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Bill Lee really, really didn't like George Steinbrenner

Jul 16, 2010, 8:45 AM EDT

I said that I wasn’t a fan of whitewashing the recently departed, but Bill Lee goes a few steps beyond what even I’m comfortable with:

Former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee did not soften his stance on George
Steinbrenner following the Yankees owner’s death Tuesday. “As far as
Steinbrenner’s passing? Good,” Lee said in an interview with New
Hampshire TV station WMUR. Added Lee: “Trust me, if hell freezes over,
he’ll be skating.”

Lee, who spent 10 of his 14 major league seasons with the Red Sox
and took part in a number of heated battles vs. Steinbrenner’s Yankees
in the mid-1970s, claimed that Steinbrenner tried to have him banned
from baseball. “He said I was an incompetent and I was bad for the game
of baseball,” Lee recalled. “Well, I’m not a convicted felon like
George Steinbrenner, and he’ll take that to his grave.”

I would have figured that Lee would have had a slightly more zen take about it all, but I guess not.

  1. 27xchamps - Jul 16, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    Bill Lee is a Douche… p.s Who is he??? ill have to look him up on wikawhatever … should of just been happy getting his ass beat by George’s team.. sour grapes…

  2. Jonny5 - Jul 16, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    Looks like his first name should be Hill, Bill Lee in that picture. Anyway, i can see why he’d be bitter if indeed old Man George did do what he says he did. I could see George doing it too. Lee was Spaceman, he smoked pot, he threw a wacked out eephus pitch… All things that surely got under old man Georges skin…. 27x champs is bragging about 27 WS wins and doesn’t know who Lee is? Hmm? Yeah.

  3. Evan - Jul 16, 2010 at 9:16 AM

    I dunno. I think this is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black. Bill Lee is no Tim Tebow himself.

  4. Paper Lions - Jul 16, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    Also sounds like the truth.
    The Yankees were the best when George wrote check and got the hell out of the way…they were at their worst when he meddled. He was banned from MLB; they don’t ban owners on a whim. This is a guy who fired employees, cut hours for others, and threatened to cut their benefits (to save a whopping $100,000) because he was unhappy with the CBA. He didn’t shy away from overpaying for players and the Yankees where never threatened by losing money…and he reacts by firing people that make “normal” salaries and threatening their benefits. The guy has an entry on “Dickipedia” (, which I didn’t even know existed. There is no evidence that Steinbrenner was a good man. He was an a-hole when he was alive and that doesn’t change just because he died.

  5. Ace2000 - Jul 16, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    Who is Bill “Spaceman” Lee?! Call him a douche if you want, but the dude’s a legend. Seriously, I highly recommend you do read up on him because he’s one of the most entertaining characters to ever play the game. Among his more memorable quotes: “I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won’t matter if I get this guy out.” Plus, the guy sprinkled marijuana on his pancakes before ballgames, and that’s got to count for something . . .

  6. YankeesfanLen - Jul 16, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    Should I look up your “Dickipeda” entry as well?

  7. jrh1194 - Jul 16, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    What a bitter washed up ex-ballplayer Bill Lee is. I am sure he would be singing George’s praises if he had been receiving a Yankee paycheck. I can only wish that Graig Nettles had kicked Lee’s butt more than just once!!!

  8. Al - Jul 16, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    It would be hard to think of two figures who more represented the opposing poles of 70s baseball than Lee and Steinbrenner. Ultimately and inevitably, the ruthless corporatism represented by Steinbrenner won out and has determined the course of the sport through the ensuing decades, and I think baseball may be a little worse off for it today. We just don’t see ballplayers as free-spirited and frank as Lee anymore. If anyone here hasn’t yet read Dan Epstein’s new book on baseball in the 70s, I strongly suggest you do so.

  9. paul - Jul 16, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    Remember when Yankee fans hated George Steinbrenner? The fans and the NY media’s hue and cry was “the only way the yanks will get back is if Steinbrenner sells the team!” I realize most Yankee fans that post only ‘realized’ they were Yankee fans after they won some WS in the mid-late 90’s. I’m sure they were not there in the Mel Hall/ Mike Pagliarulo days when most people who showed up at Yankee stadium were only people who couldn’t get tickets to the Mets. People actually used to chant in the middle of Yankee games “Lets go Mets!” It used to drive Phil Rizzutto nuts. Everybody hates to see somebody’s passing but he was disliked for the same amount and with the same fervor as he was liked by NY’s own fans and media.
    But the man is overdue for the Hall of Fame. He changed the face of all 4 major sports. The 3 other sports have caps because they do not want another Steinbrenner to come to fruition.

  10. Paper Lions - Jul 16, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    NY fans are as fair weather as any. If the Yankees start losing they’ll all become Mets fans all of a sudden….just like they did in the 80s.

  11. Glenn - Jul 16, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    Actually, he called out the Red Sox management on a lot of things even though they were signing his checks. One of his more memorable comments at the time was that the Sox could have one a World Series with all of the black and Latin player that they had traded away. If there was one guy in baseball who wasn’t going to be silenced by money, it was Bill Lee.
    As for Nettles, Lee said you could always tell if someone got in a fight with Nettles – they would be covered in scratches.

