I’m fired up for this movie to come out, and no I’m not being paid to say that. As a diehard baseball fan, someone who eats, breathes and sleeps baseball, I feel like I still only have a very small percentage of the passion that Bill Lee has for the the game. If you’re not familiar with Lee or his story, he’s one of the most fascinating human beings that you’re ever going to encounter.
I’ve had the chance to interview him twice over the years, and I remember our first conversation went off the rails when he saw a squirrel outside of his window. The highlight of our second conversation was how he tried to explain Carl Crawford’s struggles with the Red Sox were due to the fact that Boston has too many one-way streets. I’ve kept a voicemail from him on my phone for the last two years, because he starts off the message talking to me, and then he veers off and has a conversation with his wife in the background because she’s nagging him to make sure that he gives me the number to call back, and then he just hangs up. It’s great.
Lee was Curt Schilling before Curt Schilling was Curt Schilling, only he turned it up to a thousand with how outspoken he was on global issues. This, and the fact that he would criticize his own managers and organizations, led to him ultimately being released by the Expos in 1982, even though he was only 35 and had a 2.94 ERA the year before. But just because he was exiled from the MLB, that did not end his baseball journey. He’s been all over the world, playing and teaching the game of baseball, more specifically in Cuba, where Lee has become an ambassador for Major League Baseball since 1999.
Even at the age of 69, he can’t walk away from the game. In fact, he’s the oldest pitcher to win a professional baseball game, and he comes back every year to break his own record. And this is just scratching the surface of who he is and what his life has been. I’m sure they’ll Hollywood it up a bit, but honestly, the man personifies what it means to be a character, and they don’t even really need to divert too much from what actually happened throughout his life for the film to be incredibly entertaining. I, for one, can’t wait to see it.
Spaceman comes out on August 19th, in theaters and On Demand.