Bill (Spaceman) Lee prefers the Cape atmosphere in the off-season, when no one is here. “Somehow I end up at that [Mashpee] rotary and then I just end up in New Seabury,” he laughed. “I don’t know how that happens.”
The 67-year-old former Red Sox pitcher did exactly that on Monday, and word spread that he was in town after Bobby Byrne’s pub posted a picture of him at the restaurant. “Awesome to meet Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee at our Mashpee Pub!! What a classic character!!” the tweet read. The same night, he was spotted playing trivia at The Lanes Bowl & Bistro.
Even with the absence of tourists, he could not avoid the attention of fans in Mashpee.
Although Mr. Lee—nicknamed Spaceman by his former teammates for his free spirit and eccentric behavior—said he responded to flashing camera lights with inappropriate gestures, he still managed to enjoy his night out.
“Mashpee is a drinking town with a golfing problem,” he said.
Prior to his appearance in Mashpee Commons, he met an old friend, New Seabury Country Club director of food and beverage Roy Chase, to discuss selling his wine, fittingly called Spaceman Red— “ ‘Spaceman’ for me, and ‘Red’ for my political beliefs,” Mr. Lee said—under the label Spaceman Wines, a partnership between himself and winemaker Geoff Whitman. A portion of the profits from his wine are donated to the Red Sox Foundation to support its Red Sox Scholars and Inner City Youth Basketball in New England.
Mr. Lee could not say when the wine will be available in New Seabury. However, a wine-tasting may be in the works soon, preferably in the fall “when no one is around,” he said.
“I’m not really into working, I’m into having a good time,” he said.
He was multi-tasking as he spoke, pouring his wine at a wine-tasting Tuesday at Wequasset Resort and Golf Club. In a room filled with winemakers in semi-formal attire, The Spaceman stuck out like a sore thumb in a Boston Bruins T-shirt and jeans. Neither he nor his fans seemed to notice.
“Can I bother you for a picture with you?” a woman interrupted. He smiled and cheerfully left his booth, posing with his arm around her for a photo before returning to pour her a glass of wine.
“Everybody loves my wine!” he said.
Mr. Lee may steer away from the limelight, but he was in his element on the Cape. After leaving the Red Sox in 1978, he said he spent two winters living in a cabin in Chatham with the Reverend Stephen Smith, the former minister of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Barnstable Village, as well as a few winters in North Falmouth, working for the Lawrence-Lynch Corporation contracting company.
During his 10 years with the Red Sox, Mr. Lee pitched 94 winning games out of the 162 in which he appeared, before he was traded to the Montreal Expos, playing with them from 1979 to 1982. In 2008, he was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame for holding the team’s record for most games pitched by a left-hander and the third-highest win total by a Red Sox southpaw.
But even after retiring from the Major Leagues in the 1980s, he stayed committed to the game during baseball season, playing as a “ringer,” or essentially, a hired gun for semi-professional teams which need a replacement.
“They fly me in just to play,” he said, adding that he plays for various teams all over the country. “I’ve pitched 138 innings in 51 baseball games since January.”
Of the current Red Sox team, he said, “I loved them until they got their rings. They haven’t been able to hit since they got those gaudy rings!” That night, he left the wine tasting at 5 o’clock to watch his former team lose against the Texas Rangers.
Mr. Lee lives with his wife, Diana Lee, and their cat, Stella Luna, in Craftsbury Common, Vermont.