"Wild Thing, I think I love you……But
I wanna know for sure" written by Chip Taylor and released
by "The Troggs" in 1966.
For some fans the jury is still out.
Sports Lore Editor
For some pitchers it is all in how you
throw. However, to stay pitching when major leagues
no longer call it is all in whom you know. Well that
and a nickname like "Wild Thing".
Mitch Steven Williams was born 11-17-1964,
and to all accounts was normal. Then he found baseball,
a fast pitch, and more often then not the strike zone.
Enough that baseball kept him gainfully employed for
almost ten seasons. From 1986 to 1988 he was a Texas
Ranger, and called Texas home for many years after that.
For 1989 and 1990 the Chicago Cubs, and their fans,
tried to figure his style out. One teammate, Calvin
Schiraldi, summed it up. He dubbed him the Wild Thing.
This was in reference to a character Charlie Sheen played
in the movie "Major Leagues". The difference was that
Mr. Sheen was playing a character, Mitch’s erratic pitching
made him a character.
Earl Weaver, the manager of the Baltimore
Orioles, once said, "Mitch is more dangerous then smoking".
Most batters that faced him agreed.
From 1990 to 1993 he was the Philadelphia
Phillies Reliever, and in part helped take them to the
World Series in 1993 against Toronto. Many remember
that it was he that threw the series losing home run
to Joe Carter. What many don’t remember he was coming
off his best season ever. For 1993 he had a 3.34 Earned
Run Average (ERA), and saved 43 games. Overall his lifetime
record is 192 saves with a 3.63 ERA. In fact from 1989
to 1993 he averaged 31 saves a year. Good enough for
the Houston Astros to give his pitches a chance in 1994.
In 1995 the California Angels signed him for a year.
It was in May 1997 that he retired from the sport he
loved as a Kansas City Royal. Mitch returned to his
Texas estate. It seemed he was out, but that did not
last very long.
He had met a girl from New Jersey and
gave her a different pitch. He got married, and the
ranch was sold. For awhile Mitch managed a café type
nightclub in a large popular bowling alley his father-in-law
owned. The father-in-law was a draw in his own rights
as a bowler. Mitch added to the attraction. At this
point most of the Philly fans of South Jersey had forgiven
the wild pitch that cost them a World Series. They had
learned it was exactly the pitch called for, and it
actually went where it was supposed to. Toronto’s batter
also figured out where it was going and sent it elsewhere.
That game was over.
However, there was more baseball in the
"Wild Thing’s" future. Of all things he was to be a
pitching coach. The Atlantic City Surf, part of an independent
league, needed an arm coach in 2001. Mitch was in the
area, and by the numbers he was a pretty good pitcher.
He also was a known name that people might come to the
park to see. As a coach Mitch knew one thing. Go with
the style that works for you: improve it, and don’t
let somebody change it. The philosophy worked and in
2002 he was promoted to manager of "The Surf".
It was in 2004 that a new arena beckoned
him. At a Phillies game Williams got to know Todd Moyer
marketing vice president for Trump Marina casino. In
less then a month the Wild Thing was pitching the "Marina’s
Wild Side of Atlantic City". He does this by promoting
the casino through verbal throws to high rollers, public
appearances, socializing, and whatever else it takes.
The only difference in the pitch in that instead of
trying to get a batter out, he is trying to get betters
Another difference is that he and his
wife now have five kids. So Mitch is not quite the shaggy
haired reliever he once was. These days he has the shorter
hair, the corporate look, but maintains the get the
job done attitude. Best of all, bad year or good year,
the "Wild Thing" will still sign autographs.
For that the jury is in and Wild Thing
is one of sports "Good Things".