From 1984 to 1987, former Red Sox (1969-78) and Expos (1979-82) pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee spent his summers playing for the Moncton Mets. The Mets, were in the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League in 1984 & 1985, before the league merged into the Nova Scotia League for 1986 & 1987. Following Lee’s release from the Expos (due to his one game walk out in protest of the release of teammate Rodney Scott), Lee pitched with numerous semi-pro teams. This would include stops in Venezuela and Longueuil (Quebec). Then he found his way to Moncton, New Brunswick.
Heading into the 1984, Lee tried to get back into the Major Leagues. He sent letter to all (then) 26 teams and only heard back from two of them. The two teams (Pittsburgh & San Francisco) both spent their regrets. Although, he did try out for the Giants in 1985 and did not make the team (or the AAA affiliate in Phoenix). He would accept an offer to pitch for the Mets, who were starting their first season in the New Brunswick Senior League. The organizers of the team figured Lee would serve as a drawing card. Lee (not caring about money) would make $500 (plus expenses) a week playing senior ball. Lee’s arrival in Moncton coincided with the release of his first autobiography, The Wrong Stuff, which is being released as a movie (entitled Spaceman) later this year. Lee continued to wear his familiar #37 while with Moncton.
While in Moncton, Lee not only pitched with the Mets, but also played first base and left-field. In 1984, Lee finished with a record of 9-2. During the 1985 season, Spaceman would finish the season with an ERA of 0.53 and batting average of .380. Lee, continued his mischievous ways with the Mets. During a game on June 19, 1986, he instigated a brawl against the Kentville Wildcats after being brushed back on a pitch. He would serve a four game suspension for his part in this brawl. The suspension even made the pages of the July 7 edition of Sports Illustrated. In 1986 and 1987 he was teammates with Rheal Cormier, who spent parts of those two seasons on the Mets roster as a junior call up.
Lee not only pitched well for the Mets, but he was deadly at the plate as well. There’s a story about a home run he hit out of Wanderer’s Grounds in Halifax. After a game where he hit a moon shot, an elderly man approached Lee. The man said to him that the only other home run he seen hit that far in that park was by Babe Ruth in 1929. Lee’s presence helped Moncton win the New Brunswick Senior championship in each of his last three seasons with the club.
Lee loved his time in Moncton. He was able to play the game the he loves and he was able to hunt, fish, bike and golf and his days off. The Spaceman was enjoyed the local seafood. He would leave Moncton after the 1987 season so he could run for President in the 1988 election. Living in Canada made him ineligible to run so he moved to Vermont, where he still lives. Lee was to be a candidate for the Rhinoceros Party.
Despite being away from the limelight of Major League Baseball, many media outlets did stories about him during this time. These would include People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Montreal Gazette and Los Angeles Times. This article used many of these sources (which are now archived online). Lee still visits the Maritimes on a regular basis, participating in baseball camps and charitable dinners.