Friday, May 18, 2012

Wood Retires

Photo Courtesy: Chicago Tribune
Reluctantly Chicago Cub fans have fond memories of their favorite players in the blue and while pinstripes. Those memories replace what many other fan bases have - visions of World Series being won. Santo, Williams, Banks and Sandberg are among the few who Cub fans adore, yet all of their memories lack those players hoisting a World Series trophy above their head. Today, one more Cub favorite, Kerry Wood bowed out graciously from the Friendly Confines.

In front of an all-Chicago crowd as the White Sox began interleague play on Chicago's North Side, Kerry Wood went to the mound in relief to throw three pitches, all strikes, and leave the field with one last strikeout. He then left crossed the third base line, and headed towards the home team dugout only to be met by his son and a standing ovation of fans from both teams.

Wood will always be a Cub favorite. In his fifth start for the Cubs, Kerry Wood struck out twenty Houston batters - a game I remember watching at home with my Dad, one of our last together in his living room. With every pitch, every strike I became captivated and the look on my Dad's face was priceless as the team he cheered for his whole life was doing something he had never seen before. And when the last Astro batter was retired on strikes we looked at each other happy for the accomplishment, and excited to have shared it together.

As Wood's Cubs years went by, the success that many had hoped for didn't necessarily occur. He was traded to Cleveland and acquired by the New York Yankees, but Cubs fans always kept an eye on what #34 was doing. Then one off-season Wood had a brief discussion with then General Manager Jim Hendry to get a deal done to bring him home. It may not have been the money he could've acquired elsewhere, but it was important for him to pitch for the Cubbies, in whatever role they could use him. Whether it was closer or long-relief, he wasn't afraid to take the ball, and wasn't afraid to meet the media if the results weren't what the Cubs fans were looking for. 2012 was tough for Chicago fans to watch, and tougher for Wood. He realized it was time to retire. News broke prior to the first game in the Cubs - White Sox Crosstown Classic, and Wood wanted one more time to come in from the bullpen. Three pitches, three strikes and one K, the only way Kerry could end his Chicago Cubs career.

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