Wednesday 3 April 2013


Growing up, I knew him as "Geddy".  His real name was Gary, but his mother, from Eastern Europe couldn't pronounce it that way.   It came out "Geddy", like if Zsa Zsa Gabor was saying it, so that's what stuck.    He was a neighbourhood guy in Willowdale, a couple of years older than me.  In high school, some kids thought he was kind of nerdy.  Steve Shutt, soon to be a Montreal Canadien, was considered "cool".  Geddy was not.   I found out yesterday how nerdy he really is.  In a good way, I mean.  A couple of guys from the 'hood talking baseball, not bass lines.

Geddy Lee, is, of course,  the soon-to-be-honored lead singer and bassist of "Rush".  The band will be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in two weeks.  But first things first.  Geddy Lee had some baseball business to take care of at the Bluejays home opener.   He brought his baseball glove to last night's game, something you don't see too many middle aged guys do.   Ah, but Geddy isn't your ordinary middle aged baseball fan.  He's a nut, a nerd, a baseball geek.  He's into Sabremetrics and bows to the altar of Bill James' Baseball Abstract.  He checks out his fantasy baseball team while drummer Neil Peart is playing a solo (o.k., maybe he does it between sets).   This guy knows his baseball, and you could tell he was serious about throwing out the first pitch at yesterday's Bluejays home opener.   He brought along his glove, and I just had to ask him about it, because it's a beauty.   Look how he's clutching that thing.  Like it was a purse made by Prada or Coach.   In fact, it's a Mizuno, circa 1990 and it's really worked in well.  Geddy was practicing his pitches down in the tunnel under the Indians dugout before the game.  "It's a Bryn Smith glove" he said.   "Oh, when he pitched for the Expos?" (back in the 80's)  "No, he was with the St. Louis Cardinals when he gave it to me"  I really wanted to try the glove on, but he wasn't releasing his hold on it.   He did, however, turn the glove over to reveal another autograph.  "Tom Browning" he said proudly.  "From the Reds".   I wonder who was more excited the day that glove was signed, the big league pitchers, or the geeky bass playing baseball nerd from suburban Toronto?   I mean, really, what other rock star is such a baseball freak that he would agree to pose with Peter Gammons and the "Baseball Tonight" gang?

 He's also an avid collector of baseball memorabilia, and has the means to purchase some pretty cool stuff.   I asked him about the rumour that he once purchased the left-field foul pole from old Exhibition Stadium and tried to install it in his backyard.  "Never happened" was Geddy's reply, but with a wink in his eye.  Geddy recently donated 200 signed Negro League baseballs to the Negro League Museum in Kansas City.  Such rare signatures as Cool Papa Bell and Hank Aaron and even Lionel Hampton were among those donated.  So, he's a lover of the sport and he's given back to the game.   I imagine he has the MLB package at home, and watches a lot of baseball while waiting to go on stage when he's on the road.   Fact is, back in the 70s and 80s, Chicago Cubs home games were on WGN TV during the afternoons, and Geddy spent a lot of time in his hotel room watching those games and re-discovering his love for baseball. 

His performance on the mound last night was exemplary.  Knowing that throwing off a mound is very difficult unless you practice, Geddy toed the imaginary rubber from about 55 feet and threw either a two seam fastball or a cutter that would've been a strike to any major league hitter.   He got an enormous ovation from the crowd, threw his arms up in the air in triumph (no, not the Mike Levine-Gil Moore-Rick Emmett trio) and posed for pictures on the mound.    A few moments later, a giant flag was unfurled during the National Anthems, and the game was on.
And after Geddy Lee had split the plate with a perfect ceremonial first pitch, R.A. Dickey, with nearly 50 thousand fans anxiously awaiting the start of the 2013 Bluejays season, let fly with the first pitch of the game....and promptly sent it out of the reach of catcher JP Arencibia and all the way to the backstop.   And while Dickey lacked control for most of the game, the future Hall of Famer from Willowdale was in perfect control.  Made all of us from the 'hood very proud.


  1. Nice write up Mark.

    I remember in 1977 when AFTK came out. Geddy was wearing tennis shoes with the Gothic D stitched on. I wondered if that was the Tigers D. Took a long time to find out, but it all adds up now. He even mentioned watching the Tigers.

  2. Geddy is a class act all the way. Nice strike too!

  3. To the pitcher of the first throw....

    "J u u u u u ust a bit outside; he tried the corner and missed"