Even at 53 Bill Lee believes he can strike out Mark McGwire. "I'd run him nothing but fastballs up and in," Lee says. "Then a straight change away, and Good night, Irene." Of course, Lee also believes the CIA keeps a dossier on him; that right-wing fundamentalists should be "roadkill," that the Bible is fiction and that the royal Stuart family of Scotland is directly descended from Jesus Christ. "I've been called a pinko-commie-fag, but I'm a conservative," Lee says. "I'm a Rastafarian-Buddhist-communist-Roman Catholic. I'm a baseball player and a subsistence farmer. I don't believe in making a profit, and the only law I believe in is the law of gravity."
Such proclamations were what earned the erudite, lefthanded junkballer the sobriquet Spaceman during his days with the Boston Red Sox, with whom he enjoyed his greatest success, winning 51 games from 1973 to '75. They also infuriated the baseball establishment. "If the truth hurts, so be it," Lee says. "They always doubted my sincerity and my intellect, but I've forgotten more about baseball than they'll ever know."
Since the Montreal Expos released him in 1982, Lee has remained a popular figure because of both his flaky reputation and his monkish devotion to the game. In '88 he ran for president as the candidate of the Rhinoceros Party. He has pitched and played in senior leagues from Winter Haven, Fla., to Moncton, Nova Scotia, and every year he takes an amateur team to play in Cuba, bringing along a generous supply of equipment to donate to the locals. When he's not preaching baseball or bolshevism, Lee tends to his 14-acre farm in Craftsbury, Vt. He and his second wife, Pam, separated in June and have a six-year-old daughter, Anna. Aside from the $68 a week he makes doing TV work for the Expos, Lee claims that his only income is from his major league pension. "Money's like manure," he says. "It's no good unless you spread it around. I'm just the world's guest. It gives me sustenance in return for my knowledge."