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Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee pitched a complete game on Thursday at age 65

Aug 24, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

billlee AP

Out: Roger Clemens pitching at age 50. In: Bill “Spaceman” Lee pitching at age 65.

You remember Lee, who won 119 games over 14 seasons with the Red Sox and Expos, and has one of the most well-deserved nicknames in sports. He’s now a member of the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent North American League. And apparently this is no publicity stunt — Lee threw a complete game on Thursday, going nine innings in the Pacifics’ 9-4 win over Maui Na Koa Ikaika of Hawaii. Lee had signed a contract with the Pacifics earlier that day.

According to the Pacifics, Lee is the oldest pitcher to win a professional game … breaking his own record when he won a game in Massachusetts in 2010 at age 63.

Lee threw his famous Leephus pitch for strikes on occasion, blooping it in nice and slow, and then following up with fastballs. His pitch count for the night: 94, with 69 for strikes, although he struck out no one.

“He threw 100 pitches in batting practice” on Wednesday, said former Dodger Mike Marshallk,, the manager of the Pacifics. “He’s the only guy the whole season to go all nine, and the rest of these guys are in their 20s.”

  1. kkingprior - Aug 24, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Wow, the old man went 1 for 3 at the plate too. Impressive.

    • ivetsfor - Aug 24, 2012 at 8:39 PM

      Spaceman will have to pitch in two more years… I saw Satchel Paige pitch for the Miami Marlins (Previously the Havana Sugar Kings). He was 67 (or older). He pitched 7 innings and was the winning pither. Red Wing Stadium in Rochester.

    • biggorillabooks - Aug 24, 2012 at 9:14 PM

      Bill is a wonderful human. Planet Infinity.
      Wish Warren was the third base coach.
      And Bill is mentioned in my Warren Zevon book.
      more at biggorillabooks.com

      • bbmoody - Aug 26, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        The bio of Warren Zevon was outstanding — I assume this is the one written by Crystal? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I am a huge Warren Zevon fan and that Bill Lee is my all-time favorite baseball player. We were listening to Mutineer last night on the porch. Great song by a great songwriter.

        And how cool is this story about Lee? A friend of mine in Boston noted that Lee attended Johnny Pesky’s funeral, unlike all but 4 players on the current team. A great guy indeed.

  2. Frank Falkenburg - Aug 24, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Last night I took my 10 year old to see the Pacifics play in San Rafael. The pitcher for the Pacifics was 65 year old Bill “Spaceman” Lee. An old man who used to play baseball for some team across the country who was obviously participating in a publicity stunt….big deal right? Well that’s what I thought….just a novelty and something fun to do. Boy was I wrong. Watching what unfolded through the eyes of my ten year old brought tears to my eyes as dozens of life lessons and some of the most important clichés in sports unfolded right there in front of us. For nine innings Corbin and I sat and pointed out to each other all the amazing things we saw pop off that mound and out of the batters box. Here was a man who was outgunned and overmatched physically…his fast ball could be clocked on a sun-dial and the batters he faced were 1/3 his age, while the other pitcher appeared to throw lightning darts, yet Corbin looked at me after Lee got out of trouble in the 5th (with another one of his moonballs slapped for an easy groundout) and said “That guy is smart”. We talked at length about his desire to win, ability to compete, and using the tools in his arsenal regardless of how he looked. We talked about the other guys underestimating him and taking for granted that their strength and speed would win the day. We talked about his support of his teammates when they made a mistake and his willingness to slap his chest and say “my fault”….even when it was evident that the mistake was not his at all. He used his mistakes to fire himself up and never seemed to make an excuse for himself, never put his head down (except to catch his breath). We watched as he came out to that mound with one goal in mind to win. In short this man taught everyone at that ballpark what it means to be a professional and showed us all the kind of heart that it takes to succeed. Bill Lee, you gave something very special to every person who came to watch but the life lesson you gave to my ten year old son was absolutely priceless. He woke up talking about you this morning, he said he “started the night laughing at you and ended up laughing with you”….then he started talking about the time he dove in the pool in his 50 yard breast stroke and came up swimming but stopped halfway down the pool (simply forgetting where he was and what he was doing), he was mortified at the time but today for the first time, he laughed …at himself.

    • bbmoody - Aug 26, 2012 at 10:28 AM

      Thank you so much for posting this wonderful account.

  3. nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 24, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Bill Lee forever!! Long live the Spaceman!!

  4. mgflolox - Aug 24, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Dude looks like a dead ringer for Kris Kristofferson in that picture.