An Ode to Kerry Wood

If you were to catch a Cubs Game at Wrigley Field sometime in 1998 or sometime between 2000 and 2008 or sometime between 2010 and 2012, chances are that you had the opportunity to catch the amazing Kerry Wood doing what he does best: pitching. Nicknamed Kid K (a play on his first name and the letter used to statistically denote a strikeout), Kerry Wood was a force to be reckoned with. His renown as an adept pitcher would often cause crowds of fans to launch into boisterous chants of “Kerry, Kerry, Kerry”. In some games, you could even see fans expectantly counting Kerry’s strikeouts with big “K” cards.

Kerry Wood "K" signs - Daily Herald

Daily Herald

It all started when in a 1998 game against the Houston Astros. It was a rainy, drizzly day. For the Astros, it must have felt a heck of a lot rainier. Kerry pitched a 20-strikeout game, with no walks. The Astros only got one hit in the whole freaking game. And this was Wood’s fifth MLB start. To this day, Wood’s 20-strikeout performance is unprecedented (barring the Roger Clemens’ record). As the saying goes, the candle that burns twice as bright, burns out twice as quickly. In August of that same year, Wood was on the disabled list with elbow trouble.

Still, Kerry Wood’s performance against the Astros and other teams was more than enough to earn him the title of National League Rookie of the Year.

The Chicago Cubs' Kerry Wood leaves the field pumped up after getting out of a jam in the 12th inning against the Brewers.

Daily Herald

In 2000, Wood returned to active duty. In his first game back, fate put him once again against the Astros. Wood didn’t disappoint. He managed to hit a two-run homer and pitch 6 great innings. Unfortunately, the year-plus on the bench had taken a toll on his form. He did alright, but it definitely was not nearly as head-turning as his 1998 season.

2001 was a rough year for Kerry, but a good year for the Cubs. Then, 2002 was a good year for Kerry, but a rough year for the Cubs. In 2003, both entities seemed to be aligned. On top of having a great season, Kerry managed to get the Cubs to the National League Championship Series. But in Game Seven, Wood fell into a downward spiral. It seemed that everything he threw was getting hit to the outfield. The loss wasn’t entirely his fault, but he definitely took a lot of blame on his shoulders, something that has endeared him to a lot of Cubs fans to this day.

Kerry Wood - MyCubsToday.com

MyCubsToday.com

He stayed with the Cubs till 2008, after which point he moved onto the Cleveland Indians and eventually the Yankees. He then came back in 2011-2012 with the promise of being a Cubs for life. Although he never re-achieved his 1998 glory. Kerry Wood stands out as a great pitcher and a die-hard Cubbie, among the ranks of Ernie Banks, Aaron Aronson, and (despite his unpopularity after the doping scandal) Sammy Sosa.

Tony Angiuli