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Not The Best But The Quirkest Number 99

Scott EisenlohrAnalyst ISeptember 23, 2009

Mitch Williams was probably not the best number 99, but had the most personality, and personally, is my favorite number 99.

All apologies to the most talented number 99, hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky.

Williams, a closer by trade, pitched for six major league teams, including the Cubs and Phillies. Former Cubs teammate and friend Mark Grace said that Williams pitched "like his hair was on fire."

It didn't hurt that he had a fast ball in the low 90s. It was not always accurate, however. Early in his career his number was 28, but he changed it to 99.

In his career, Williams saved 192 games from 1986 to 1997. His best year, by far, was the 1993 year with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Williams saved 43 games that year, with a 3-7 record and a 3.34 ERA. He caused indigestion to players and fans alike, as he sometimes walked the bases loaded then struck out the side.

The first I remembered Williams was when he was pitching with the Cubs. The Phillies loaded the bases on Opening Day in Chicago, then Williams struck out the side.

Some remember him for giving up the game-winning home run in Game Six of the 1993 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays' Joe Carter.

I would rather remember him jumping in the air for joy after striking out the Braves Bill Pecota to send the Phillies to their first World Series appearance in 10 years.

I would rather remember the late July morning, 4:41 a.m. to be exact, when "Mitchie Poo", as Phillies announcer Harry Kalas called him, singled home the winning run in a rain-delayed game.

I would rather remember him almost falling off the mound on his follow through, shown above, and Phillies then-ace Curt Schilling putting a towel over his head when Williams was closing.

Baseball officials say that left-handed pitchers are odd. Williams took odd to a new level.

Williams, who had a brief stint as the manager of the Atlantic City Surf, an independent baseball minor league team. I think I even remember him starting a game on a holiday, when the Surf ran out of pitchers.

Like a lucky rabbit foot, Williams has landed on his feet.

He is a baseball analyst for Comcastsportsnet in Philadelphia and an analyst for the new MLB network channel.

He was just fun to watch. Philadelphia, by in large, and myself, almost immediately, forgave him for giving up the Carter home run.

Heck, the Angels' Donny Moore shot himself in the head after giving up a game-winning home run.

Not Williams. Some call him a self-centered jerk.

I think he talks to fans on their level when talking baseball. No pretence of being someone special, just the facts.

He calls 'em as he see 'em.

Thanks, Mitchie Poo.

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