Former Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos pitcher Bill Lee was enough of an outsized, counterculture personality during his baseball career to warrant a movie being made about him. That time has now arrived, with Josh Duhamel (Transformers) portraying the wacky left-hander in a feature film.
Check out the trailer for Spaceman, executive produced by Ron Shelton (Bull Durham), Ben Lyons (The Players’ Tribune) and former major leaguer Eric Gagne.
While Lee is best known for his days with the Red Sox, Spaceman focuses largely on Lee pitching for the Longueuil Senators, an amateur French Canadian baseball team, after he was released by the Expos in 1982 and faced the end of his professional baseball career. In a 2015 interview with the Boston Globe, Lee himself called that period “the worst chapter” of his life.
Spaceman is based on Lee’s 1984 autobiography titled The Wrong Stuff (which was the original title of this film). In the book, he details being blacklisted from the majors for his outspoken nature and political views. And of course, there was the drug use, as the trailer features prominently. (“Ganja resin”? Really?)
Though Lee’s extreme left political views and heavy recreational drug use largely created his legend, he was a very accomplished pitcher with Boston, compiling a 94-68 record and 3.64 ERA over 10 seasons. The left-hander was named to one All-Star team and twice pitched over 280 innings in a season. Though he didn’t have a blazing fastball, Lee was successful with an arsenal of off-speed pitches, including the “Leephus pitch,” his variation on the slow, high-arching eephus pitch. He was named to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2008.
The movie is directed by Brett Rapkin, whose previous films have been sports documentaries, including 2006’s Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey about Lee. This will be his first feature film. Spaceman will be released in theaters and on demand streaming services on Aug. 19.