September 7th, 2010 10:11 EST
Amazing Bill Lee Keeps Hitting the Strike Zone Even at 63 Years Old
For those fans that remember the 1970s and early 1980s in Major League baseball, then you will surely remember Bill "Spaceman" Lee. Bill was a part of the 1970s era of baseball and has been a part of just about every memorable game back then as George W. Busch was a part of every humorous joke`s punch line on Saturday Night Live when he was President.
For most Major League baseball players especially pitchers when the day comes to retire they normally retire and then stay retired to go onto the next thing they are going to do when the time comes to life after baseball.
For Bill, the game never left his blood even though he retired from playing in the Major Leagues in 1982. Bill has always seemed to have an inner confidence that he can do just about anything he puts his mind to and has always had the Can Do " attitude. Maybe we all need to take a little from Bill and the way he thinks to help us improve our daily lives and have the inner confidence that gets us though any challenge we may face.
Speaking of challenges, I watched Bill pitch when he was with the Boston Red Sox when I was still packing my lunch to go to school and running to make it to class before the tardy bell rang. And then I remember him pitching in the greatest World Series in baseball history the 1975 World Series. That`s how longs it`s been since I remember Bill playing baseball. I did watch him pitch for his last team, the Montreal Expos now the Washington Nationals back in probably 1981 and a little in 1982 and remember he really was not an overpowering pitcher like a Nolan Ryan but he had a great breaking ball and a slider that left hitters guessing and standing on their toes after the third strike call by the home plate umpire.
On Sunday Bill took the mound once again for the Brockton Rox. The Rox were playing against the Worcester Tornadoes. Both teams are in the Can-Am League of the minor leagues of professional baseball.
The ironic thing about this game was not only Bill Lee pitching again after about 28-years out of baseball and being 63-years old but he was playing against a former ball player Rich Gedman who is the Tornadoes team Manager. Both Lee and Gedman are part of the Boston Red Sox Alumni. Lee`s tenure for the Red Sox ended in 1978 and Gedman`s tenure began for the Red Sox in 1980, so both players who are yet alumni for the Sox are from two different decades of baseball and once again crossed paths with one another.
Speaking of crossing paths, Lee`s pitches crossed the path of home plate very well. He pitched impressively on Sunday only allowing two runs and five hits pitching in 5 and 1/3 innings. The Tornadoes needed the win to stay alive for the final playoff spot with the regular season ending on Sunday. Gedman commented on Lee`s performance against his Tornadoes, I didn`t know whether to clap or be angry with him, but I`m happy for him. " (Gedman, 2010) Now with the Tornadoes losing against Bill Lee and the Rox their playoff hopes are in jeopardy and will need a little help from other teams if they are to make it into the final spot of the playoffs this year.
The moment and this game is about Bill Lee coming back to play baseball but it is also about much more than a player coming out of retirement after so many years and being at an age where most people are retired and going to the mall early in the morning to sit in the food court and drink their morning coffee while hanging out with their other retired buddies. It`s also about a player who never lost his passion for the game and despite going up against all odds and the challenge of people telling him there was no way he could even come close to accomplishing a one more time " dream of pitching once again in baseball playing against guys young enough to be his son or his grandson and then making this dream despite all the adversity become a reality was something Lee would not give up on and proved it.
This goes hand in hand with Gedman`s other comments about Lee pitching on Sunday. Gedman commented, How many people could pull that off? That`s what is special. He did it because he believed he could do it. He loves to play. That`s a wonderful tribute to him. Despite all the other stuff that people talk about, baseball is special to him and it`s fun to watch him.`` (Gedman, 2010)
And that`s exactly what this moment is about; how many people could accomplish this? Lee accomplished this because he believed he could accomplish this. When someone says they can`t do it " and I don`t mean just to play sports at an old age but anything in life, maybe they need to remember that anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it sometimes with a little help and sometimes just out of sheer determination. I have always learned with any challenging goal in life to be able to keep persistence and motivation despite how many things may come against you in your path to accomplishing that dream and you may get side tracked and knocked down many times, you always have to ask yourself, How bad do you want it " Obviously Bill Lee wanted this dream of pitching one more time so bad he made it come true no matter what. With the goals, dreams and challenges we all face every day is something from the human side we cannot do alone. You need to pray and have faith in God to help you with anything that comes against you in life and to help you achieve your goals.
From the Pitching side of it Lee does not have his once comet like fastball he had in the 1970s but he does know how to pitch strategically by knowing the hitter and their weak spots in hitting and he still knows how to move the ball around the plate to keep hitters off balance.
Gedman also commented, He understands the art of pitching,`` He knows what to add on and take off. He knows what guys are thinking. It`s a credit to him. (Gedman, 2010)
Lee pitched on Sunday like his arm and body was the same as a young pitcher. The Rox team Manger Chris Carminucci also commented on Lee`s performance, He got people out today with his mind and hitting spots and knowing how to pitch. He threw a changeup that was like eephus and then he threw a fastball that looked like it was 105 (miles an hour) from the dugout. It was amazing. It was cool stuff.`` (Carminucci, 2010)
Another of Lee`s sporting qualities is he is very competitive. Lee was wound up Sunday with every pitch he threw by pumping his fist on the mound after getting batters out. Lee was a little disappointed with his hitting. He went 0 for 3 at the plate but hey, who said pitchers are supposed to know how to hit? Leave that to the other guys on the team.
The Rox and the Tornadoes drew a crowd of 6,126 on Sunday. With Lee making his pitching debut once again to those fans attending the game was probably like a World Series game to them and is something that they can talk about to their grand kids for many years to come. For Bill Lee, don`t be surprised if one day you turn on the Fox Game of the Week and see a familiar old face standing on the mound with the Eye of the Tiger " look on his face.
Fenton, Jim, Enterprise Staff Writer, (2010), Tornadoes manager Rich Gedman left impressed by Bill Lee`s performance, Retrieved 2010. The quotes from Gedman and Carminucci used in this article.