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Vermont's most famous former baseball player's pitch for governo - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont's most famous former baseball player's pitch for governor

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Fringe candidates for public office often come out of Left Field.

But this year, the best nationally-known name on the lineup of candidates for governor comes out of the bullpen.

Former Red Sox and Expos pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee pitched with guts and guile, giving out-of-this-world interviews on the game and world politics.

"I'm a pragmatic, conservative, forward thinker," said Lee, Liberty Union candidate for governor.

Now, he's throwing his hat into the race to be Vermont's next governor shaking off campaign contributions and decrying wealth inequality.

"You get what you pay for, if you want change, you vote for Sanders or me. I'm Bernie-heavy, I'm not Bernie-lite. My ideas were before Bernie," said Lee. "If you want to see money come down from the 2 percent, we're going to need umbrellas when I'm elected, because it's going to be raining dollars," he said. 

Lee is believed to have played more professional baseball games than any other person, playing semi-pro and minor league games well into his 60s.

This weekend he toed the rubber in exhibition games up in Montreal, before lacing up for a Sunday game in Vermont's 35-plus league.

"The problem with Americans is their fist is like this (closed), and you got to open your hands. Republicans are pterodactyls, they have little short arms that never get to their front pockets," said Lee.

Lee famously quipped that marijuana sprinkled on his pancakes immunized him from Boston bus fumes as he jogged to Fenway Park during his nine years with the club.

He argues for legalization and taxation of pot in Vermont, along with single-payer health care, paid family leave and bringing the Expos back to Montreal.

In 1988 he ran for president under the Canadian Rhinoceros Party which touted positions like bulldozing the Rocky Mountains so that Alberta could receive a few extra minutes of daylight and a ban on deadly guns and butter.

Now, he'll run under Liberty Union's banner, a small party best-known for launching Sen. Bernie Sander's political career and Peter Diamondstone's perennial candidacy.

"If things don't go our way, if we get Trump as president, I'm out of here and I'll take Vermont with us," said Lee.

Don't expect a political endorsement from his battery mate catcher and Burlington's Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger.

But spectators, and those who shared the field with him say any good squad needs a crafty lefty.

"With the political scene as it is I would vote for him," said Jim McDaniel, Middlebury Woodchucks pitcher. 

"I will have to wait of course to see what the alternatives are, but based on what he said he certainly offers some interesting suggestions," said Kim Hallady, Burlington Cardinals fan. 

Vermont's all-party gubernatorial debate went viral in 2014.

With Lee stepping up to the plate, it's likely to be another quirky political home run.

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