Outspoken Yankee David Wells has drawn a bit of controversy for putting out a book in which he mentions that he pitched his 1998 perfect game hungover and talks about the prevalence of steroid use among major league baseball players. But while sensational and juicy, these revelations are such small parts of Wellsís story that it seems unfair to judge his book solely by these tidbits.
Perfect Iím Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball is a loose, enjoyable chronicle of one of modern baseballís more engaging and unforgettable personalities. In the book, Wells details not only his long and tangled path in the baseball biz, but also the more personal aspects of his story, including growing up in a female-dominated house with a tough but loving mother whose constant companions were a group of Hellís Angels.
Perfect follows Wells from his unconventional (but, he insists, loving and encouraging) upbringing into his quest to play major league ball, which included an impoverished off-season sleeping in a friendís truck and, at one point, living in a house that was, unbeknownst to him, owned by drug dealers.
His time in the majors is equally colorful, as Wells spent time in a number of clubs (Toronto, Detroit, Cincinatti and Baltimore) before coming to New York, and struggled with backaches, gout and his own self-destructive (though, he demonstrates, not that much more self-destructive than your average ballplayer).
But under it all, itís hard not to feel affection for Wells, with his plain, unvarnished adoration of the Yankees and untarnished respect for all the great players who came before him. While on the team, Wells says, he was often overcome by emotion when faced with reminders of the clubís history. Telling of being traded at the end of the 1998 season (only to return in 2002), Wells is genuinely broken up, and youíve got to feel for the guy. Itís these touching moments that make all the hubbub over the less flattering parts of the book seem almost cruel and, at the first least, beside the point.
Hangover talk, steroid use and Roger Clemens aside, Yankee fans should love the book, with its detailed description of Wellsí championship season with the team and its underlying love for all things pinstriped. Sure, those looking for gossip will find it, but those seeking the story of a man whose love of baseball has been a driving force in his life will find that as well.