David Wells

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David Wells
San Diego Padres — No. 33
Starting Pitcher
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Major League Baseball debut
June 30, 1987 for the Toronto Blue Jays
Selected MLB statistics
(through August 29, 2006)
Record     229-146
ERA     4.07
Strikeouts     2105
Former teams

David Lee "Boomer" Wells (born May 20, 1963 in Torrance, California) is a Major League Baseball player who was one of the game's better left-handed pitchers at various times during the past several years. He currently pitches for the San Diego Padres, and has also pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Boston Red Sox. He is one of only 17 pitchers who have pitched a perfect game in the past 130 years of Major League Baseball.


[edit] 1987-1998

Nicknamed "Boomer" for his physique (6-3, listed at 250 pounds (113 kg) but thought to be much more) and off-field interests such as Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Wells was a journeyman starter for the first eight seasons of his career. He debuted for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1987 as a reliever and did not secure a job as a full-time starter until he was 30 years old, despite pitching well most of the time.

He emerged as a top-flight pitcher in 1995, when he was 32. After starting the year at 10-3 for the last-place Detroit Tigers and making his first All-Star Game appearance, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for C.J. Nitkowski, Mark Lewis, and prospect Dave Tuttle. He finished that season with a 16-8 record and a 3.26 ERA. At the end of the season he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Curtis Goodwin and prospect Trovin Valdez. In 1996 he pitched then-career high 224 innings but finished with an 11-14 record.

In 1997, he signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees, his favorite team because of a lifelong interest in baseball legend Babe Ruth. He asked for uniform number 3, and was of course denied, as the Babe's number had been long retired. He ended up taking 33 for the Yankees. (He wore 3 for the Red Sox in 2005, before deciding to switch numbers with teammate Edgar Renteria who wore # 16 and gave Renteria his number 3--a number which he wore when he was with the Cardinals, Wells did it to try to end a slump.) After posting a 16-10 mark in 1997, Wells pitched brilliantly in the Yankees' record-setting 1998 season. He rang up an 18-4 record, finished fifth in the league in ERA (3.49) and was third in voting for the Cy Young Award.

On May 17, 1998, Wells became the 15th pitcher in major league history to pitch a perfect game when he blanked the Minnesota Twins, 4-0. In an interesting historic note, Wells attended the same San Diego high school as Don Larsen, whose perfect game for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series remains the only no-hitter ever thrown in postseason play and was until then the only perfect game thrown by a Yankee. David Cone would add a third Yankee perfect game in 1999.

[edit] 1999-2003

After the season, Wells returned to the Blue Jays as part of a trade for Roger Clemens, along with Homer Bush and Graeme Lloyd. He continued to win north of the border, with records of 17-10 and 20-8 over the next two years. He and pitcher Matt DeWitt were then traded to the Chicago White Sox, in a deal that was quickly mired in controversy. The primary player being traded by the White Sox, starting pitcher Mike Sirotka, was injured at the time of the deal, and he never pitched in the major leagues again. Toronto's general manager, Gord Ash, had not made the deal contingent on the results of a medical examination, however, and MLB ruled in favor of the White Sox. The Blue Jays thus received only Kevin Beirne, Brian Simmons, and minor leaguer Mike Williams, and the mistake ultimately cost Ash his job.

The deal did not turn out particularly well for the White Sox, either, as Wells struggled with back problems in 2001 and pitched only 100 2/3 innings. After the season's end, he returned to the Yankees, a deal that was again immersed in controversy as he had already reached an oral agreement to join the Arizona Diamondbacks. Despite having lost some velocity from his fastball, he retained his excellent curveball and his control, and posted an outstanding 19-7 record in 2002.

Wells was the subject of some controversy prior to the 2003 season, when his autobiography Perfect I'm Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball, was published. The book upset the Yankees' management, and Wells was fined $100,000 by the team for disparaging comments which appeared in it. One of them included himself having a hangover when he pitched his perfect game. Among the other controversial statements were claims that he strengthened his pitching arm as a youth by throwing rocks at homeless people and that his minor league team, the Kinston Blue Jays, had segregated stands in 1983 despite ample evidence to the contrary. Amusingly, Wells claimed to have been misquoted in the book, which was presumably penned by a ghost writer. The problems didn't carry over to the field, however. Wells posted a 15-7 record and helped the Yankees win another pennant.

On September 28, 2003, the final day of the regular season, Wells earned the 200th win of his career in a game managed by Clemens, who had won his 300th game earlier in the season and was thought to be retiring from baseball (Clemens ended up putting off his retirement). Regular Yankees manager Joe Torre let Clemens manage the last, meaningless game of the regular season, and Clemens pulled Wells from the game in the eighth inning.

