EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

August 14, 2007

Former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee convinced team won’t let lead slip like 1978

LAWRENCE — It seemed all too fitting that a steel blue thunder cloud loomed ominously overhead yesterday afternoon at the South Lawrence East Baseball Field where Bill “The Spaceman” Lee touched down and quickly tackled an equally ominous subject.

The former Red Sox southpaw standout of the ‘70s earned even greater celebrity in these parts for his candid — and sometimes unorthodox — views. He liked to speak on everything from the green leafy condiment he was fond of spreading over his buckwheat pancakes to Chairman Mao.

Yesterday, he wasted little time tackling the question that has grown from a whisper to a ground swell on talk radio and message boards alike:

Is it possible that the “Collapse of 1978” really could happen all over again?

Lee, who was in Lawrence to participate in a baseball clinic sponsored by the Red Sox and Bank of America for 250 youths, had a front row seat that fateful season which saw a seemingly unsurmountable 141/2-game lead over New York in July vanish into the September sky. The final blow came in a one-game playoff in October with light-hitting Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent administering last rites to a stunned Sox Nation.

Lee says the anxiety was palpable as the lead shrunk that summer — at least for those who got out on the field.

“I didn’t get to feel it,” said Lee, whose loud protests of the trading deadline deal of good friend Bernie Carbo served as the last straw in his tempestuous relationship with Sox skipper Don Zimmer and landed him on the bench and out of the starting rotation. Lee was traded the following season to Montreal in a lopsided deal (for the Expos) for utility infielder Stan Papi.

“I was benched by (Don) Zimmer at the trading deadline,” said Lee, who still proudly notes that he allowed just one earned run in 91/3 innings of relief work in the infamous “Boston Massacre” which saw the Yankees sweep the Red Sox in a four-game set at Fenway to pull even at the beginning of September.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports

Local Sports Videos
Sports Videos
Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft NHL playoff preview: Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings NHL playoff preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens NHL playoff preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Carolina Panthers NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Atlanta Falcons Too Hot or Too Cold: Brewers and Rangers NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Baltimore Ravens NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Arizona Cardinals NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs – Oakland Raiders NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs – Houston Texans NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs – Jacksonville Jaguars Olympic Great Michael Phelps Ending Retirement Draft Preview: Chris Davis Draft Preview: Jay Prosch Watson: 'I'm always going to cry' Is the use of pine tar considered cheating? Draft Preview: Jake Matthews Draft Preview: L'Damian Washington
Boston Sports
Iginla hungry for first Stanley Cup Running Strong: How the Bruins National Anthem brought Boston together Patriots Talk TV: Should the Pats abandon the 2 TE system? Brad Stevens: Hopeful season was a 'learning experience' for young Celtics Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft NHL playoff preview: Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings NHL playoff preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens NHL playoff preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday McAdam: MLB replay system already affecting Sox Running Strong: Marathon Sports Manager, Shane O'Hara reflects back on Marathon bombings Merloni: An imperfect game we're trying to make perfect Felger sounds of on the MLB replay system McAdam: Pedroia D.L. stint 'not hard to imagine' NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Carolina Panthers NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Atlanta Falcons Too Hot or Too Cold: Brewers and Rangers NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Baltimore Ravens NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Arizona Cardinals NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs – Oakland Raiders