7-time MLB All-Star Billy Wagner

A naturally right-handed boy from rural Virginia breaks his arm twice and becomes one of the greatest southpaw pitchers of all-time while throwing 100 mph.  This may sound like a movie script, but it was Billy Wagner's reality.  "For anybody who doesn't believe in God, I'm the epitome of a blessing...I don't know how I did it," Wagner told SV Sports' Paul Roberts at the Reading Hot Stovers banquet.  The undersized teenager was an All-State baseball player and football standout at Tazewell High School.  Wagner stayed in Virginia and attended Ferrum College.  He set a NCAA Division III record in 1992 by averaging an astonishing 19.1 strikeouts per 9 innings.  Over three seasons, Wagner piled up 327 punchouts in just 182 frames.  He went (17-3) with a 1.63 ERA.  The Astros selected the hard-throwing lefty with the 12th overall pick in the 1993 draft.  Wagner made his major league debut in 1995 and spent nine seasons with Houston before being traded to Philadelphia.  He also pitched for the Mets, Red Sox, and Braves.  Wagner's final year in Atlanta was one of the best of his career.  In 2010, he was (7-2) with a 1.43 ERA and 37 saves.  "I wanted to be with my family and my kids and be a dad," explained Wagner of his retirement.  The 7-time All-Star racked up 1,196 strikeouts in 903 innings over 16 seasons.  He finished fourth in the voting for the Cy Young Award in 1999 when he whiffed 124 batters in 74.2 frames with 39 saves.  Wagner has 422 career saves, sixth-most in MLB history, to go along with a 2.31 ERA.  On Tuesday, Wagner will find out if he's part of the 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame class.  That announcement will be made on MLB Network from Cooperstown.  "That's the pinnacle. It's one of the greatest moments in a player's life," said Wagner.  His son, Will, is playing in the minor leagues.  The 52-year-old likes the recent rule changes to speed up the game.  "It's fun to go to a game and not sit there for five hours," he joked.



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