[edit] 2004-Present

On January 1, 2004, Wells was signed as a free agent by the San Diego Padres to a one-year contract. Wells posted a 12-8 record with a 3.73 ERA to start off his second stint in the National League.

On December 11, 2004, Wells signed a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox and took the uniform number 3, reminding many of another full-bodied, gregarious, left-handed Sox pitcher who wore the same number in the past, Babe Ruth.

Getting off to a bad start, many fans questioned the decision of general manager Theo Epstein, but after coming off of the DL and getting rocked in his first start back in Oakland - and changing his uniform number from 3 to 16 - David Wells became the same dominating pitcher he was in the past. He went on to post a 15-7 record, with a 4.45 ERA. Wells pitched much better than his ERA may show, but had a few very poor outings, which caused his ERA to "balloon." After the 2005 season, Wells requested a trade back to the West Coast, but he eventually withdrew that request and resigned himself to one last year pitching for the Red Sox.

On March 28, 2006, the Red Sox announced that Wells would begin 2006 on the disabled list, as he was still recovering from surgery performed on his right knee. After pitching one game on April 12, he was once again placed on the 15-day disabled list. He announced that if his knee does not improve he would retire. Wells came off the disabled list on May 26, to make his second start of the year against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

On August 31, 2006, with the Red Sox post-season chances fading, Wells' wish of finishing his career playing for a West Coast team and a playoff contender was granted when he was traded back to the Padres for San Diego Padres top catching prospect George Kottaras.

Following the 2006 season, Wells filed for free agency. For players who are already planning on retiring, this is a customary move in case one changes his mind. Wells' agent had stated the pitcher will keep his options open but his physical condition will play a large part in making the final decision whether or not to return for another season. [1] Eventually, Wells decided to stay with the Padres, agreeing in principle on a one-year deal worth $3 million in base salary with a possible $4 million more in incentives. The deal is expected to be finalized on January 22 or 23, 2007, pending a physical examination and minor contract details. On March 18, 2007, he revealed that he was suffering from [[Type 2 Diabetes, also called Type B Diabetes].

Wells owns a career record of 230-148, including a 164-90 mark since 1995. He is 82 games over .500 for his career, a record superior to many of the finest pitchers in baseball history. His career ERA of 4.06 looks unimpressive, but it is above average for the big-hitting era in which he's had his best seasons. Despite his amazing longevity and many achievements, most considered him to be at best a borderline candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame; while there are other pitchers in the Hall who came back from lackluster starts to their careers (i.e. Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan), none of them took until their 30s to achieve baseball success as Wells did.

Actuary Jon Ketzner once said Wells has "the best body in baseball." He is widely considered to have been joking - but Wells' longevity is nonetheless quite notable.

On March 18th, 2007, it was revealed that Wells has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes is more closely associated with lifestyle factors, such as diet, but the condition of people with a genetic disposition for diabetes can be exacerbated with chronic high blood sugar, as insulin resistance can be an adaptation of insulin in the wake of too-high blood sugar over time. 2

[edit] Criticism

Wells is sometimes criticized for a lack of tact. For example, he will sometimes speculate on which players are using steroids- a topic that many players consider to be taboo.

In his book "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty" sports writer Buster Olney described Wells as...

"...a seasoned power pitcher who showed no signs of slowing down.

"Plus, [David] Boomer Wells was a pain in the ass.

"Wells had compiled an 18-4 record in the season before, and in his two years with the Yankees, he had won all five of his postseason starts and had thrown a perfect game. He was a left-handed pitcher with exceptional control...only Randy Johnson was better matched to Yankee Stadium, a place forever kind of lefties. But Wells was troublesome and inconsistent: throughout his career, these were the only constants in his personality."[1]

[edit] Career Bests

  • Wins in a Season: 20, with Toronto Blue Jays in 2000
  • Strikeouts in a Season: 169, with Toronto Blue Jays in 2000
  • Best Cy Young Result: 3rd, with New York Yankees in 1998
  • Strikeouts in One Game: 16 with New York Yankees, against Oakland Athletics, July 30, 1997
  • Innings Pitched in One Season: 231.2, with Toronto Blue Jays in 1999
  • Best Single Season ERA as a Starting Pitcher: 3.14, with Toronto Blue Jays in 1990
  • Fewest Walks Per 9 Innings in a Season: .85, with New York Yankees in 2003

[edit] Awards

  • 1998 ALCS MVP, against the Cleveland Indians
  • All-Star in 1995,1998, 2000, for Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively.
  • 2-time World Series Champion with the Toronto Blue Jays (1992) and New York Yankees (1998).

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Kenny Rogers
Perfect game pitcher
May 17, 1998
Succeeded by
David Cone
Preceded by
Marquis Grissom
American League Championship Series MVP
Succeeded by
Orlando Hernandez
In other languages