Children often have visions of becoming Major League Baseball players. For most, the dream is short lived and never becomes reality. For some though, the dream comes true and a life is changed forever.
Kerry Wood was drafted by the Chicago Cubs fourth overall in the first round of the 1995 MLB draft, he was 17 years old. Wood was drafted out of Grand Prairie High School in Irving, Texas. It must have been pretty exciting for a youngster who grew up in Texas knowing if he worked hard and put forth a solid effort he would pitch in Wrigley Field someday.
It didn’t take long for Wood to progress through the minor leagues and into the majors. On April 12, 1998, he made his Major League debut for the Cubs. Wood quickly announced his presence with authority. His fifth start came on May 6, 1998 against the Houston Astros. The weather was beginning to heat up in Chicago and so was Wood. The young man pitched a one-hit shutout against the Astros on a beautiful day at Wrigley. That was not the most impressive part though … Wood struck out 20 Astros hitters, which tied Roger Clemens for the most strikeouts in a nine-inning game. Oh yeah, he also broke Bill Gullickson’s single-game rookie record of 18 strikeouts. Many consider this to be the most dominating performance in Major League Baseball history.
Kerry Wood finished the 1998 season with a 13-6 record, led the Cubs to the postseason and won the National League Rookie of the Year award. Baseball fans all around the world took note of this man. He was an instant success in the city of Chicago and had a great career ahead of him. Then came 1999, which is when he realized he wasn’t superman. In spring training something didn’t feel right and it led to Tommy John surgery. He had torn his ulnar collateral ligament and missed the entire season. Do you think this guy was about give up?
During his 14 year career, Kerry Wood pitched for the Cubs (twice), the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees. The unfortunate part for Wood is the 16 stints he spent on the disabled list. Had he stayed healthy, he certainly would have won more than 86 games. At the time of his retirement he is second on the list of pitchers with the most strikeouts per nine innings. The guy could pitch.
During Wood’s career he had the pleasure of meeting and becoming close with Ron Santo. Santo was a legendary third-basemen with the Cubs and became the color analyst for Cubs games on WGN radio in Chicago until he passed away. If you are Cubs fan, you loved Ron Santo. As an announcer he cheered when the Cubs won a game and got upset when they lost. He never hid his feelings on the air.
During the winter of 2011 Kerry Wood signed a contract with the Cubs to come back in 2012 and pitch for the Cubs. The contract also stated he would have some kind of position with the Cubs following his retirement. It’s obvious when Kerry Wood met Ron Santo something clicked and changed in his world. He realized how supportive Cubs fan can be and how passionate they are about baseball. Kerry Wood loves this team, is an icon in Chicago and did not want his career to end when he retired. He wants to be a part of the Cubs. That says something about his love for city and the organization.
Kerry Wood has a foundation in Chicago that is second-to-none. The Wood Family Foundation was founded in June 2011 by Kerry Wood and his wife, Sarah. It is a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of children in and around Chicago. The foundation raises funds and awareness for children’s charities and acts as an advocate for children in the Chicago community. They inspire others to join them in their mission of the giving children the resources they need to succeed.
Kerry Wood may have closed one chapter in his life but is about to start a new one that involves what he loves. He will get to spend more time with his family, work more with his foundation and still be a part of the Chicago Cubs family. The Good in Sports congratulates Kerry on a great career and wishes him the best of luck in his new endeavors.
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