One of my faults (of which I admit there are very few :)) is that I’m ridiculously sentimental!!
Even as a fan of the St Louis Cardinals I couldn’t help but be moved when I saw the footage Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood throwing his last pitch (a strikeout) in the Majors, back on 18th May this year!
When he left the field for the final time he was afforded a huge standing ovation by the fans at Wrigley Field and was met by his young son who ran out onto the field to greet him before he reached the dugout.
Stuff to melt the hardest of hearts!!
Wood was drafted by the Cubs in 1995 and made his MLB debut in 1998. He achieved notoriety in only his fifth career start on 6th May 1998 when he threw a one-hit, no walk shutout while at the same time striking out 20 batters against the Astros, equalling a record set by Roger Clemens for Ks in a nine inning game. That same year he went on to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.
He sat out the whole of the 1999 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and then returned in 2000 where he continued his career with the Cubs until 2008 when, after years of being blighted by a variety of injuries, it was announced that the Cubs would not re-sign him during the off-season.
Wood was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 2008 and was eventually traded to the Yankees in July 2010.
When the Yankees declined to exercise their option for Wood in 2011 he eventually went on to re-sign with the Chicago Cubs where he remained until his final appearance this year.
During his 13 year MLB career Wood visited the DL 16 times. Along with his 20 K haul in 1998 he made two All-Star appearances and is the fastest pitcher to reach 1000 strikeouts in innings pitches (853) and appearances (134 games).
From his injury-plagued career Wood doesn’t leave just the legacy of his 20 strikeout game, but he also serves (along with his former team mate Mark Prior) as a cautionary tale to other teams as to how they should better handle their young starters early in their careers.