Neyer: The oral history of David Wells' perfect game

From SABR member Rob Neyer at Complex on May 17, 2017:

For all the New York Yankees’ storied and glorious history, before 1998 the franchise could claim just one perfect game: Dan Larsen’s wildly improbable performance against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. That was until David Wells in 1998, a most imperfect Yankee in what would become the Yankees’ greatest season.

But the '98 Yankees, who would win 114 regular season games and only lose twice in the postseason, didn't start so hot. Dropping four of their first five games, their sole victory required extra innings. Naturally—because, you know, New York and George Steinbrenner—people began to wonder if manager Joe Torre was another loss or two from losing his job, much as Yogi Berra had been fired after just 16 games back in 1985.

This time Steinbrenner didn’t panic, and all the Yankees did was win eight in a row, 14 of 15, and 22 of 24. By the time May 17 rolled around, the Yankees were an incredible 27-9, with David Wells, just a few days short of his 35th birthday, slated to start their Sunday matinee against the Minnesota Twins. Wells, known for his rubber arm, love of a good party, and unique physique, entered his start with a 4-1 record, but also a 5.23 ERA, largely because he’d given up 10 home runs in just 52 innings.

Before and since Larsen’s perfect game, the Yankees boasted innumerable winning seasons and staffs full of supremely talented pitchers. But nobody else had matched Larsen…until May 17, when the hungover and sleep-deprived Wells retired all 27 Twins he faced in the game that perhaps best epitomized the Yankees’ record-breaking season. Here, Wells, along with teammates and opponents, talks about a bleary-eyed lefty putting together one of the greatest games in franchise history.

Read the full article here: http://www.complex.com/sports/2017/05/oral-history-hungover-david-wells-unlikely-perfect-game

This page was last updated May 17, 2017 at 11:09 am MST.