I chatted with ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian about Kerry Wood, his lasting legacy with Chicago Cubs fans and whether or not he’ll see his number retired.
This month carries a lot of significance for former Chicago Cubs hurler Kerry Wood. On May 6, 1998, the fireballing right-hander tied a major league record, striking out 20 Houston Astros hitters in front of a sparse crowd at Wrigley Field. Some 14 years later, Wood stepped off the mound at the Friendly Confines for the final time after striking out Dayan Viciedo as his young son came tearing out of the dugout, leaping into his arms.
To this day, Wood remains one of the most beloved Cubs of all-time. For many, he ranks up with the likes of the franchise’s iconic Hall of Famers, including Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and ‘Mr. Cub’ himself, Ernie Banks. It’s amazing, really. We’re talking about a guy who, despite his historic performance in his rookie year and playing a critical role in the success of the 2003 club, never enjoyed much sustained success.
I sat down with ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian to talk about why Wood still has a stranglehold on the hearts of Cubs fans even to this day.
“He stays so high in the ‘legend’ category because he got hurt,” he said. “He didn’t do this to himself. He just had that kind of delivery that kind of lent itself to maybe getting hurt. It would be one thing if he threw his career away, but he didn’t.”
Unfortunately, injuries were the name of the game for Wood. He hit the disabled list 14 times in his career – and missed the entire 1999 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In the Cubs Productions documentary on his iconic 20-strikeout game, Wood admits the first time he felt something ‘wrong’ was when he pumped his fist after notching his final punchout in that start.