Bill 'Spaceman' Lee: Former LHP Red Sox, Expos


1. Could you tell us your story on dropping down?

I didn’t start dropping down sidearm until after I hurt my shoulder in the 76’ brawl. I would only mix in to lefties though never righties. Would drop down on my slider and then my 2 seam fastball. They basically acted like two brand new pitches for me. 

 2. What are some of the advantages you had from your arm angle?

The advantage for me, was the pitch broke more. It was also just another different pitch for me to throw to the hitter. Instead of my 12-6 curveball, it was now 9-5 movement to the hitter. 

 3. If you didn't drop down, do you think you would have had the same success?

No I didn’t need to, until after I hurt my shoulder. I have a knuckleball too that I’ve never thrown in games, I’m just waiting til I get older to throw it! lol

 4. What would you tell someone debating on changing their arm angle?

 Changing arm angles and slots is really usually a last resort type of thing. If your struggling then perhaps you should. For me the key to pitching is to be smooth. If you are smooth the ball will jump out towards the hitter. Nice, free and easy. You need to get rid of any taps or ticks that aren’t repeatable. Robin Roberts reached the big leagues throwing nothing but fastballs, he was smooth as silk. All his fastballs weren’t necessarily the same speed. 2 seam-4seam, take a little off when needed.  

  5. Are there any mechanical tips that you'd give to someone throwing sidearm/submarine?

You have to be a dancer out there on the mound. I had many different pitches in my arsenal and I used all of them! I would mix up my rhythm to mess up the hitters’ rhythm. I would move fast down the mound then throw easy, then I would move slow down the mound and come at them hard. Always messing with them. Throwing strikes and working fast and your defence will stay behind you. Obviously in the big leagues I had some amazing defence behind me, great catchers which helps but learning to trust your defence and not do everything yourself will keep your pitch count down. Ultimately keep your arm healthier too with less pitches. Better level you play with better hitters you face, the better defence you should have behind you. 

6. What pitches did you throw?

Fastball, curve, slider and change up. I had a quirk in my body,  I couldn’t throw the same pitch twice at the same speed. lol I threw 4 different pitches at 4 different speeds. I would add and subtract, I was basically pitching in 3 dimensions when most pitchers it’s just 2 dimensional.

 7. How did you pitch to lefties/righties?

Lefties- that’s when I would drop down with my fastball or slider, but only really to very good hitters like a Rod Carew or Tony Oliva.                                                                                    Righties I would go sinker away but if they were starting to look away I would come inside with a slider and got a lot of groundball’s to third base.                                                      

Key to any off-speed is being able to throw it for a strike when behind in the count. I had command of my curveball because I threw it when I was 9 yrs old, that’s probably not a thing anymore. Read somewhere thought that the curveball is coming back, more pitchers using it more in the big leagues. First pitch sinkers down the middle of plate and let them hit it. If they can’t hit the first one, I’ll throw it again then the third I will blow it by you lol  Can’t be afraid to pitch inside either, I remember Bob Gibson and he wasn’t afraid to hit you. Can’t let the hitter get comfortable in the box. The plate is 17 inches- 2 inches inside and 2 inches outside are yours the other 13 are the hitters lol

8. What was your favorite part about pitching from down there?

Win, lose or rain delay be happy you get to put on a jersey!