David Wells' Perfect
"Perfect I'm Not! Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches &
Baseball" is the name of the new book by portly and pugnacious Yankee
hurler David Wells.
He claims in the book that he was "half drunk" when he pitched a perfect
game in 1998. Now he backs away from the "half drunk" commentary and
claims he was hung over. This first and perhaps last literary effort by
Wells is an embarrassment to all.
Part of the title of the book comes from the great game he pitched in
1998. Back then unlike now - - he was "perfect."
Going into the game on May 17, 1998, the season had been a checkered one
for the burly flake David Lee Wells out of Torrance, California. He took
the mound with a 5.23 ERA. Consistency was his problem, some said
Wells marched always to his own drummer, one game wearing an actual Babe
Ruth hat on the mound before he was told by manager Joe Torre to take it
off. In a start on May 6 in Texas, he had been lifted by Torre. Wells not
too tactfully flipped the ball to his miffed manager as he left the mound.
On this 17th day of May, three days shy of his 35th birthday, Wells took
the mound on a Sunday against the Minnesota Twins. He was locked in right
from the start. Between innings, he sat next to David Cone who was a
In the seventh inning, Cone told him: "It is time to break out the
knuckleball," Wells laughed, a big if nervous one. "I started getting
really nervous," Wells recalled. "I knew what was going on, I was hoping
the fans would kind of shush a little bit. They were making me nervous."
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Wells went through neck and arm
stretches in the dugout. The crowd of 49,820 gave him a standing ovation
as he came out to pitch the ninth with the Yankees leading 4-0. Bernie
Williams supplied most of the Yankee offense, three hits including a home
The Twins went quickly. Rookie Jon Shave flew out to right. Javier
Valentin fanned, the 11th K for Wells. Pat Meares lofted a fly to right.
Paul O'Neill gloved it. Wells pumped his left fist twice at the ground
after the final out that ended his perfect day on the mound after two
hours and forty minutes. Swarmed over by his teammates, he was carried off
Billy Crystal walked into the clubhouse after the game, walked over to the
ecstatic Wells and asked: "I got here late, what happened?"
It was last done by Don Larsen - a perfect game at Yankee Stadium. Larsen
and Wells share another distinction. They both attended Point Loma High
School in San Diego. They both are also flakes, to be kind.
# # #
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
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