David Wells was known to butt heads with others during his career and perhaps the biggest head he took on was New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
The former Yankees southpaw recalled on David Cone’s podcast, “Toeing the Slab” how after he got to the team in 1997 he nearly came to blows with the owner and even threatened to beat Steinbrenner up.
Wells explained that a Jeffrey Maier-like situation occurred in a game he pitched and when he got to the clubhouse, he saw Steinbrenner standing there.
“I go, ‘George, you gotta do something with that fence. Last year it benefitted you and today it hurt us,’” Wells said. “He looked at me and goes, ‘You ain’t no pitcher.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?’ He said, ‘You ain’t the pitcher I signed.’
“I looked at him and go, ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ He goes, ‘Well, it is what it is.’ Well if you don’t like me why don’t you trade me? He goes, ‘I tried but nobody wanted you.’ Well, that pissed me off. I got in his face. I threatened to kick his ass. … I pitched 7-8 innings that day. I said, ‘if you’re still in here after I get ice I’m gonna beat the s—t out of you.’ He goes, ‘I’m not afraid of you’ and he got in my face. I go, hmm, ok, we’ll see. Sure enough, I went in, got ice, and came out and he’s sitting there right in front of my locker.
“I said, ‘You’re still in here?’ I started ripping off my ice and ran after him and out the door he went.”
Wells explained that the next day he arrived at the stadium he walked by Joe Torre’s office and heard the phone rang, so he decided to pick it up.
“Yankee Stadium, second base, may I help you?” Wells said on the phone. “’Who is this?’ And I knew who it was. ‘This is George Steinbbrenner.’ I go, ‘Hey, buddy, how ya doing this is Boomer.’ He was silent and I said, ‘Hey George, I just want to apologize for yesterday.”
Wells continued that Steinbrenner told him to wait there and he came down and the two of them hashed things out in Torre’s office for half an hour, which ended with Steinbrenner giving Wells a hug and kiss on the cheek.
“That’s how I won George Steinbrenner over,” Wells said. “You gotta threaten him, I guess.”