I must admit that I’ve always scoffed at Kerry Wood — especially when he came to the big boy league. However, when he was traded to the New York Yankees and I pulled the above card, I simply had to write about him.
In baseball, there are revered names — one of the biggest in George Herman Ruth – otherwise known as the Babe and a litany of other sandlot nicknames. Outside of boozing and chasing skirts, if you are linked to the Babe you are linked to baseball immortality. Quite simply, legends never die.
Anyway, it was shocking to me that, in the history of baseball, Wood and Ruth are the only two players with at least 1,200 innings while allowing fewer than 1,000 hits. Of course, like Wood’s career, all good things must come to an end. If you look at the card closely, you’ll realize that Wood finished the 2009 season with 995 hits allowed. And sure enough, he allowed a few more hits this year to inch over the 1,000 threshold to give the Babe back another solo record.
Regardless, Wood was a real good pitcher for a few years – the heir apparent to Roger Clemens who was the heir apparent to Nolan Ryan. In three of his first five healthy seasons in the majors, Wood had a K/9 rate in double digits. In the 2002 and 2003 seasons, Wood would post a 3.34 ERA, 483 Ks and a 1.22 WHIP. Not bad.
Will his career resemble a glorified Kelvim Escobar? Sort of – but so what. For a couple of years he was absolutely unhittable and he happened to share a record with one of the most hallowed names in all of sports.
For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.