20Ks 10 Years AgoOne decade later, I still get chills thinking about Kerry Wood's 20 strikeout performance against the Houston Astros on May 6, 1998. I also feel incredibly sad to think that he never truly reached his potential. So much hope and promise once rested on his shoulders, but it never came to fruition. Injury after injury plagued his career. Little did anyone realize his elbow was detaching during this outing. Still, I enjoy thinking back to that rainy day at Wrigley Field.
Oddly enough, most Cubs fans did not see this performance live. Of course it was a day game at Wrigley Field so most people were at work, but the game was not broadcast on WGN-TV. This game was one of the first broadcasts on CLTV. Back in 1998, CLTV was not available as a standard cable station throughout greater metropolitan Chicago. The game was rebroadcast on WGN-TV the very next day.
On May 6, 1998, I was working at the Elmhurst Park District. In fact, that day our foundation was hosting the Sugar Creek Open, the annual golf outing that raised funds for the park district. I did not play that day, but I was working contest holes, selling raffle tickets, and so on. I remember the rain was heavy that morning and drizzling at the start of our event, but not enough to cancel the outing. Someone on the foundation board realized that she did not tip the pizza delivery guy, so I volunteered to run the cash over to Edwardo's Natural Pizza on Route 83. When I jumped in my car, I turned my radio to 720AM. I thought Pat Hughes and Ron Santo were exploding. At that point, Wood already had five strikeouts. Throughout the outing, I kept making trips to my car just to catch the strikeout total.
At the end of the game, Wood tied a Major League record that Roger Clemens reached twice in his career. Eventually, Wood would land on the disabled list and not pitch until the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves later that season.
It looked like he was finally going to redeem his career in 2003, but as everyone knows, we lost to the Marlins during the National League Championship Series. Now Kerry Wood is a member of the bullpen and is struggling as a closer. Even though it's faded, I still wear my "Kerry Wood 20K" t-shirt to the gym.
Here are the ESPN highlights.