It’s been nine years since Joe Thaman played in his first World Series. His team didn’t win and he had the misfortune to be the last out to end the final game that sent them home, a strike out.
Most of you know that the PWL has only been around since 2005, and Thaman’s franchise, Superman’s Wheelchair has only been in the league since 2010. The World Series we’re talking about here isn’t the one the 15 PWL teams left in contention are fighting for.
This was the College World Series, a tournament annually featuring the eight best teams in NCAA baseball. And Thaman’s team wasn’t the Wheelchair, it was a small private university just north of South Bend, Indiana, called Notre Dame.
The victory he couldn’t deliver for his alma mater in Omaha, he would deliver eight years later for his friends at Gravelly Point.
Last season’s Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner, Thaman led Superman’s Wheelchair to their first wiffleball World Championship. Poised to become the second team in history to defend their title (Canvassers did it twice), Thaman has been almost unhittable this season. In addition to a 9-0 start for himself and a 10-0 start for his team, Thaman has pitched 70 consecutive innings without giving up a run. He’s on his second run at the perfect inning streak, currently at 14 after falling a half inning short of the record with a 19.5 streak earlier this season. He’s making a run at the Pitching Triple Crown, currently trailing only in ERA. With four perfect games this season to add to his one from last season he now is the all-time career leader.
He gets a little bitchy when you call him a one dimensional player though and don’t mention his hitting stats. He leads his team in batting average and RBI and since it takes him about three steps from the left handed batter’s box to be at first base he’s a tough out. He’s not putting up the same numbers at the plate that he did during his MVP run last season, but offense as a whole has been down this season, plus he had to leave something for his teammates to do on the field.
Wheelchair hasn’t lost a game they’ve actually played, regular or post-season, in 22 straight competitions. (They did forfeit two games last season.) If they win the next four, they become only the third team in league history (and first in the modern era) to have an undefeated regular season. Eight more and they’re getting a second plaque on the Commissioner’s Trophy. Thaman is a major key to that success and we’re not sure what, if anything, could slow him down at this point.
Well…maybe one thing. In addition to a new pitch he has working, it turns out his sperm works too. Thaman is about to become a father for the first time (that we know about). Brian Ford has been calling OB-GYN’s in the area in a long shot hope of getting the labor induced the day of the World Series. Maybe that would be enough to slow the south paw down, or at least let a Wheelchair opponent score a run.
Nickname: Chauffeur Joe
Hometown: Saint Louis, MO
Resides: Washington, DC – Columbia Heights
Employer: Metropolitan Life – For the ‘ifs’ in life
How did you find PWL?: A straight friend (I think he’s straight – doesn’t matter though – good guy) and teammate, Chris Keeven
Career Batting Avg: .518
Career HR: 13
Career ERA: 0.49
Career K: 188
Awards: Most Valuable Player (Su10), Cy Young Award (Su10), Player of the Week (7 nominations/1win)
TWIF: What is your favorite baseball team and who is your favorite baseball player of all time?
JT: Saint Louis Cardinals. A mix of Stan “The Man” Musial, Will “The Thrill” Clark, Mark “Gracie” Grace, and David “Perfect Game” Wells
TWIF: Who sucks more, the Cardinals, or the Fighting Irish?
JT: This doesn’t make any sense.
TWIF: What is your favorite thing about wiffleball?
JT: Winning and pretty much everything else… except the douche-baggery of some teams and players.
TWIF: Have you ever done anything under the bleachers you’re not proud of?
JT: I’ve never had to meet with that creepy, old guy under the bleachers before. That’s a pretty sick question, Chris. What have you done with him? Geez
TWIF: If a plane crashed on the field while landing, what team would you want it to take out and why?
JT: The Sex Panthers. I don’t know those guys, but I would never name my team after a men’s cologne. Sounds kinda… ya know… And then the white-framed sunglasses. Let’s get serious.
TWIF: Your team is the defending World Series Champions, you personally are the current Cy Young Winner, you’re off to a 9-0 start this season, have thrown four perfect games…things seem to be going well on the field. What’s going on with Joe the person, not Joe the ball player, and what is your biggest off field disappointment?
JT: Joe the person is much less a man than Joe the wiffleman. I’m average in every facet of life – an average worker; average talker; average hand-shaker; average friend; (soon to be average dad); average white guy. Wiffle truly lifts my spirits beyond what any religion could do and raises my confidence levels in other parts of my life. For example, I was talking trash on Monday morning (after my two perfect games, of course) to my sales manager because he wouldn’t get me a cup of coffee. Then I was like, “check out my games from Sunday, idiot!” and sent him the links to watch our wiffleball (is it one word or two) games from 5/15. The jerk still hasn’t gotten me my coffee, but we both know I deserve it. I’m really a changed guy.
My biggest disappointment – I’ll never forget it – In 2nd grade, I had just bough a pack of basketball cards (probably Topps – I’m a traditionalist). One of my “friends” wanted the rookie card of a guy from Louisiana State University named Shaquille O’Neal. I never heard of the guy. I asked him what he would give me. He went into this sales pitch about how this young shortstop named Pat Listach with the Brewers was about to become one of the truly great shortstops of our generation. I quickly shook his hand, made the trade, and told him how great of a friend he was. That was the first time I found out how the real world works.