It took seven years to collect over 200 saves in his career, but one of those years didn’t count according to Billy Wagner. The 2001 Season was a complete wash for Wagner. He appeared in ten games, but didn’t record a single save. But on Friday September 5th, 2003 “Billy the Kid” took the all time saves lead, and like an old western film – headed off into the sunset with it.

“Billy the Kid” as he is known in the Windy City has been a fixture for the Mobsters since he was drafted back in the Iowa Baseball Confederacy in 1994. Wagner has been a Mobsters since day one of his professional career.  General Manager of the Chicago Mobsters John “Stray” Corrado said “Everything he’s done, has been in a Mobsters uniform.  Wagner is and always will be a very important part of this organization. He’s been our closer here in the Mid-West Baseball League since the leagues inception in 1997”.

Wagner who stands 5-11, with a 195-pound frame has always been a source for teasing, leaving his powerful arm to gain him respect among teammates. “I’m impressed with Billy because I’m afraid my kids might not grow up to be as big as me,” long time teammate and Mobster Chipper Jones joked. “So when I look at Billy size, I think that might be a good thing to turn out small”   Wagner was thrilled with the fact that he now has the MWBL all time saves lead. “I didn’t feel any pressure to get this record. I feel like I just went out there and tried to get the guys out in the ninth inning. Simple as that,” Wagner said. “It was unbelievable event for me and the Mid-West Baseball League”.


Billy Wagner 200
Mariano Rivera 198
Trevor Hoffman 190
Troy Percival 190
Robb Nen 190

1997 Wagner recorded 24 saves in his debut season in the Mid-West Baseball League. It was well behind the Leagues top save man that year Trevor Hoffman, who recorded 40, but Wagner still had a solid year. He pitched 47 Innings, won 4 games, and lost 3, while recording 24 saves, 40 strikeouts, and finished the year with an amazing 2.11 ERA.

1998 Turned out to be another solid performance from the left handed fireballer. Wagner was solid all year, and ended up winning his first of four Rolaids Relief Man Awards. He pitched fewer innings than the previous season only getting 34, but his saves jumped up, finishing the year with 31 to lead the American League, but once again fell short of Trevor Hoffman’s Mid-West Baseball League mark of 40.

1999 was a disappointing year for Wagner, and his team. The Mobsters finished the year with only 81 wins, a far cry from Billy’s first two seasons with the Mobsters, where the team won 88, and 93 games. Wagner saw his ERA rise to 3.53, and his saves fall back into the mid twenty’s, finishing the year with only 25. Wagner vowed his 2000 numbers would improve, and did his best to make that come true.

2000 was Billy Wagner’s finest year. Though he didn’t lead the Mid-West Baseball League in saves, he did finish off the year with his fist 40+ save year, notching exactly 40. He finished second in saves to Mariano Rivera, who complied 42. Wagner finished with a 1.51 ERA, finishing second again to Mariano Rivera (1.41). But what topped Wagner’s year over Rivera’s, was his 11 wins. He topped Rivera in wins by 6, and that was enough to bring home the hardware and his second Rolaids Relief Man Award. Billy also pitched in his first All-Star game in 2000, and struck out the first ever batter he faced in All-Star competition.

Warming up for a Wild Card Playoff Game in 2000, Wagner felt a twinge in his left elbow. He tried to rest the arm the following winter, but pitched ineffectively in 2001, missing most of the season with what had been diagnosed as tendonitis, and turned into a full-blown ligament tear. He watched helplessly as his Mobsters finished that year at 107-55. That 2001 season, while he was injured the Chicago Mobsters, turned to “Roller Coaster” – Todd Jones, who recorded 29, saves. One has to wonder how many of those saves Wagner might have seen, and what his numbers would be like today, if he hadn’t have gotten injured.

Wagner returned to the bull pen and the closers role in 2002 and rediscovered his twentieth-century form as the Mobsters rebounded to the top ranks of the American League, with a 109-53 record. Much thanks to the 100 mph cheese from Billy the Kid, who once again was a feared closer who challenged hitters with his explosive fastball. He did use his curve more, and he developed a slider that was highly effective, though he still didn’t use it often enough as management would have liked. Wagner did a better job of working both sides of the plate in 2002 with his fastball, and his 65 strikeouts were his most since his career-high 77 whiffs in 2000. Wagner topped the 40 save mark for the second time in his career with 40, and for the first time in his career, he led the entire MWBL In saves. His 1.55 ERA nearly matched that of his best season in 2000 (1.51) and Wagner once again took home the Rolaids Relief Man Award, a much deserving honor, and the third of his career.

2003 Brought some new arms to the top of the mound for the Mobsters, With Octavio Dotel, Armando Benitez, & Ray King leading the way they have as Wagner’s setup men, Wagner once again topped 40+ saves, and was on his way to being named the American leagues Rolaids Relief man for the fourth time in his career, and his second consecutive.  The Mobsters have no plans to move “Billy the Kid”, “He’s one of our untouchables.  I don’t see anyone offering me enough to trade Billy.  He’s family here”.  Billy Wagner, who will ride off into the sunset in Windy City will start 2004 in a Mobster uniform for the 10th straight year in Chicago.

WEDNESDAY 07/24/2024
AT 11:59 PM - ET!