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Top Five Kerry Wood Cub Moments: Fan Opinion

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Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood recently attended the ground-breaking ceremony for a new high-school baseball complex named after him in Chicago. Early in 2012, the Cubs said good-bye to one of the most beloved Cubs in recent times when he retired from baseball. Wood retired with a record of 86-75, 3.67 ERA, and 63 saves. He also struck out 1582 hitters. As a Cub, Wood was 80-68, 3.67 ERA, 35 saves, and 1470 strikeouts. Here are five great moments from Kerry Wood in a Cubs' uniform.

Honorable mention: 2003 NLCS home run

I would put Wood's 2003 NLCS Game 7 home run in the top five, but Wood allowed seven runs and lost to the Florida Marlins. His home run tied the game at 3-3, and the Cubs soon after took the lead. Wood then allowed four more runs, and the Cubs could not come back.

#5 - Return to Cubs, 2011

On January 13, 2011, Cubs' radio broadcaster Pat Hughes announced the return of Wood to the Cubs during the annual Cubs Convention. Wood signed with the Cleveland Indians before the 2009 season, ending his long run with the Cubs. Wood then went to the New York Yankees in mid-2010 before returning to Wrigley Field. He received a rousing ovation upon Hughes' reintroduction of him to the fans.

#4 - Division-clinching save, 2008

In his only season as the Cubs' full-time closer, Kerry Wood saved 34 games with a 3.26 ERA in 2008. He struck out 84 hitters in 66.1 innings. His most important save, though, came against the rivaled St. Louis Cardinals on September 20. When he got Aaron Miles to fly to center, he picked up the save that clinched the Cubs' second-straight N.L. Central title. It is too bad that the postseason did not turn out as well.

#3 - Ties Cubs' consecutive strikeout record

It took three appearances, but Wood tied a Cubs' record by striking out eight consecutive hitters. The record-tying strikeouts occurred against the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals, ending on August 11, 2011. He tied the record for Cubs' relievers in the low-mound era that began in 1969.

#2 - Last batter faced, 2012

On May 18, 2012, Wood faced his final Major League hitter. He struck out Dayan Viciedo of the Chicago White Sox, the only batter he faced. The strikeout ended a 14-year career (not counting missing 1999) during which Wood pitched in 12 seasons for the Cubs. His best season was 2003, when he went 14-11 with a 3.20 ERA and led the National League with 266 strikeouts.

#1 - 20 strikeouts

On May 6, 1998, rookie Kerry Wood tied the Major League record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game when he struck out 20 Houston Astros. The 20-year-old pitcher allowed one hit and walked none in throwing his first Major League complete game and shutout. Wood went on to win the 1998 National League Rookie of the Year.

Without the slew of injuries that frequently interrupted and eventually shortened his career, I can only imagine how many more games Kerry Wood could have won and how many more hitters he could have struck out. When he did pitch, though, he was highly successful. I expect to see the Cubs retire his #34 before too long.

Sources:

Baseball Reference, 2003 NLCS Game 7 Box Score, baseball-reference.com.

Baseball Reference, Kerry Wood Player Page, baseball-reference.com.

Major League Baseball, Kerry Wood Video Highlights (Linked Above), mlb.mlb.com.

Vinnie Duber, Wood Proud to Attend Groundbreaking of New Field, cubs.mlb.com, October 11, 2012.

Raymond grew up in Florida and began watching the Cubs on WGN in 1982. He became a fan in 1984 when Ryne Sandberg hit the two famous game-tying home runs off Cardinals closer and former Cub Bruce Sutter. Raymond then solidified his team loyalty when the Cubs won the division later that season and has been a fan ever since. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau.

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