"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Bill Lee will never make the Hall of Fame. Not unless some slightly warped visionary decides to open a wing for the flakes, free spirits and characters who have spiced up the grand old game over the years...
He was the thinking man's flake...dubbed "the Spaceman" because in the conservative, buttoned-down world of baseball, he had an absolutely unique view of the baseball world. And he wasn't shy about sharing this perspective with anyone who'd listen. He once had his foot X-rayed and suggested to the doctor: "That loose thing's just an old Dewar's cap floating around."
The 1978 Red Sox blew a 14-game lead and ultimately lost a playoff game to the Yankees. When southpaw Lee was subsequently traded from the Red Sox to the Expos at the end of the season, he was asked if he was upset to leave. His reply: "Who wants to be on a team that goes down in history with the '64 Phillies and the '67 Arabs?"
When his friend and soul mate Bernie Carbo was sold to the Cleveland Indians, Lee went on an unofficial strike -- jumping the club and going home. He was finally tracked down by Red Sox president Haywood Sullivan, who informed Lee that he must dock him a day's pay, amounting to about $500. Lee's reply? "Make it fifteen hundred. I'd like to have the whole weekend."
Before the anticlimactic seventh game of the 1975 World Series, Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson boasted that no matter what the outcome of the game, his starting pitcher Don Gullett was going to the Hall of Fame. Lee, the Red Sox starter, countered with: "No matter what the outcome of the game, I'm going to the Eliot Lounge." And he did.
Feed a nostalgia for White Elephants and revel amid memories of the Mackmen at the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society, which offers a baseball-history smorgasbord appealing even to those who don't remember the heyday of Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove.
Willard Mullin, dean of American sports cartooning, whose ballplayer sketches I spent many a junior-high class trying to emulate (while pretending to take notes), is paid tribute here.