Space prohibits listing in alphabetical order the things Lee has done and said to outrage the baseball Establishment. But in just a few inches, he has:
?Worn onto the field at different times a gas mask, a Daniel Boone cap and a beanie with a propeller.
?Announced that a baseball represents nothing more than "some Haitian slave's eight-hour day," and that a ballplayer's springtime ritual consists of "unlimbering the body and snorting the new glove."
?Visited China on the cuff of a left-wing publication, after which he grew a beard. "This isn't a Fu Manchu," he said. "It's a Ho Chi Minn."
?Opined that the Red Sox had "the whitest team in baseball. Just look at the hierarchy of the ball club. We could have a winning team made up of the black and Latin American guys who've been traded away."
?Showed up, while rumors of his imminent release were flying, dressed in a black outfit that he described as Mexican funeral wear. "Nobody looks at me," he complained. "They walk by like I've been bitten by a rat from Calcutta and the disease will spread."
?Accused Zimmer (who has a metal plate in his head as the result of two beanings he suffered as a player) of "disliking all pitchers as a basic prejudice. If you've been beaned and nearly killed twice, you're going to want to make pitchers live in fear. Aww, Don's all right. Long as he keeps taking those happy pills."
?And defined pitching on various occasions as a form of "sexual expression," the true essence of "Aikido—you know, self-defense" and "my own territorial imperative. That's from Robert Ardrey. Or Agatha Christie. I forget which."
This zaniness has been readily accepted in places like Cambridge, Charley's Eating and Drinking Saloon and the bleachers at Fenway, where Lee met his best friend, Mike Mulkern, who, Lee says, "used to be one of those great dope-smoking radicals who got amnesia a lot." Mulkern presented himself as a human goalpost for Lee's bubble-gum-wad field-goal tries from the bullpen.
Moreover, Lee's easy manner, sparkling green eyes and aging-beach-boy looks always have gone over with the ladies. Witness the young thing who breathlessly approached him the other day saying, "Bill? That letter you got? About the term paper? The term paper 'A Love Story—Bill Lee'? It was from me."