At Home With David & Nina Wells
Posted May 12, 2014
Don’t let the 12,000-square-foot estate in Fairbanks Ranch fool you. David “Boomer” Wells is about as open and unassuming as it gets. The Major League Baseball veteran, who as a New York Yankee pitched the 15th perfect game in baseball history, insists he is still “the same guy I was when I grew up in Ocean Beach.” There, Boomer’s upbringing was anything but conventional — his mom dated a Hell’s Angel and their weekend parties, he remembers, “were pretty classic.” When the motorcycle gang attended his baseball games, “I’d con them into giving me 25 cents a strikeout,” says Wells. “So I had money in my pocket.” Inspired by Babe Ruth, the lefty went on to a colorful big league career that spanned more than 20 years and led to a book entitled: Perfect I’m Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball.
“He’s the guy’s guy of all guys,” says Nina, his wife of 20 years, a former runway model who is president of Diamond Estates Realty, and a partner in Players First National, a global real estate agency for professional athletes. You could also call her a “guy’s girl,” having learned to golf, hunt, and fish, among other outdoor pursuits, in order to spend time with David and their two sons, Brandon Miles and Lars Van. “I realized there were things I’d better learn,” she says, “if I ever wanted to hang out with my husband and boys.”
Nina is as approachable as her husband, and just like him, enjoys a bit of fun. Recently, she and her friends dressed up as cast members from the TV reality series Duck Dynasty to raise money for the Rancho Santa Fe Community Center. The tall, attractive blonde was unrecognizable in a baseball cap, hunting gear, and a full, albeit faux, beard.
Now that David is retired and their kids nearly grown, the Wellses are looking to downsize. Featured recently on HGTV’s Scoring the Deal, which highlights the homes of pro athletes, the Wellses’ two-acre spread has some impressive statistics: five bedrooms, garages for eight cars, a resort-style pool with waterfalls and swim-up bars, an outdoor living room and kitchen, wine cellar, and elevator. A detached “entertainment casita” has an exercise room, sauna, movie theatre, and two guest suites. There’s even a horseshoe pit.
David’s favorite place in the house is what Nina dubs the “Hard Rock Cafe,” a billiard room with a bar and game arcade. Rock music memorabilia covers the walls, including many of the 100 guitars David has collected over the years. (Nina gave her husband his first guitar, signed by Eddie Van Halen.) While David doesn’t play an instrument, music has been a major influence, helping him cope with, even capitalize on, the pressures of baseball. Known for blasting Metallica in the Yankees locker room before a game, David says, “It fired me up, got me deep into the zone. To me, music is everything.” No surprise, then, that David named his oldest son Brandon Miles after jazz musician Miles Davis and younger son Lars Van after Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Both sons are now musicians themselves.
Another intriguing part of the house is the trophy room, filled with game, from an Alaskan brown bear to an African wildebeest. The Wellses co-own Buck Falls Ranch, a 1,300-acre hunting retreat in Northern Michigan, with Kirk Gibson and Jake Peavy. The former teammates enjoy the outdoors and hunt for whitetail deer with bows and arrows, what they call the “World Series of Archery.” The partners manage the herd, and eat what they shoot. David likes to barbecue venison in the backyard, and venison tacos are in the fridge.
David, still very much involved with baseball, threw out the ceremonial first pitch (along with Brian Giles and Mark Loretta) on Opening Day at Petco Park, and was a guest instructor with other MLB veterans at the Yankees’ spring training camp. He is especially passionate about coaching young players, volunteering much of his time with the baseball program at his alma mater, Point Loma High School, where the baseball field bears his name. An avid golfer, David won $50,000 last year for Rady Children’s Hospital in the Ace Hardware Celebrity Golf Shootout. Over the years, the Wells family has raised funds for research into diabetes, a disease that affected David’s mother and brother, and now, David himself. “If you can give back,” says the man who blanked the Minnesota Twins in his 1998 perfect game, “it’s a home run.” Andrea Naversen
Photography by Vincent Knakal