Bill "Spaceman" Lee was one of the most colorful and controversial baseball players of the 1970s — outspoken in his political views which ranged from marijuana advocacy to environmentalism to admiration for China's murderous dictator Mao Zedong — and also well known for his off-speed pitching style that allowed him to pitch in the majors for parts of 14 seasons despite having a rather unimpressive fastball.
Now, the former Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos southpaw is running for governor of Vermont as part of the Liberty Union party, the self-described "nonviolent socialist party" formed by anti-war protesters in the early 1970s. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders got his start in politics as part of Liberty Union, but Lee says that when it comes to his own hostility to the "2 percent" and "income inequality" he's "Bernie-heavy…not Bernie-lite. My ideas were before Bernie."
Speaking with WCAX.com, Lee says he is a "pragmatic, conservative, forward thinker" and took aim at the GOP, saying, "Republicans are pterodactyls, they have little short arms that never get to their front pockets."
Of Lee's evolving political career, NBC Sports' Craig Calcaterra writes:
In recent years Lee has alternated gimmicky and celebrity baseball appearances with political aspirations. His political aspirations, of course, have never been conventional either. In 1987, for example, he had announced plans to run for President of the United States for the Rhinoceros Party. Which would've been a neat trick as it was a Canadian political party. Still, we could've used it here, as its platform was fairly intriguing. The Rhinoceroses advocated, among other things, repealing the law of gravity, legalizing all drugs, privatizing Tim Hortons and giving a rhinoceros for every Canadian Citizen.
Lee, who wrote in his book The Wrong Stuff that he sprinkled marijuana on his breakfast pancakes to help him deal with the fumes he would inhale while jogging along the sidewalks of Boston, wants to legalize and tax marijuana in the Green Mountain State. He also advocates for single-payer health care (which was already attempted and failed in Vermont) and paid family leave.