  12. egypt4 - Jul 16, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    Who is Bill Lee? A nobody with a big mouth. When his time comes, will anyone even care? The man is gone, let it be. Like everyone, he did some good and some bad. The good will live after him.

  13. bbeer - Jul 16, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    I think you’d have better luck looking in “Truthipedia” Len.

  14. Ditto65 - Jul 16, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    “I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won’t matter if I said Steinbrenner is ice skating in Hell.”
    Stay Classy, HBT.

  15. Old Gator - Jul 16, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    Bill Lee is Zen. What you just heard was the sound of one mouth crapping.

  16. reclaimmyplace - Jul 16, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    27xchamps – Jul. 16, 2010 at 8:59 AM ET
    Bill Lee is a Douche… p.s Who is he??? ill have to look him up on wikawhatever … should of just been happy getting his ass beat by George’s team.. sour grapes…
    typical ignorant comment. “ps who is he” …………… ignorance is bliss.
    i had respect for george for his determination and the way he could build a team into a winner.
    he was still an a**hole tho.

  17. Don - Jul 16, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    Obviously Steinbrenner was right about Lee all along and after all these years he comes crawling out of the woodwork to prove it all over.

  18. Al - Jul 16, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    It’s unfortunate that a guy like Bill Lee would still be bitter. If it wasn’t for George Steinbrenner, Bill Lee would never be remembered. It was guys like George that took care of their former employees and paid the higher price for the talented players. Unfortunately for Bill Lee he was not very talented and his nickname was spacemen. This term we still used today for people with limited ability to think thing through, or someone who is always stoned.
    Gee Bill, you only wish when you die that 1% of the people will say something good about you. Now that you put you foot in your mouth you can say that George must of been right about you!

  19. zippy - Jul 16, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    In the end George Steinbrenner will probably remembered more fondly than Bill Lee remembers him.
    Lee was a pretty good pitcher who finished 119-90 and even had three consecutive 17 win seasons. he may have had even better numbers but during a brawl with the Yankees Lee was on the outskirts of a typical baseball brawl on the mound when Nettles tackled him from behind, in the ensuing scrum Lee’s shoulder was broken. Lee just didn’t like authority and was pretty much a rebel his whole career.
    Nettles was also not always a fan of The Boss. One of my favorite quotes from Nettles to explain a losing streak was “The more we lose, the more he [Steinbrenner] flies in and the more he flies the better chance his plane will crash.”

  20. Florida727 - Jul 16, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    That’s the problem with ex-athletes… they still can’t figure out when to shut up, even when they not relevant anymore.

  21. Highlander - Jul 16, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    These comments are unfortunate. Lee has that hardened, bitter New England attitude. I am not saying he is wrong. I think it lacks class to say this within a week of his death. There is no need to be a hypocrite and say you liked him. Just show some class.
    I certainly did not like Steinbrenner in those days. I have been going to Yankee Stadium since 1975 and by the 80’s I wanted him gone. I was happy the day he was banned from baseball. I was disgusted the day Reagan pardoned him. I believe Steinbrenner spend the last 15 years atoning for his actions. This is why we read about a man that did so much good as opposed to focusing on all the bad he did.
    As for Yankee Stadium, even in the lean years we had more people in the stands than most of baseball. No one ever said “Let’s Go Mets” at a Yankee game until interleague baseball began. I went to sold out games against the Red Sox, Tigers and Blue Jays all while my team was in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place.
    Even Steinbrenner eventually learned in order to win you need to do more than just buy everything. If you don’t believe that check out the Dodgers, Mets, Cubs, Red Sox and Yankees themselves at different parts of the last two decades. You also need a good minor league system, motivating coaches and luck.

  22. egypt4 - Jul 16, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    I know who bill lee is, the question still is, “who is this nobody”?

  23. Omega in Colorado - Jul 16, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    I wondered whatever happened to old ‘Spaceman’ I guess he was just sitting around waiting for The Boss to do so he give us this classic missive.

  24. Old Gator - Jul 16, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    Some years back he ran for congress in Vermont on the – I think – Rhinoceros Party (!) ticket. His platform was based on the billions in energy costs that could be saved if Congress voted to lower the boiling point of water by two degrees.
    The Republicans threatened to block the legislation and the idea was dropped.

  25. theHoundDawg - Jul 16, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    Death does not erase the vile deeds committed during life.
    The dead steinbrenner should be remembered, not as an icon, but as the man who almost singlehandedly caused sports salaries to rise one hundred fold, pricing the average fan out of stadiums, and, foremost, as a convicted felon (eventually pardoned by his bud, ronald reagan) who used a part of his inherited fortune to finance a portion of the illegal activities of Herbert Kalmbach, Donald Segretti, G. Gordon Liddy, Charles Colson, and the rest of Richard Nixon’s band of crooks who disgraced America and stole the 1972 Presidential election.
    This is the dead steinbrenner’s legacy, and it should not be forgotten.

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