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David Wells threw his perfect game 21 years ago today

It was today, May 17, back in 1998 that Boomer threw the 15th perfect game in MLB history and the second in Yankees team history. He struck out 11 Twins hitters en route to a 4-0 victory. Bernie Williams led the offense, going 3-for-3 with 3 runs scored and an RBI.

Wells was the Yankees ace in 1998. On the greatest team that ever lived, Wells racked up 18 wins and tossed 214.1 innings. He led the American League in winning-percentage, WHIP, walks per nine, and strikeout-to-walk ratio. The most impressive number from his ’98 season, in my opinion, are his 8 complete games (5 of which were shutouts — that also led the league).

Often times a no hitter or perfect game can derail a pitcher’s season. They throw everything they have at one game, and then inevitably have a letdown. The exact opposite happened for Wells. Before the perfecto, Wells was actually having a pretty mediocre season. In 51.2 innings he had a 5.23 ERA. After that he was lights out: 2.93 ERA in 162.2 innings. Boomer went on to win 4 games in the postseason, including the ALCS MVP award.

During the game, his manager and friend David Cone — who would throw his own perfect game the following year — were dealing with the perfect game in their own way.

Some fun facts about Wells’ perfect game

Beanie Baby Day: It was Beanie Baby day at Yankee Stadium. Tonight — 21 years later — it is Game of Thrones day at the Stadium. I wonder if we’ll look back in 21 years and feel the same way about GOT as we do Beanie Babies now?

LaTroy Hawkins started the game: Hawkins was a starter back in 1998. By 2000, he was a relief pitcher after leading the AL in runs allowed in 1999.

The Twins stunk: The only recognizable name in the Twins lineup was a 41-year old Paul Molitor. David Ortiz was on that team, but did not play because he couldn’t hit left-handed pitchers (or any pitchers) at the time. He didn’t start mashing until he became best friends with Manny Ramirez in Boston.

Wells was drunk, or at least incredibly hungover: Wells described his own condition as “half-drunk with bloodshot eyes, monster breath, and a skull-rattling hangover” because he attended a Saturday Night Live cast party the night before. He was running on about an hour of sleep, as he described in his autobiography, Perfect I’m Not. Can you  imagine if Gary Sanchez attended an SNL cast party the night before a game?

You can watch all 27 outs of the game if you have 8 minutes to waste.

 

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