David Wells loving being a 'young-timer' at Old-Timers' Day
The baseball proof of that pudding is David Wells, who spent just four of his 21 MLB seasons with the New York Yankees but, to this day, remains a revered name among pinstripers past.
Wells, a lifelong Yankees fan whose Babe Ruth tattoo proves that he truly bleeds Yankee blue, had arguably his greatest success in those four years in the Bronx, reaching two World Series and, of course, becoming one of just 23 men in history to throw a perfect game.
The latter may in fact be the most important to Wells, as despite two rings, three All-Star appearances, a pair of Top 3 finishes in Cy Young voting and a 20-win season on his resume, it’s the feat he accomplished on May 17, 1998 that “Boomer” feels truly put him on the map.
“Every blind squirrel finds a nut, and I found one that day!” Wells joked, before adding that, “it puts you on the map, but to do it on the greatest stage is even better; I guess David (Cone), Don (Larsen) and I, we have that in our back pocket. It’s nice to have that and be remembered for that, because it’s not easy to do. Everything had to be done right, and there’s a lot of luck involved, too.”
Luck is one thing, but it took a lot of skill for Wells to earn the distinction as a fan favorite despite his limited time in the Bronx. He only pitched for the Yankees in 1997-98 and 2002-03, but his 68-28 record earned him respect and his endearing personality earned him a love he’s still feeling today.
Since hanging up his cleats after the 2007 season, Wells has been a fixture at Old-Timers’ Day in the Bronx every year, an opportunity he relishes each summer.
“It’s always great to come back to this great Stadium and be a part of all the Old-Timers’ festivities,” Wells told YESNetwork.com during his 2013 visit on June 23. “I get to rub elbows with the greats and a lot of my heroes, which is a lot of fun. When I was playing here, we’d see all the guys coming in for it and we’d look forward to that day, so now it’s nice to be on the other side and see everybody when I come back.”
While he never got to meet “The Babe,” of course, Wells has gotten to hobnob with some of his other idols as he mentioned, but he looks forward to seeing a few in particular each year.
“Obviously Gator (Ron Guidry), because he was my hero growing up,” Wells said, “and you can’t help but love to be around Mickey (Rivers) and Oscar (Gamble); they’re so funny, they should be doing a reality show! Whitey Ford is one of my favorites as well, but just to be with a lot of guys I played with and have gotten to know over the years is great.”
Wells still showcases that magic left arm for a few batters during each year’s Old-Timers’ Day Game, but at 50 years old, he knows it’s not his meal ticket anymore – which is why he’s decided to try his hand at broadcasting. Though inactive in that realm right now, Wells did some work with TBS on their baseball broadcasts from 2009-12 and also served as the host of the FOX Sports show “The Cheap Seats” in 2011, so he’s ready to go if someone wants to make the call.
“I’m a free agent man, and I’m ready to roll,” he laughed. “Fishing and golfing is all I’m doing right now, so anyone who wants to hire me, I’m in!”
Until that call comes, however, the beloved lefty is content to come back to New York once a year for Old-Timers’ Day – as long as you don’t quite call him by that moniker just yet.
"I am a ‘young-timer’ around here,” he laughed. “Compared to Guidry and Goose (Gossage) and (Yogi) Berra, I’m a youngin’!”