According to a witness who was present at the scene, the 75-year-old pitcher Bill Lee, who had previously played in the major leagues, had stopped breathing after collapsing in the bullpen during an exhibition game. However, paramedics and two shocks from a defibrillator were able to help resuscitate the patient.
The Town of Thunderbolt Administrator Bob Milie told The Associated Press on Saturday, a day after the cardiac event that occurred during a game for the popular Savannah Bananas, that “I do not believe he would be alive today” if urgent attention had not been provided.
Milie, who is also a firefighter in the Georgia town a few miles outside Savannah, stated that the man “wasn’t breathing” when they arrived at the scene. “The situation was quite critical.”
On Saturday, the Bananas manager, Eric Byrnes, took a picture of himself with Lee, who is a player who is enshrined in the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, and shared it to Twitter. Lee was at the Memorial Health University Medical Center.
According to the team president, Jared Orton, one of Lee’s daughters had recently come in town and was visiting her father in the hospital.
“She said he’s in good spirits and continues to be evaluated for next steps in recovery, but is obviously acting like himself,” Orton said in an email to the Associated Press. “She said he’s in good spirits and continues to be evaluated for future steps in recovery.”
According to Orton, a member of the front office staff for the Bananas remained with Lee at the hospital into midnight.
Milie was to Grayson Stadium to watch the entertaining squad known as the Bananas, who are noted for their bright yellow uniforms and their clowning antics both on and off the field. The match versus the Party Animals was broadcast on ESPN2 in the United States.
Lee, who had previously pitched for the Bananas, was affectionately known as “Spaceman” due to the irreverent style he took when playing for the Red Sox and the Montreal Expos during his career. People in the stadium had a moment of confusion when he went down on Friday night because they thought it might have been a part of their team’s “Bananas Ball” routine.
“When it comes to the Bananas, you just never know. “I was thinking, ‘is this… Wait, this is not at all a part of the play,'” Milie explained.
Milie, who was not a part of the team that treated Lee, thanked all of the emergency medical technicians, police officers, firefighters, and rescue personnel who were at the scene for their prompt response.
According to Milie, Lee was given two shocks with the defibrillator that was on the field.
He added that the second one seemed to do the work and got the heart beating. “The second one seemed to do the thing,” he said.
Lee was able to get off the field with some assistance, and play was able to continue after that.
Lee compiled a record of 119-90 over the course of 14 seasons split between Boston and Montreal. The left-handed pitcher was selected as an All-Star in 1973, contributed to the Red Sox making it to the World Series in 1975, and started Game 7 of that series against Cincinnati. After Lee’s departure in the seventh inning, Boston went on to suffer a 4-3 loss to Cincinnati.