I made this post to SABR-L today.
Maxwell Kates wrote: Attending the SABR Convention in Toronto?
Unfortunately no. But I do want to pass along something I wrote up about Geddy Lee, who SABReren might see at the Blue Jays games or read about in the local papers.
Geddy Lee plays bass guitar and synthesizer, foots the pedals and sings for the rock group RUSH. The Canadian trio, who recently celebrated their 30th year together, has sold over 35 million records. In 1996, they each received the Order of Canada (Officer), an honor that recognizes “a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large.”
When RUSH is not in the studio or on the road, Lee loves to travel with his wife, go hiking and play tennis. His biggest passion, however, is, baseball. A big Blue Jays fan, Geddy, whose real name is Gary Lee Weinrib, is often seen sitting in the seats behind home plate. From time to time, newspaper articles covering the game will note something like, “Canadian rock legend Geddy Lee took in the game.”
I’ve often watched some of the Jays’ games on TV just to catch a glimpse of this musician whose career I have followed since 1976. This past June I watched a Nationals-Blue Jays game on the tube and saw Geddy sitting in his usual spot close to the action. Fifty-something, wearing glasses and sporting long brown hair, Father Lee was keeping score and explaining various aspects of the game to his daughter Kyla.
Geddy, whose Polish parents are holocaust survivors, first gave RUSH fans an indication he might be a baseball fan around the time the Blue Jays played their inaugural season in 1977. One of their albums at the time included a picture of the three, poker-faced lads from Ontario. Lee is seen wearing tennis shoes with the Detroit Tigers Gothic D stitched on the side.
In subsequent years, Geddy wore Blue Jays’ jerseys at some of RUSH’s shows. Inside their tour programs he wrote about his equipment, referring to a favorite bass guitar as a “Most Valuable Player.” Frank Thomas of the White Sox seemed to be one of his favorite players and isn’t it interesting how the month of March often found the Rush tour swinging by Florida or in between legs?
In 1982, RUSH released SIGNALS, their ninth studio album. The liner notes contain the positions the band and crew played during games of, presumably, softball. Geddy is credited with holding down the pitching duties. Included in the Thank You section is a tip of the hat to Warren Cromartie, the Montreal Expos and Intellivision Baseball. Cromartie acknowledges his friendship with Lee in his book Slugging It Out in Japan. Geddy has also befriended several major league players.
Lee grew up in the suburb of Willowdale and still calls Toronto home. He has won numerous awards for his influential bass playing and is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. To say the least, he has a unique voice. Critics have laid it on heavy at times, especially in the 70s when Lee often accentuated the lyrics with, let’s say, pitches that were high. Geddy, however, seems to have gotten the last laugh. In 1993, at the All-Star Game in Baltimore, he sang his country’s national anthem (in a lower key, of course).
In addition to being a fan of the game, Lee also has an interest in baseball history. There is a picture somewhere in one of my seven RUSH scrape-books that shows him smiling in a room adorned with his baseball photos and memorabilia. At least one person who interviewed him was very impressed with his knowledge of teams and players.
Geddy, a soft-spoken man, is as crazy about the game as he has ever been. A few months ago, when asked when RUSH would begin working on their new album, he replied that it would be AFTER the World Series.
If you’re going to Toronto for the convention, here’s a little RUSH trivia. In 1981, on their multi-platinum album, Moving Pictures, the band recorded the instrumental YYZ. The title comes from the airport code for Toronto. Neil Peart, the group’s drummer and lyricist noted at the time, "It is always a happy day when YYZ appears on our luggage tags."
If you’re going to Toronto for the convention, here’s hoping you too will have a pleasurable time.