One Small Step for Man: Spaceman Wins for Pacifics

Famed pitcher tosses complete-game victory at age 65 against the Maui Na Koa Ikaika at Albert Park.

Chalk one up for the grayhairs of the world.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee, the 65-year-old former Boston Red Sox great, pitched a complete-game victory for the San Rafael Pacifics on Thursday night, breaking his own record for the oldest pitcher to win a professional baseball game, according to the team.

"I've just solidified myself as the best old guy on the planet," Lee said after a 9-4 win over Maui as autograph-seeking fans mobbed him.

Lee, who spent time growing up in San Rafael, was playing on a one-game contract for the Pacifics, a new unaffiliated minor league team. The Pacifics are heading into the playoffs with a team from Maui this weekend to determine the North American League's North Division champion.

The Pacifics beat the Maui Na Koa Ikaika at Albert Park, with Lee pitching the full game even as he appeared to limp through the last few innings. He gave up eight hits with no walks and no strikeouts.

He even batted in a run on single in the bottom of the fifth, a line drive to right that scored Chad Bunting and got the Pacifics on the board. The Pacifics said it's fair to assume that Lee now holds the record for the oldest player to drive in a run in a professional baseball game.

Pacifics catcher D.J. Dixon stepped to the plate with a chance to break a 4-4 tie. "I thought to myself, 'I want Spaceman to get the win,' and I just wanted to swing and hope that I made contact," Dixon said. "It happened and I was just so happy for (Lee). I'm glad it worked out." 

Pacifics manager and former Los Angeles Dodgers player Mike Marshall nearly took Lee out in the top of the eighth inning. The Pacifics were up 7-4, but the lead-off batter hit a single on the first pitch.

Going into the inning, Lee had told Marshall, "If I get in any trouble, come get me," Marshall later said.

Lee was tiring, and his record-breaking win was on the line. However, as Marshall jogged to the mound, Lee held up his index finger, looked up from under his mop of white hair, and mouthed "one more."

Marshall turned around, and Lee retired the next six batters to win the game.

As he walked off the field afterward, Lee, a graduate of Terra Linda High School, dropped to his knees and kissed the ground, to loud cheers from the sellout crowd of 1,295.

"The main thing is cut your head off and let your body do the work, you don't think out there and you play really well," Lee said. "I'm still able to do this because I never quit."

Marshall called Lee's outing "one of the greatest performances I've ever seen on the baseball field."

The Pacifics will play the Maui Na Koa Ikaika again in a three-game playoff series starting Friday night. More information about the games is available on the Pacifics' website.

— Bay City News Service and the San Rafael Pacifics contributed to this report.

San Francisco Chronicle coverage

Marin Independent Journal coverage


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