The Story of Boomer – Part 2

May 13, 2012 – A few months ago, I wrote about an interview I conducted with former Yankees pitcher David Wells at Pete & Shorty’s Tavern in Clearwater, Florida.

The reason we met at Pete & Shorty’s is because Wells commonly went there with the late George Steinbrenner, and it is where the Boss ultimately asked Wells to come back to the Yankees in 2001.

That interview — about Wells’ time with the Yankees — is for part of a story that will be published in the August Issue of Yankees Magazine.

The other part of the story details Wells’ life today as well as his younger years. Boomer is back in San Diego, which is where he grew up. In addition to serving as a Spring Training instructor with the Yankees and as a baseball analyst with TBS, Wells is the pitching coach for his alma mater.

Wells joined Point Loma High School’s coaching staff prior to the 2012 season, and Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello and I spent three days in San Diego with the Perfect Game pitcher this week.

On our first day in Southern California, we accompanied Wells to his team’s game at the field that bears his name (it was dedicated to him a few years ago).

From the time Wells got to the park until the end of the game, the former Yankee was not only teaching pitching mechanics to his players, but he also passing on the intangibles that helped him to win 239 games in the big leagues.

An example of that came when Wells and Point Loma’s starting pitcher walked from the bullpen to the dugout before the game. Wells put his arm around the young pitcher and made a joke that lightened the mood.

“Sometimes I say the same things that [Yankees former pitching] Mel Stottlemyre used to say to me before a game,” Wells said. “But if a pitcher is nervous, you just have to do something to make him laugh. It just depends on the day.”

The next day, Wells brought us to Ocean Beach, which is the neighborhood he grew up at.

It was interesting to learn about what life was like for Wells as a kid. He was raised by his mother and lived is several different apartments in Ocean Beach when he was a kid.

We drove by several of those locations before going to the Ocean Beach Recreation Center, which Wells credits for much of the success he was able to realize as an adult.

“I was at the OB Rec Center every day,” Wells said. “I’d be at there from the time school let out until dinner time. I would go home for dinner and then go back there for a few more hours.

“I played basketball for five hours a day there,” Wells continued. “If the OB Rec Center wasn’t here, I don’t know where I would have ended up. I spent almost every day of my childhood here from when I was 6 years old until I was in high school, and it kept me safe and focused on sports.”

We also visited the field where Boomer tossed the first of his two Perfect Games. Most baseball fans are aware that Wells pitched a Perfect Game for the Yankees in 1998, but his 1982 Perfecto with Point Loma High School has not been as well documented.

“I don’t remember a lot of details from that game,” Wells said to me as he looked out at the field from a set of metal bleachers. “But I have never forgotten the celebration on that mound. Everyone was jumping for joy, and I had never experienced anything like that.”

Wells is also spearheading a project in which Point Loma’s current baseball field — which is not the same field Wells played on in high school  — will be completely revamped.

Among the renovations that Wells is either paying for or raising the funds for are brand new grass and infield dirt along with a home run fence.

“I want our players to have a better facility that I had,” said Wells, who shares the same alma mater as fellow Yankees Perfect Game pitcher Don Larsen. “If we have a good facility and a good coaching staff, our players will reach their potential, and that’s very important to me.”

Overall, I believe this feature will be as comprehensive as any story written about David Wells, thanks to Boomer’s candid nature and willingness to spend so much time with me.

Be sure to look for it when you pick up your copy of the August Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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