“Whew” had to be on the tongues and thoughts of those who attended the Red Sox Nation meeting held at the Savannah Center Thursday.
The meeting featured former Major League Baseball player Bill “Spaceman” Lee.
The extroverted Lee kept his motor running at high speed all during the talk. If you didn’t pay close attention, you couldn’t keep up as he went quickly from subject to subject without drawing a breath.
He started to answer a question from a member of the audience and after about five minutes and about two long tales, Lee stopped to ask “What was the question?”.
Lee encouraged the fans to ask questions.
“Ask questions – interrupt me,” Lee told the crowd. “I don’t know where I am going anyway.”
Lee met with his adoring fans as soon as the doors opened. He signed anything stuck in his face and posed for picture- after-picture.
The fans adored him.
When the meet and greet session was over, those in attendance were treated to a rousing show by Sparky’s Strummers, a band heavy on banjos.
The Strummers had folks rocking and singing in their seats.
It seemed that Lee would never be able to meet the band’s energy in his talk.
Lee proved that wrong as he brought unlimited enthusiasm to the stage with an approximate hour talk in which he only stopped for a quick sip of a beer.
Since baseball, the 69-year-old Lee has stayed busy.
He is still playing professional baseball – he has a game to pitch this weekend, owns and operates a lumber operation where he designs and makes bats and makes and markets wine.
In his spare time, Lee has ran for president, for governor of Vermont and worked with singer Jackson Browne and Gov. Mike Dukakis on different environmental issues even if he didn’t agree with the celebrities politically.
Lee explained his political leanings simply.
“I’m so far left. I’m right.”
Lee was drafted out of the University of Southern California even though he lacked a fast ball.
“I couldn’t break a pane of glass,” he said. “But I was infatigable.”
He got the moniker “Spaceman” from a man named Kennedy when Eugene Cernan was walking on the moon.
The sports writers were interviewing third baseman John Kennedy and they were talking about the moon walk.
“Kennedy said ‘we have a spaceman of our own’.,” Lee recalled. “I hated Spaceman – you can’t pick your own nickname -, but the fans embraced it.”
For the record, Lee expressed doubt about a man walking on the moon.
“We didn’t land on the moon,” Lee said. “They filmed that in Arco, Idaho.”
Lee said he reads several books and he becomes that book.
“I am the smartest person on earth – just ask me. I am so many books. I was taught to be a book and I have read over a thousand books,” Lee said. “I’m cocky, but I back it up.”
Lee’s thought on life is simple.
“I want to party hard and drop dead,” he said.
No matter what Lee said, the crowd roared in laughter.
Half the time, they didn’t understand what he was talking about, but that is the “Spaceman”.
Some have said Lee is weird because he is a southpaw.
That brought one last observation from Lee.
He was wearing a t-shirt that read “The School of Baseball” and featured a picture of Jesus Christ on the front.
“Jesus of Nazareth was left-handed,” Lee proclaimed.