independent free thinkers.”
Lee, however, did have a plan should Donald Trump win the presidency and he were governor of Vermont.
“We’d secede into Canada if I’m governor,” he said. “We could join the province of Quebec. They’re a loose confederation of provinces and they all seem to get along. Most people can’t leave the U.S., but I can pull up stakes and go. All my wives are Canadian. Half the people I know are Canadian.”
Lee, now a Craftsbury resident, pitched more games for the Red Sox than any other left-hander in the team’s history. He won 109 games in a career with the Sox from 1969 to 1978 and then the Montreal Expos until 1982, pitching in relief at the beginning and end of his career, a three-time 17-game winner as a starter in between.
Lee said he helped found the Vermont Senior League baseball league back in 1988. Its immediate ancestor, the Northern Vermont Old-Timers Baseball Association, was founded by Floyd Brown in 1984, according to the league’s website. The group adopted a formal structure in 1988, with a board, by-laws and dues, and adopted its current name in 2003.
There are 17 teams in Vermont Senior League baseball, and the Killington team is the furthest south.
Ray Foley acts as general manager of the Killington Knights.
“Anyone over the age of 40 is welcome to play,” he said. “You have to be at least 45 to pitch. We play from the last week in April to the last week in September. I’ve been in the league for 20 years.”
The teams have their fans. Kelly McGuire came all the way from Warren to watch her boyfriend play.
“He plays for Killington,” she said, “Of course, we’re excited to see Bill, too.”
Lee was not the primary attraction for Hartland resident Larry Fortier. He came to see Burlington mayor Miro Weinberger, who is a member of the Cardinals. Though expected to appear, Weinberger wasn’t present at Sunday’s game.
“I coached him in grammar school,” Fortier said. “He was so smart about baseball. I think he studied the game. He was in the fifth and sixth grade, knew more about baseball than I did, and I was the coach.”
Fortier said Weinberger was so dedicated to the game, he decided to give the boy a special trophy.
“I bent over backwards to get his name spelled right,” said Fortier. “But about a week later, his father called me and said, ‘You got his name wrong.’ So I apologized and he said, ‘His name is Miro, not Monroe.’ I’d been calling him that the entire time. I offered to correct the trophy, but he declined.”
Fortier said he wanted to join the Killington team and has been practicing pitching for the last few weeks.