Wild child: 'Wild Thing' left mark on baseball and then some

02/21/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak



One of the most popular sports movies of all time is Major League. So popular in fact, that one of it's characters spawned into a Major League Baseball pitcher. Charlie Sheen played "Wild Thing" Ricky Vaughn, who was a fast ball throwing pitcher with major league control problems. Mitch Williams was a hard throwing MLB relief pitcher who had some control issues of his own and who eventually became known as "Wild Thing".
Williams debuted in 1986 with the Texas Rangers. He played three seasons there before being traded to the Chicago Cubs, which is where the "Wild Thing" tag began in 1989. The film Major League came out that year, and Williams, who's unique wind up and release combined with his high velocity fastball and the wild pitches he threw regularly, led to the song "Wild Thing" by The Troggs being played at Wrigley Field when Williams was called from the bullpen. 1989 was also Williams finest in the big leagues, as he recorded 36 saves that season and made his only appearance in the All-Star game. Williams work on the field helped the Cubs reach the National League Championship Series that season as well.
Williams would be traded to Philadelphia prior to the 1991 season. It was there he further pushed the "Wild Thing" moniker by changing his uniform number to 99, the same number Ricky Vaughn wore in Major League. Although Williams said he chose the number not because of the movie, but he wore it in honor of former NFL player Mark Gastineau.

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Williams saved 30 games in his first season with the Phillies, but he is probably best known from his tenure in Philadelphia for what happened in the 1993 World Series. Williams blew a save opportunity in Game 2 (which led to death threats from the always classy Philadelphia fan base), but Game 7 is what Williams is probably best remembered for. With the Phillies leading 6 to 5 in the bottom of the 9th inning, Williams surrendered a 3-run, walk off home run to Joe Carter which led the Toronto Blue Jays to the World Series title. That pitch would be the last he would throw for the Phillies.
Williams was traded to Houston before the 1994 season. He then moved on to the California Angels before retiring in 1997 as a member of the Kansas City Royals. After retiring, he operating a bowling center in Philadelphia before returning to the mound one more time in 2001 for the Atlantic City Surf of the independent Atlantic League.
Williams most recently was an announcer on the MLB Network, before being terminated for an incident at a little league tournament in May of 2014. Williams was coaching a team in the tourney where he allegedly became belligerent with an umpire, shouted obscenities, and had one of the 10-year olds on his team intentionally throw a bean ball at another kid. Williams has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the MLB Network and a defamation lawsuit against Deadspin, which originally reported the little league incident.
Even after baseball, Mitch Williams still seems to be a "Wild Thing".

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