Wood a fan favorite in roller coaster career

Wood a fan favorite in roller coaster career

Kerry Wood will take the mound one final time, before calling it a career. Wood captivated Cub fans with his historic 20-strikeout game, and would become one of the most beloved figures to ever play at Wrigley Field.

Kerry Wood captivated Cubs fans with each strikeout on that historic spring day in 1998. He would become one of the most beloved figures to ever wear Cubbie blue.

Those same fans who held 20 'K' signs in the Wrigley Field bleachers to celebrate Wood's dominating performance were there to greet him in the parking lot after each game during his 12 seasons with the Cubs.

Baseball fans who never met Wood felt as if he was family, in a way. He was, and long will be a Cub.

Wood burst onto the scene with what could be argued as the most dominating pitching performance in baseball history. He struck out 20 Houston Astros, allowing just one hit.

Since the 20-year-old's magnificent display, Cubs fans grew up with "Kid K," yet were able to relate with him every step of the journey.

However, Wood's 20-strikeout performance was just one of 86 wins. His career was riddled by injuries, preventing what could have been a historic career. Wood never approached his tremendous potential.

Wood's career is sadly symbolic of the logo he donned; it's one of baseball's ultimate "what-ifs." His career will be better known for what might have been than what happened.

During the many highs and lows of Wood's career, Cub fans were always in his corner. Wood was not only a favorite, he was their own. His 12 years with the Cubs organization bridged generation gaps of fans young and old.

When Wood was put to the free-agent market after the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he explored all options, but there wasn't a doubt he would end up back at Wrigley Field. Wood wanted the Cubs and the fans wanted him.

Wood will take the mound one final time before calling it a career. As he walks off for the final time, Cub fans will be standing and applauding, just as when they met Kid K.

Chris Emma has covered college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports since 2009. He covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs.
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