The back of Bill Lee's 1976 card looks cool with three years in a row of 17 wins. That was pretty much the peak of Lee's career. He had a couple more good years, but not in a run like 1973-1975.
Bill Lee was drafted out of the University of Southern California by the Boston Red Sox in 1968. Bill didn't take very long to get to the majors. He had an ERA of 1.58 with two single-A teams in 1968. In 1969 Bill was 6-2 with a 2.06 ERA in ten starts for AA Pittsfield when he was called up to Boston in June. Lee pitched in 20 games (1 start) for the Red Sox in 1969 and was 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA.
Lee didn't pitch very much in 1970. He appeared in 11 games (5 starts) and was 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA. Bill didn't pitch again in the 1970 season after getting hit for 5 hits and 5 runs in one inning against the Chicago White Sox on May 31. Lee had to fulfill his duties in the U.S. Army Reserve and missed the rest of the season.
In 1971 Lee was mostly a reliever -- he appeared in 47 games and only three of them were starts. Bill was 9-2 with two saves and a 2.74 ERA in '71. Bill was strictly a reliever in 1972. In 47 games Lee was 7-4 with five saves and a 3.20 ERA.
Lee became a starter in 1973 and had his best season. Bill was 17-11 with a 2.75 ERA in 38 games (33 of them starts) and had a save in one of his relief appearances. Lee was also named to the 1973 AL All Star team but he didn't pitch in the game.
Bill went 17-15 with a 3.51 ERA in 1974 and led the AL with 320 hits allowed. In 1975 Bill was 17-9 with a 3.95 ERA. He wasn't used in the 1975 ALCS, but he started two games in the 1975 World Series. Bill had a 3.14 ERA in the two starts but didn't get the decision in either game.
Lee missed almost two months of the 1976 season from late-May to mid-July. Lee injured his shoulder when he was hit by Graig Nettles during an on-field brawl and fell awkwardly. It was just about his toughest season. Bill went 5-7 with one save and a 5.62 ERA in 24 games (14 starts) in 1976.
In 1977 Lee didn't make a start until May 8 and was in and out of the rotation all season. Bill was 9-5 with one save and a 4.43 ERA in 27 games (16 starts) in '77.
Bill and a few other Red Sox players formed a faction called the "Buffalo Heads" that made things tough for Red Sox manager Don Zimmer. Lee called Zimmer "Gerbil" -- to this day every time I see a picture of Zim I think about the Gerbil thing. Bill also walked out on the team after Bernie Carbo was traded away. Altogether Lee was 10-10 with a 3.46 ERA in 24 starts. After the season Lee was traded to the Montreal Expos for Stan Papi. He was embarrassed about being traded and was quoted as saying, "Who wants to be with a team that will go down in history alongside the '64 Phillies and the '67 Arabs?".
Montreal manager Dick Williams was able to get Lee back on track and Bill was 16-10 with a 3.04 ERA in 33 starts for the Expos in 1979. In 1980 Bill missed a lot of time due to an odd injury. Lee claimed that he happened by a friend's apartment and wanted to surprise her by climbing the wall and tapping on the window. He fell and hurt his hip on an iron fence. Lee missed about five weeks and ended up 4-6 with a 4.96 ERA in 24 games (18 starts) in 1980.
Lee was a reliever and spot starter in 1981. He went 5-6 with six saves and a 2.94 ERA in 31 games (7 starts). Bill got into one game in the NLDS and one game in the NLCS and pitched a total of one inning without giving up any runs.
Bill was a reliever in 1982 and had pitched in seven games (0-0, 4.38 ERA) when he left the team on May 8 after his friend Rodney Scott was released. The Expos released Lee on May 9 and he never pitched in the majors again.
After his major league career Bill traveled a lot and played in various independent league and senior league games in the U.S. and in other countries. He wrote a few books and also owns The Old Bat Company in Vermont.
Liked to face: Barry Bonnell (.000 in 12 AB); Jerry Royster (.059 in 17 AB); Dave Collins (.105 in 19 AB)
Hated to face: Don Baylor (.459 in 37 AB); Willie Horton (.452 in 42 AB); John Ellis (.438 in 42 AB)
Bill Lee on baseball - 2008
Bill Lee on what happened to the Expos (he gets some years and team names confused, but he definitely has an opinion on what happened to the ballclub).