For Cubs fans, 25 years has only made us appreciate Kerry Wood's 20K game more

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Every May, on or around the anniversary, I inevitably re-watch history. I'm talking, of course, about Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game which is considered, by many, to be the best-pitched game in MLB history. The Cubs rookie right-hander carved up a loaded Houston Astros lineup on a damp day with far more empty seats than fans in them at Wrigley Field.

Cubs: 25 years later, Kerry Wood and his 20-strikeout game live on

Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of his dominant start, one which tied the Major League record, held by Roger Clemens, who accomplished the feat in 1986 and 1996, becoming the first and second pitcher to do it. Next up? None other than Kid K himself, who idolized Clemens as a young man.

Just how good was Wood's stuff that day? Here's what Brad Ausmus, who was in the opposing dugout for Clemens' second 20K effort and in the lineup against the Cubs fireballer in 1998, found himself thinking early on.

" I remember thinking in the dugout, ‘Clemens struck out 20. I'm afraid this guy might strike out 27.'""

Brad Ausmus, via

Wood made it look so effortless. Anyone who's watched that game sees the easy velocity on his overpowering fastball and his slider looked more like a frisbee than a baseball that day. We're talking about a Houston team that won 102 games that year and featured a loaded lineup that boasted two future Hall of Famers in Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, along with guys like Moises Alou and Derek Bell.

That afternoon was the culmination of years of hype, since Chicago selected Wood in the first round of the 1995 MLB Draft. Of course, doing something like this in the fifth start of your rookie campaign leads to wholly unrealistic expectations, something Cubs fans had for Wood the rest of his career.

" It definitely was a defining moment. For me, it showed me that I belonged here, it's not a fluke that I'm here, I deserve to be here. I can compete at this level. It set the bar for the rest of my career, the rest of my outings after that."

Kerry Wood, via

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Since Wood made history, more pitchers have matched the record: Randy Johnson in 2001 and Max Scherzer in 2016. Still, when folks - Cubs fans or not - think about a single 20-strikeout start, none loom larger, even a quarter-century later, than Wood dominating the Astros in early May back in 1998.