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October 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs former player

Kerry Wood

throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the Cubs play against the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Kerry Wood, 1998

13-6, 3.40 ERA, 233 SO

May 6, 1998, may have seen the greatest pitching performance of all time. On that day, 20-year-old Kerry Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros.

He followed up that amazing performance by striking out 13 Arizona Diamondbacks on May 11. For the rest of the season, “Kid K” kept hitters swinging and missing with the combination of a blazing fastball and devastating off-speed curve.

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As was the case in 1989, the Cubs rode their ROY to a playoff berth–and it was probably due in large part to the Cubs’ season-long success that Wood took home the award instead of Colorado rookie Todd Helton, who had a pretty special year in his own right.

The Cubs were ousted in the playoffs by the Atlanta Braves. But fans had seen enough from the young gun to expect some amazing things in future seasons.

And then spring training 1999 happened, and Cubs fans got a look at the other side of Kerry Wood: the injury side. Wood missed the entire 1999 season due to Tommy John surgery.

The rest of his career would offer similar glimpses of greatness and injuries. He averaged 10.3 strikeouts/9 innings through his career while visiting the disabled list 14 times in 13 seasons.

Cubs fans have great on-field memories of Kerry Wood. They also have great imaginings of what could have been had he been able to stay healthy.

Fortunately, Cubs fans have lots of great off-field memories of Kerry Wood, too, as he was heavily involved in the local community as a player and remain so in retirement.