When Turk Wendell walked into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday afternoon, he wasn’t chewing licorice or brushing his teeth.
Wendell refrained from the superstitions that he practiced throughout his time as a relief pitcher in the big leagues. The 11-year big league veteran made the trip from Colorado to Cooperstown with his family to watch his kids play at a local baseball camp and added a visit to the Hall of Fame to the agenda.
Wendell and his family were given a tour of the Giamatti Research Center, where staff members brought out his personal file. While his family was treated to archived pictures and articles, Wendell reminisced about his playing days and talked about his unconventional style.
The stare-down was an art Wendell said he lived to perfect when he was on the hill.
“I tell my kids, you’ve got to be tough, aggressive and mean on the mound,” Wendell said. “You can laugh and go out to dinner with a guy after the game. But when you’re on that mound, it should be nothing but business.”
Before Wendell developed that stare-down, he grew up in Massachusetts, where he was a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. Wendell then made his Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs.
“I had the worst of both worlds,” Wendell joked. “I rooted for the Red Sox and played for the Cubs.”
Wendell’s in-game ritual gained notoriety early on with the Cubs. It involved throwing the rosin bag as hard has he could at the mound, chewing four pieces of Brach’s black licorice, hurtling over the baselines at the end of an inning and rigorously brushing his teeth on the bench.
So would he ever consider donating one of his artifacts to the Hall of Fame?
Wendell cracked a smile when talking about the idea and admitted the old tooth brushes were probably still at the one place where everything is saved – his mom’s house.
Connor O’Gara is the 2012 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development