Among those he has abraded is Red Sox Outfielder Reggie Smith. "He knocked me down with a good left-hand punch a few weeks ago," Lee admits. "My lip was split for 10 days."
Lee's troubles with Milwaukee Catcher Ellie Rodriguez have been worse. It all began when Lee hit him with a pitch in Puerto Rico in 1970. "He dragged his bat toward the mound, dropped it and leaped at me," Lee says. "I hit him with a left hook. Five days later I was jumped by Rodriguez. I was knocked down, my face was pushed into a steel pole and I lost two teeth. It would have been worse if my teammate Ron Woods hadn't come along. While Woods pulled Rodriguez away, I crawled into the stadium. They had to fly me back to Boston to have a new bridge made."
For a while this year much ado was made in Boston about an alleged feud between Lee and Red Sox Catcher Carlton Fisk. There really has been no such problem, although Fisk did become irritated one day and told Lee, "How can you shake off my signs six times when I've only got five fingers?"
Lee is also one of the game's premier fungo hitters, batting a ball skyward, grabbing his glove off the ground and racing to catch the baseball. But his accession to winning consistency has forced him to forgo another favorite pastime: kicking field goals. Lee used to boot them when he was a regular in the Boston bullpen. There, he kicked pieces of bubble gum up into the bleachers and between the upraised arms of Mike Mulkern, a member of the Bill Lee Fan Club. As a reliever and now as a starter, Lee has always gotten a kick out of Fenway Park.