Let’s never forget that a drunk David Wells threw a perfect game on ‘Beanie Baby Day’
18 years ago today on May 17, 1998, David Wells took the mound for the New York Yankees and retired all 27 Minnesota Twins hitters he faced. It was the 15th perfect game in MLB history and on ‘Beanie Baby Day’ nonetheless. You remember those, yeah?
Of course you do. Those were the s*** in the ‘90s.
Oh yeah, Wells also threw this perfect game while drunk which allows for the argument to be made that this is the greatest game ever pitched. Statistically speaking, it’s obviously not. Wells struck out 11 Twins while Sandy Koufax and Matt Cain are tied for the record with 14 strikeouts in a perfect game. You could also say that a 20 strikeout game is more impressive than a perfect game and Wells’ perfect game didn’t come in the World Series like Don Larsen’s either.
None of these other guys were hammered though. That’s just raising the stakes. You could make the case that throwing a no-hitter on LSD like Doc Ellis did is more impressive, but no-hitters are a dime a dozen and he walked eight guys. It was also the ’70s so half the guys hitting were probably on LSD too. Perfect games though? Those are lit. Only 23 of those have ever been thrown in the over 200,000 MLB games played and this one was at the peak of the Steroid Era as well.
Wells’ described his condition in his 2003 autobiography, Perfect I’m Not, as “half-drunk with bloodshot eyes, monster breath, and a skull-rattling hangover.” Wells had gotten only one hour of sleep after attending a Saturday Night live cast party until 5:30 A.M the night before, but the hefty lefty still had enough in the tank to shut down a weak-hitting Twins lineup:
Player PA AVG OBP SLG Matt Lawton, CF 162 .244 .370 .444 Brent Gates, 2B 72 .129 .236 .194 Paul Molitor, DH 175 .255 .320 .325 Marty Cordova, LF 100 .256 .350 .337 Ron Coomer, 1B 160 .269 .287 .455 Alex Ochoa, RF 84 .253 .298 .405 Jon Shave, 3B 11 .182 .182 .182 Javier Valentin, C 50 .234 .260 .404 Pat Meares, SS 149 .296 .338 .444
I know a lot about baseball. Way too much in fact. I’d estimate that I have at the very least heard of 97–98% of the players that have appeared in a MLB game since 1998. I’ve never heard of Jon Shave. No idea who that is. The first time I’ve ever heard this name.
Anyways, the Twins would go on to win 70 games in 1998 while the Yankees were possibly the greatest team in MLB history and would finish with 114 regular season wins and a World Series title. While the mismatch was evident, there was no indication that Wells would even come close to doing what he did. Wells had an ERA of 5.15 through his first nine starts, but he was coming off his best performance of the season with an eight inning, five-hit, two earned run performance against the Royals.
Pinstripe Alley compiled some fantastic GIFs of “Boomer” Wells’ perfect game. Take a look:
Nasty curve. Manny had no chance on that one and his curve was working against the Twins on this day. Wells threw his perfect game just three days shy of his 34th birthday and was one of those guys who just seemed to get better the older and more out of shape he got. Wells’ only 20-win season came at the age of 37 for the Blue Jays in 2000 and two of his three career All-Star appearances came when he was 35 years or older. He’s the closest thing to modern-day Bartolo Colon we’ve seen although I don’t think he’s even in the same ballpark as ‘Big Sexy.’
Look who started for the Twins. LaTroy Hawkins! There’s some trivia right there. Hawkins finally retired from baseball on October 25, 2015 at the age of 42 and served as a reliever for the final 16 seasons of his career. Hawkins first career start was a 1.2 inning, seven earned run disaster against the Orioles in 1995.
Ready for this one?Harold Baines hit the first career home run off of LaTroy Hawkins in that game and Baines played with the legendary White Sox great Minnie Minoso in 1980 (Minoso played two games for the White Sox in 1980 at the age of 54). Minoso made his MLB debut in 1949 on a Cleveland team that featured Satchel Paige. Satchel f******* Paige! Hawkins and Satchel Paige may as well have been teammates. Satchel Paige was born in 1906 by the way.
Chuck Knoblauch. Long live Knobby. Knoblauch was actually a Gold Glover for the Twins in 1997 and still regarded as an elite defensive second baseman at this point in his career for the Yankees. That would quickly change though when Knoblauch committed 26 errors in 1999, forgot how to throw to first base in 2000, and hit Keith Olbermann’s mom in the face with a baseball.
This kid got mad Beanie Babies on this day.
That’s the pic right there. Wells taking off his cap and celebrating while hoisted on his teammates shoulders. Legendary.