Steven John “Turk” Wendell very well may be the most beloved reliever in a Mets uniform that wasn’t a closer. Wendell was a middle reliever but however he always found himself in the middle of key situations as well as in the hearts of Mets fans.
Wendell was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1988 and made his Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1993. In 1997, the Mets traded away Lance Johnson and a Player To Be Named Later for Centerfielder Brian McRae and relievers Mel Rojas and Turk Wendell. The Mets later sent RHP Mark Clark to Chicago to complete the trade.
While with New York, Wendell donned the number 99 in honor of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn from the famous movie series “Major League’s” and he embodied the role as if he were auditioning for the next part.
In 2000, Wendell became a free agent however he took a unique approach to tending to his next contract. He signed his contract with the Mets for $9,999,99.99 which I can only chalk up to the man’s quirkiness. I mean, Turk wore a necklace of different animals he had hunted and always had the home plate umpire roll the ball to the mound. If the umpire would throw the ball to Wendell, he would let it hit him and bounce off of his chest. So yea, Turk’s an odd ball.
Turk spent part of seasons with the Mets sporting a 22-14 record with a 3.34 ERA over 312.2 innings. His numbers were what the Mets needed out of the bullpen but his attitude and aura is what the Mets fans desperately needed. When Turk stepped out to the mound, not only would we expect an above average outing, but we would also so look forward to Wendell’s routine and antics before he even tossed a pitch.
He was later traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with left handed reliever Dennis Cook for Minor Leaguer Adam Walker and the pitching left handed journeyman Bruce Chen on July 27th of 2001.
Turk Wendell will always be a favorite.