Wells Pitches A Perfect Memory

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 25, 1998

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 25, 1998

I was flipping through the television stations Sunday afternoon when I saw the news come over the ticker on ESPN2 – “David Wells throws a perfect game in 4-0 victory over Twins.”Talk about your mixed feelings. On the one hand, the Twins along with theBraves are my favorite two teams while the Yankees are the team I love to hate. On the other hand, this was baseball history and one thing I love is ahistorical event.

Perfect games are one of the rarest feats in baseball, ranking behind only unassisted triple plays and four-home run games (ironically, all three events did occur in the strike-shortened season of 1994). Wells was onlythe 15th pitcher in the 132-year history of the game to accomplish the feat (16th if you count Harvey Haddix’s masterful performance against the Braves in 1959 that was broken up in the 13th inning and you should no matter what baseball’s statisticians say) and the first to do so since Texas’ Kenny Rogers threw one against California in that fateful year of 1994.

Wells was also the first Yankee hurler to pitch a perfect game since Don Larsen did so against Brooklyn in the 1956 World Series. Ironically, bothmen attended the same high school – Point Loma in San Diego.

Fittingly, Wells’ gem came on the same weekend that Frank Sinatra died.

Not only did he do it in “New York, New York,” but like Larsen, Wells’ theme song could be “My Way.” Both offbeat characters, Larsen and Wellswere also little known before their masterpieces. Larsen was coming off arough performance earlier in the Series while Wells had nearly blown a 9- 0 lead against Texas less than two weeks prior and his status was in question.

Wells’ performance was one of the most dominating of all the perfect games. Unlike Larsen who needed a couple of superb defensive plays tokeep his masterpiece alive, Wells had only one true threat, a sharp grounder by Ron Coomer that second baseman Chuck Knoblauch (a former Twin) knocked down and recovered to make the play at first.

Wells is probably one of a handful of players in the major leagues who can truly comprehend what he accomplished. Unlike many of today’sballplayers who do not know much about the game’s past except what they watched on television growing up, Wells is a student of baseball history, once wearing a hat owned by Babe Ruth on the mound.

Baseball had a tumultuous week what with the controversial multi-player trade between the Dodgers and Marlins and the brawl Tuesday between the Yankees and Orioles that led to the suspension of five players. But 10years from now, the details of those two events will be largely forgotten.

What will be remembered is that 27 Twins came to the plate against David Wells and all 27 were sent back to the dugout without reaching base.

Yes, Wells, like the game itself, is imperfect. But that is one thing thatmade the feat more special. He showed us all that despite our ownimperfections, we can create the most perfect of moments.

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