The Story of Boomer
March 21, 2012 – On March 1, I celebrated my 33rd birthday over lunch with a guy who once wore No. 33 for the New York Yankees.
David Wells, who pitched a perfect game for the Yankees on May 17, 1998, spoke to me about his career in pinstripes at his favorite eatery in Florida.
Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello and I met Wells at Pete & Shorty’s Tavern in Clearwater for lunch and for the first part of a candid interview that will ultimately take us to San Diego in May.
The story I’m working on will detail Wells’ first and second tenures in pinstripes along with his current-day life, in which he is a Yankees spring training instructor, a baseball analyst for the TBS Network and a pitching coach for his alma mater, Point Loma High School in San Diego.
I found Pete & Shorty’s, which is famous for its delicious burgers, to be the perfect place to meet Wells at because of his history of dining there with a most-influential owner.
Following the trade in which Wells (along with Homer Bush and Graeme Lloyd) was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roger Clemens, Wells met the late George Steinbrenner at Pete & Shorty’s on several occasions, as the two became friends.
On Christmas Eve of 2001, at which time Wells was a free agent, Steinbrenner threw a curveball to the pitcher.
“He offered me a three-year deal to come back to the Yankees,” Wells said. “It was hard for me to hold back my emotions. I wanted to pump my fist, because I was so excited. George was writing out the terms of the deal on paper napkins. Finally, someone brought us some paper. It was absolutely crazy to think that the deal came together in a conversation among two friends over burgers.
“When I left the restaurant that day, I was laughing because I couldn’t believe what had just transpired,” Wells continued. “I also shed a few tears of joy because I was going to be coming back to a place I loved.”
As our conversation continued, Wells spoke to me about what it meant to throw a perfect game in pinstripes — a game that Petrozzello and I were at many years before either of us worked for the Yankees.
“It gave me a legacy in New York and with the Yankees,” Wells said. “If I had thrown a perfect game anywhere else, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. Even today, when I walk through New York City, I hear ‘Hey Booma, great perfect game.”
I will post a second blog entry about this story, which will be published in the August issue of Yankees Magazine, following my upcoming trip to San Diego.
–Alfred Santasiere III