If Vermont likes Sen. Bernie Saunders, the state should love former MLB pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee. At least that’s what the Spaceman himself believes as he starts campaigning to be the next governor of Vermont.
Lee told WCAX-TV he is not “Bernie Lite,” he is “Bernie Heavy” when it comes to getting the wealthy to at least pay their fair share of taxes.
“We’re going to need umbrellas when I’m elected because it’s going to be raining dollars,” said the 69-year-old.
Or more simply put, “I want to be the Robin Hood of Vermont,” Lee said.
Lee, who once called the New York Yankees “Nazis,” was described by one of his Boston Red Sox teammates, Fred Lynn, as “a good pitcher who was a little different.”
Lee never shied away from proclaiming his affection for marijuana, and discussing everything from Zen Buddhism to the federally mandated practice of bussing to integrate public schools in Boston, which is pretty much how he picked up the nickname of “Spaceman.”
After playing for the Boston Red Sox from 1969-1978, Lee was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. He pitched the most games as a left-hander for Boston (321) and had the third-highest win total by a Red Sox southpaw (94).
Lee pitched for the Montreal Expos from 1979-1982 and was named the Sporting News National League Left Hander of the Year in 1979.
He left Major League Baseball in 1982 when the Expos cut him for staging a walkout after one of his friends was released by the Montreal team.
Even though Lee left the MLB, he never stopped playing professional ball and may have been paid to play more baseball games than anyone else.
Lee signed a contract to play with the San Rafael Pacifics of the North American League in 2012, at the age of 65.
The Boston Globe reported Lee filed the needed election paperwork in Burlington in May. He is running for governor of Vermont as a member of the Liberty Union Party, the group that gave Bernie Sanders his first political platform in the 1970s.
The Liberty Union Party’s website describes the organization as a group of nonviolent socialists that support free universal healthcare, free childcare, and free education “from birth to death.”
Lee, who proudly reports he’s “outside bullsh—ing other constituents” on his phone’s voice message, described himself as a “pragmatic, conservative, forward thinker,” but couldn’t help drawing a straight line to Bernie Sanders, even though he sounds like he’s channeling Donald Trump.
“You get what you pay for. If you want change, you vote for Sanders or me. My ideas were before Bernie,” Lee said.
Along with taxing the rich, Lee wants to legalize marijuana — which is certainly not a surprise since he always said spicing his pancakes with pot is what protected him from the air pollution in Boston — and offer universal healthcare along the lines of Canada.
Speaking of America’s neighbor to the north, Lee also would like to dissolve the border between Vermont and Quebec.
And while he’s at it, Lee would like to bring one of his old teams, the Montreal Expos, back to life.
The Montreal Expos were the first MLB team based outside the U.S. borders. They played in Montreal from 1969-2004 until the team moved to Washington, D.C., and became the Washington Nationals.
He was a bit unclear as to how it would be possible and what role he could play in the Expos’ resurrection as governor of Vermont, but Lee said it would pay off for his fellow state residents.
“’Cause all the Red Sox fans have to travel through this state to get there and we’re going to grab ’em by the heels, and we’re going to shake ’em, and all the loose change is going to fall onto (Interstate) 89,” Lee told CTV.
Lee has also made it clear that he hates Republicans.
“Republicans are pterodactyls, they have little short arms that never get to their front pockets,” Lee said.
As for Donald Trump, Lee promised to leave the United States if the presumptive GOP presidential candidate winds up in the White House “and I am going to take Vermont with me.”
Lee said a Trump presidency would mean a new province of Vermont for Canada.
“We have a clause in our constitution. We can leave because we’re not one of the original colonies,” Lee told a Canadian reporter. “You’ve got healthcare, you’ve got everything.”
One of his friends accused Lee of not being serious. After all, Lee ran for president of the U.S. in 1988 as a member of the Rhinoceros Party.
But the Liberty Union Party’s candidate for governor of Vermont argued underestimating his resolve would be a mistake of colossal proportions.
Remember, this is a guy who threatened to “Van Gogh” an umpire by biting off his ear during an argument at home plate.
“I’m your worst nightmare,” Lee said. “I’m a liberal with a gun.”