End of the Fat Man?

Sorry, but I just can't bring myself to write about the yo-yo known as the Minnesota Twins, or throw more words into the hurricane already covering Barry Bonds. No, what caught my eye instead was this story, which barely registered at ESPN and MLB.com: David Wells, one of seventeen men to have pitched a perfect game (against the Twins, mind you), was released yesterday by the San Diego Padres. His career appears over and done with.

David Wells (I can't bring myself to call him 'Boomer') personified this great quote by the Tigers' own Mickey Lolich: "I guess you could say I'm the redemption of the fat man. A guy will be watching me on TV and see that I don't look in any better shape than he is..." That was Wells all over. Look at him in his most recent photo. He looks awful, fat and pasty. But he was one hell of a pitcher in his prime, and a guy who could work wonders in the postseason. His career spanned twenty seasons with eight different teams, including a short stint with Marge Schott's Cincinnati Reds. He loathed Schott, and made a point of mentioning that anytime there was a mic in his face.

The guy loved playing for the Yankees, but was also paid to pitch for the Red Sox. Like Curt Schilling, he knew his baseball history, but didn't harp about it, like Schilling does (endlessly). Wells bought Babe Ruth's hat and almost wore it in an actual game, before Steinbrenner pulled the plug. He wore number 33 for the Yanks, in honor of the Babe's number 3 (which he couldn't wear). Supposedly, he claimed that he threw his perfect game while hung over, then later claimed to be misquoted. Anyone could have told you he was merely copying the great Dock Ellis, who tossed a no-hitter while on acid.

Had this been the 1920s, he would have certainly had some horrible nickname, like 'Fatty'. The guy never shied away from his image as a beer and doughnuts kind of guy. Why this impresses me, I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps David Wells is proof that anyone can play this wicked game, that a big sucker like Wells or Lolich can win games, which means that scrawny bastards like myself could do the same. Anyone, Wells seems to say, can play baseball.

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