Most people remember where they were and what they were doing when life-altering events took place.  The same can be said for die hard Cubs fans when you ask them what they were doing on May 6, 1998.  That was the day of Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeout game.  Although it has been 20 years since 20-year-old Kerry Wood laid waste to one of the most feared lineups in the league, it still seems like yesterday.

In just his 5th career start, Wood pitched the greatest game of his life.  When all was said and done he had given up 1 hit, (that many argue was an error) no walks and struck out 20 Houston Astros hitters.  Wood only allowed two base runners all game and one of those was Craig Biggio who was hit by a pitch with a two-strike count.  By all accounts, Wood was dominant that chilly spring day.  He made players like Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Derek Bell, and Moises Alou look foolish in the batter’s box.  They simply could not hit the pitches that Wood was throwing.  His fastball was consistently in the upper 90s.  He coupled that with a nasty slider and a devastating curveball.  The division-leading Astros were simply outmatched.

That game can be looked at as both a blessing and a curse for Wood.  On the positive side of the ledger, Wood etched his name in the record books, setting the National League record and tying the major League record for strikeouts in a game.  He pitched, what many consider to be, the most dominant game in MLB history.  However, by doing this in just his fifth career start, Wood set the bar unrealistically high.  For the rest of his career, Kid K would be chasing the magic that he had on May 6th of 1998.  Also, Wood has mentioned in subsequent interviews that after the final strikeout, he felt a twinge in his elbow.  That would be a recurring theme throughout Wood’s career which saw him make 16 trips to the Disabled List.  Despite that, Wood has consistently said that he wouldn’t trade that May 6th game for anything in the world.   For one day, Kerry Wood was more than a man on the baseball field, and those of us that were lucky enough to see it, will never forget it.

 

 

photo from:  chicagosuntimes.com

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