"We’re thankful to see this big smile from Bill Lee, who is in stable condition at UMass Memorial," said the Worcester Red Sox
Retired Major League Baseball pitcher Bill Lee, known affectionately by Boston Red Sox fans as “Spaceman,” is recovering after collapsing on the field before a minor league game on Thursday.
The Worcester Red Sox shared a photo of Lee, 76, holding a thumbs-up and smiling in a hospital gown Thursday night, saying the whole team and their fanbase is “thinking of you, Spaceman!”
“We’re thankful to see this big smile from Bill Lee, who is in stable condition at UMass Memorial after experiencing a brief health scare earlier this evening,” the team wrote alongside the photo of Lee recovering in the hospital.
The former Red Sox pitcher collapsed on the field while he was playing catch with someone else before the game started, MassLive.com reported. Lee was at the field to take part in the team’s “Throwback Thursday” event, where he was supposed to toss out the first pitch and meet fans throughout the contest.
The outlet reported that the minor league team’s trainers rushed over to help him and that he was smiling and laughing with the team’s coaches and trainers in the dugout before he was taken to the hospital.
It was the second time Lee collapsed within about a year. Last August, Lee experienced a more dire situation when he collapsed before a Savannah Bananas game and was treated at a local hospital for a “cardiac episode,” according to the Savannah Morning News.
The newspaper reported at the time that Lee needed help walking off the field after that incident and that first responders on scene described the medical incident as a close call.
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“I would say without immediate intervention, that person would not be alive right now," Town of Thunderbolt Administrator Bob Milie told the newspaper that night. "He had a cardiac episode that stopped his breathing. That only ends one way normally, but their direct involvement saved his life."
The left-handed pitcher, who is married to Diana Donovan, is a beloved figure among Red Sox fans. He was inducted into the team’s hall of fame in 2008 after a 13-year career that also saw him pitch for the Montreal Expos.
Throughout his career, Lee won 119 games and struck out 713 batters as many fans took a liking to his outlandish personality. A marijuana advocate, Lee ran for office twice unsuccessfully after retiring from baseball in 1982.
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