Tag Archives: # ALVIN DARK

BOOMER’S PERFECT GAME – 17 YEARS AGO ON MAY 17

Seventeen years ago today, on the Seventeenth of May, 1998, David ‘Boomer’ Wells pitched the thirteenth perfect game in baseball history. He did it in Yankee Stadium, before 49,820 fans and he did it in just 2 hours and 40 minutes. The win brought his record for the year to 5-1 but, at the time, he had an earned run average of 4.45.

He struck out 11 batters while facing the minimum of 27 over nine innings as the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 4-0. The win brought the Yankees record to 28 wins and 9 losses and left them 3 ½ games in first place in the American League East.

The Yankees, facing LaTroy Hawkins, who would later pitch for them, managed only six hits in the game. Offensively, it was the Bernie Williams Show for the Yankees as their center fielder doubled in the second inning, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch to put them ahead
1-0.

In the fourth, with two outs, Williams hit the first pitch he saw for a homer to make it 2-0 and, in the seventh, he doubled and scored the Yankees third run when designated hitter Darryl Strawberry tripled to drive him in. Left fielder Chad Curtis singled to score Strawberry with the only other run of the game.

Remarkably, in his last start prior to this, on May 12, Wells had retired the last ten batters he faced, making it 37 batters in a row he had faced without allowing a base runner. The perfect game was the first by a Yankee pitcher since Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. The perfect game occurred three days before his 35th birthday. He was born in Torrance, California on May 20, 1963.

In the 1998 American League Championship Series that year he won two games, pitching 15 2/3 innings, striking out 18 and giving up,just 5 runs against the Cleveland Indians. He won Games 1 and 5 and was named Most Valuable Player in the series. The Yankees went on to sweep the San Diego Padres in the World Series and Wells won Game 1.

He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1982 draft and made his major league debut for them , against the Yankees on June 30, 1987 and gave up nine hits and four runs in four innings getting the loss.

He played for nine different Major League teams, the Blue Jays, Yankees, Detroit Tigers, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, some of them more than once, from 1987 until 2007.

He made his last appearance at age 44, on September 28, 2007, as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, lasting six innings, giving up just two earned runs on seven hits, and getting the win against the San Francisco Giants.

He was in three World Series, two with the Yankees and one with the Blue Jays and was named to three All Star teams. In 1999 and 2000, he led American League pitchers in complete games with seven and nine.

Wells finished the 1998 season with a record of 18-4 and a 3.49 ERA in 214 innings pitched. The previous year, with the Yankees, he had won 16 and lost 10.

On February 18, 1999, the Yankees traded Wells, Homer Bush and Graeme Lloyd to the Toronto Blue Jays for another pretty good pitcher, Roger Clemens.

In the next two years with the Jays, Wells was 17-10 and 20-8, the only time he won 20 games in his career. In the four year period from 1997-2000, he won 71 and lost 32. In his career, he won 239 and lost just 157.

David Wells had a long career in baseball but never had a greater moment than when Minnesota shortstop and number nine hitter Pat Meares flied out to Paul O’Neill in right for the last out of the perfect game seventeen years ago today.

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ALVIN DARK, SHORTSTOP AND MANAGER, DEAD AT 92

Alvin Dark, who made his Major League Debut with the Boston Braves on July 14, 1946, over 68 years ago, passed away yesterday at his home in Easley, South Carolina, at the age of 92. Dark was born January 7, 1922 in Comanche, Oklahoma. He played and managed in the Major Leagues from 1946 until 1977.

After serving with the Marines in World War II, he was drafted as a quarterback by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1945 but after being drafted by the Boston Braves as a shortstop, chose baseball.

He came up as a shortstop and played in just 15 games with the Braves in 1946 and had his first full season with them in 1948. In that rookie year, he hit .322, the highest average he would ever record, and was named Baseball Rookie of the Year. This was before there was a Rookie of the Year Award for each league. The Braves won the National League pennant that year and lost the World Series to the Cleveland Indians.

He was with the Braves from 1948 until December of 1949, when he was traded to the New York Giants along with Eddie Stanky. He played for the Giants from 1950 to 1956 . In 1951, he was the Captain of the Giants team, Managed by Leo Durocher, that won the NL pennant in a playoff against the Dodgers. That is the year that Bobby Thompson hit what has always been known as the Shot Heard Round the World to defeat the Dodgers in the ninth inning of the final playoff game.

In that final playoff game to decide the pennant, with the Dodgers up 4-1 in the last of the ninth, and the series tied at two games each, Dark started a rally with a single off Don Newcomb that led to Thompson’s dramatic game winning homer which sent the Giants to the World Series where they were defeated by the Yankees.

The Giants won the pennant again in 1954 and Dark hit .412 in the Series as the Giants swept the Cleveland Indians. The 1954 season was the season in which Willie Mays made his famous basket catch in the World Series.

He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in June of 1956 with Whitey Lockman and the Cards got Red Schoendeinst in return. He was with them until May of 1958 when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. He then was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in January of 1960 for Richie Ashburn and, in June of that year, he was traded for Joe Morgan to the Milwaukee Braves where he finished his playing career.

He had a batting average of .289 in his 14 year career and was named to the All Star team in 1951, 1952 and 1954. He was involved in Major League baseball for four decades.

After his playing career, he managed for 13 years, four with the San Francisco Giants, two with the Kansas City Athletics, four with the Cleveland Indians, two with the Oakland Athletics and one with the San Diego Padres. He won 994 games and lost 954 in his managerial career and won the 1962 National League pennant with the Giants but lost the World Series to the Yankees in seven games. He won the American League pennant in 1974 with the Oakland Athletics and won the World Series, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games.

While with the New York Giants in the fifties, he shared the New York shortstop limelight with the Yankees’ Phil Rizzuto and the Dodgers Pee Wee Reese both of whom became Hall of Famers.

In his career he played for the New York Giants before they moved to San Francisco and then managed them in San Francisco. He also played for the Boston Braves before they moved to Milwaukee and then played for them in Milwaukee and managed the Kansas City Athletics before they moved to Oakland and then managed them in Oakland. Being employed as a player or manager, by three different Major League franchises, each in two different cities, at different times, may be unique in baseball history.

Alvin Dark never made it to the Hall of Fame but he had an outstanding career, both as a Player and Manager. He was one of the last links to those great teams of the forties and fifties. He played against and with such greats as Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial, Rizzuto and Reese and managed Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Reggie Jackson and other greats.

He was also one of a diminishing number of World War II Veterans to whom we owe such a debt of gratitude and who we honored this week on Veteran’s Day.