Last week I had the pleasure of speaking by telephone with Bill (Spaceman) Lee, the legendary Red Sox pitcher who is the subject of a new documentary called "High and Outside." It is about the life and times of one of baseball's most colorful and intelligent players. It talks not just of his career in the game, but his union activism, his politics and banishment from the game he loves in 1981.
Here is a link to the film.
Bill and I chatted by phone for about 20 minutes last Friday. He and I have met on two previous occasions, both at Professor Thom's. We first met at the 60th birthday party we had for him in late 2006, and the whole bar had a blast hanging with him and he told war stories and held court all night.
Bill is also running for President of the United States. He's running on the Rhinoceros Party of Canada's ticket, as he also did in 1988. The Spaceman and I talked about a wide range of subjects, including the Red Sox, his bid for the White House and the new movie.
JQ: What did you think of the amazing comeback win by the Red Sox last Thursday night?
BL: I was home with my father watching the game, and I was getting calls from my friends and my daughter about it. They were all pretty depressed, but I did my best to cheer them up. It was really amazing, as I follow the Red Sox pretty closely these days. Tampa Bay saw the "devil" and it bit them in the ass! If the Red Sox go to the World Series, I have this terrible fantasy about a junkballer like Jamie Moyer striking out Jason Bay with an outside curve ball to win the Series. Bay's done a nice job, but they really need Manny (Ramirez). I could have beaten Tampa Bay, and a soft-tosser could beat Philly as well.
JQ: What's your relationship like with the Red Sox front office?
BL: It's cordial, but not close. I play a lot of baseball and I'm on the road a lot. I'm not used by them much, but I do run a fantasy camp.
JQ: What did you think of being elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame this year?
BL: Honestly, it was ten years too late. I figured I'd probably go in after I was dead (laughs). Bruce Hurst shouldn't have gone in before me. He was overrated, and went in because of politics. I really appreciated that Mike Adams of WEEI radio in Boston campaigned to get me into the Red Sox Hall of Fame and succeeded.
JQ: What did you think of the Yankee Stadium finale last September 21, and the end of that stadium?
BL: I heard that Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda were barred from coming into the ballpark that day, for whatever reason, and I was disturbed to hear that. I didn't see that game or the ceremonies so I can't comment on that. But what do I think that that ballpark is gone? I can put it all into one word: good.
JQ: What did you think of the "High and Outside" film?
BL: I'm doing my best to let people know it's out there. I'll be in Vermont and New Hampshire next week to promote it, and hopefully Boston when the World Series begins. It's a poignant film, and I enjoyed it as much as Brett Rapkin's "Spaceman" film (about his baseball journey to Cuba). The new film is good at showing the younger ballplayers, and if there's a flaw with it, it's that there's too much of me in it (laughs).
JQ: You are running for president again. Tell about more about it.
BL: I'm running again for the Rhinoceros party, which is based in Canada. I want to have Hunter S. Thompson as my vice-president. We can have him stuffed and mounted, and he won't be the meddler that Dick Cheney is (laughs). But I really hope that Ralph Nader withdraws, as he would hurt Barack Obama. We need someone like Obama, who's definitely in better shape than John McCain is (laughs).
JQ: I hope to see you back at Professor Thom's again. Everyone had a great time with you.
BL: I'd loved coming in there. A lot of great Red Sox fans there. But I wish I could remember more of it, as I was hammered a good part of the time.