RALEIGH -- Former Major League Baseball pitcher Turk Wendell stopped by the News 14 Carolina studios on Monday to talk about his 11-year career in the big leagues as a middle reliever.
Wendell pitched for the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets for most of his career and also briefly for both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Colorado Rockies.
Known as much for his personality and his game-day idiosyncrasies as he was for his pitching talent, Wendell made a name for himself and soon became a fan favorite.
Wendell is the guest of honor at the Durham Bulls baseball game on Tuesday night as part of National Honey Night. He will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and sign autographs on the concourse during the game.
Here’s an unofficial list from Wikipedia of the idiosyncrasies that made Wendell so famous and during his career:
• Wendell insisted that the umpire roll the ball to the mound rather than simply throw it to him (If an umpire would ignorantly throw the ball to him, Wendell was known to let it go past him, or even to let it bounce off his chest, after which he would retrieve it from the ground).
• Whenever he began a new inning, Wendell would turn and wave to the center fielder and wait for him to wave back before proceeding.
• At the beginning of each inning, Wendell would reportedly draw three crosses in the pitcher's mound dirt.
• Whenever his catcher stood, Wendell would crouch down.
• When entering or leaving the field, Wendell would always take a tremendous leap over the baseline.
• Wendell would chew black licorice (an alternative to the chewing tobacco used by many players).
• Wendell often brushed his teeth between innings (some claim that he brushed between every inning). While brushing, he often hid in the dugout, either by ducking behind objects or by facing the wall.
• Wendell forcefully slammed his rosin bag onto the pitcher's mound between outs.
• Wendell wore jersey number 99, but not in honor of Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, the main character in the movie Major League (played by Charlie Sheen), as many thought. He wore it because when he was traded to the Mets, Edgardo Alfonso was already wearing number 13. The clubhouse attendant tried to give him number 11, but Wendell didn't want that and asked for number 99 instead because he thought it was "cool." In addition, in 2000 he signed a contract worth $9,999,999.99.
• Wendell wore a necklace made from the claws and teeth of various animals he had hunted and killed.
• While in the minor leagues, rumor was that he drank only orange juice (no food or any other drink) on days he pitched. But he also claimed to drink four cups of coffee before each start.
• Wendell sometimes threw his glove into the stands when leaving a game.
In 2000, the New York Press Photographers Association gave Wendell the “Good Guy Award” in honor of his charitable contributions. Wendell always told reporters he did not want any media coverage of his charity work because it wasn’t why he did it.
Watch the full interview with Turk Wendell to find out more about this very interesting personality and former Major League Baseball pitcher.