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- [Chip Caray] We have a treat for you today. Youngster from Texas will take the mound.
He is Kerry Wood.
- [Pat] His name starts with a K, and you're going to see a lot of Ks
in the score book.
- [Jim Riggleman] Everybody was just in awe of what they were watching.
- [David Kaplan] "You've got to turn this game on." Because we were seeing history.
- [Pat] I'm just happy that I got to see it.
- [Chip Caray] The 0-2. Got it. He's tied the record.
- Those of you lucky enough to have witnessed this have seen something
you might not see again.
♪ [music] ♪
- [Chip Caray] As Chicago natives would say, it was a typically beautiful early
May day. It was cloudy. It was gray. It was misty. It was raw.
- [Brian Garza] It was a weekday game in May, so you're not expecting a huge crowd
inside the ballpark.
- [Joe Mantegna] And in a way it's perfect that it was only about 15,000 people and it was kind
of a rainy day. It was like, this is hardcore Cub fan day.
We went out on the field before the game. Because of bleacher bums,
I got to know some of the Cubs pretty well, like Santo, like Billy Williams.
Some of...especially the old guard. And Billy was out there. He said to me,
he says, "Well, you'd better watch this young boy pitching today, this Kerry Wood.
He's something. He's got some fire today."
- [Chip Caray] Big day today. The gunslinger Kerry Wood takes the mound.
- [Carrie Muskat] First round pick, hard-throwing kid. There was always hype
every time Woody would start.
- [Ron Santo] Been around baseball a long time, and haven't seen a kid like this come
up to the big leagues.
- [Terry Adams] We were struggling a little bit and needed a guy, and they brought him up.
- [Broadcaster] Three-two pitch. Struck him out.
- [Terry Adams] Of course, you know, everybody was keeping tabs on this,
game-to-game basis.
- If you did have butterflies, you didn't show it outwardly.
- [Kerry Wood] I guess I pitch a little better on nerves, I guess. The media attention,
as a 20-year-old, it was uncomfortable. I mean, my comfort zone was on the field
and on the mound. So it was a little bit overwhelming.
- [Caray] I think that when a young guy comes up, you wonder, "Okay, just how good is
his stuff?" And hitters usually tell you pretty quickly how good his stuff is.
- [Broadcaster] His dad schooled him to be like Nolan Ryan in the leg kick and that whole thing,
and he's followed Roger Clemens as well.
- [Jim Deshaies] The whole Texas angle. But no one...Clemens had been pitching
against the Astros. It was, like, a storybook kind of theme.
- [Caray] Houston leading the Central Division with a record of 20 and 11.
Here is Larry Dierker starting lineup.
- These were the killer bees. I mean, this was a team that
everybody heard about.
- [David Kaplan] He's got to face Bagwell, and Biggio, and Derek Bell,
and that team is loaded.
- [Broadcaster] And they can hit. They can hit for power. They can run.
The Houston Astros probably are the toughest task for any starting pitcher.
- [Wood] I knew who they were, for sure. I just didn't know what that lineup
together was capable of doing, which was probably a good thing.
- [Broadcaster] Last night they ran at will. Today may be a different story.
Sandy Martinez in the lineup today.
- [Caray] He's one of the great trivia questions of all time. Who was the catcher that
caught Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game? It wasn't Scott Servais,
but it was Sandy Martinez.
- [Kevin Orie] Anything, coming off the bench in baseball is probably the hardest thing,
I think, in any sport, to do.
- [Wood] I was the young guy. He was, you know, the backup catcher. Our starting catcher
probably got the top of the rotation guy.
- [Kaplan] Usually you're looking for chemistry with your battery mate,
and they think alike, and, "Hey, we've got to face this guy,
and we both know how we're going to get him out." They had never really done
anything like that.
- [Wood] Got out to the bullpen and started warming up for the game,
and I don't think I threw one strike in my 40-something warm-up pitches.
I grabbed the ball, and then turned to Phil Regan and flipped him the ball
and said, "I mean, it can't get any worse."
- [Caray] Jerry Meals, the home plate umpire, he may be a key man in this ball game
for Kerry Wood. You talked about that a bit last night.
- [Steve Stone] Well, I think it really depends on just exactly what strike zone Kerry Wood is
going to get.
- [Wood] I'd warmed up, like I said before, and didn't throw any strikes.
And I figured I wasn't going to lay one in there. Just threw it as hard as I could.
- [Caray] And the first pitch.
- [Stone] That knocked the mask right off the head of Jerry Meals.
- Sandy just misses it. - [Caray] Wow. That is some heat, folks.
- [Jerry Meals] I was like, "What just happened?" You know,
I was running through my head at the time, "What happened yesterday?
Did something happen on the field that the Cubs are upset with me or something?"
You know, I'm running it through my mind, "Do I need to run this guy?"
- [Wood] I don't think Meals was looking for, you know, 98 off the face on the first
pitch of the game. It kind of caught everybody off-guard.
- [Deshaies] Oh, that is not going to endear Sandy Martinez to Jerry Meals. What a start.
- [Billy Williams] The ball went all the way to the backstop. That ball went all the way
to the backstop. And I said, "Man, he's throwing hard today."
- [Caray] Two strikes. Got him with the heat.
- [Stone] And Biggio swinging way late, and that's one of the worst swings
you'll see him take.
- [Caray] As the day, it continues, and he changes speed, so Bell strikes out.
- The gunslinger ready, the two-two. Strike, three tall. He punched out
the order in the first. That will do it for the Astros.
- [Wood] So, even though I struck out a side in the first inning, I sat down and was like,
"How did I just strike out a side?" Like, "What just happened?
I didn't throw a strike in the first last 30 minutes, and I just struck out a side
the first inning."
- [Hughes] What an opening inning for Kerry Wood, striking out the side. Wow.
- The fans still kind of buzzing after Kerry Wood banned Biggio, Bell,
and Bagwell in the top of the first.
- [Matt Erickson] I was one of the first ones into the bleachers that day.
And this guy showed up. He's got this stack of Ks on the back of,
you know, poster board, and ridiculously energetic,
and kind of asking, "Who wants to hold up K signs and watch this kid make history?"
You didn't have to follow the Cubs too closely to think, "Well,
you're crazy, dude." But that's how I met Tom.
- [Kim Corning] "Kerry, you have a tremendous career ahead of you,
not only as a pitcher but as an influence on kids all over Chicagoland.
Thanks for your time, Tom Bujnowski. P.S., I will have the K signs in the bleachers
for your next home start." And he really did,
but he didn't have enough.
- [Jake Bujnowski] The Ks definitely were for Kerry. As a rational 24-year-old now, yeah,
it's crazy that he made the signs for this one guy when he wasn't proven yet,
you know? It was just, there was hope that he
was going to be good.
- [Broadcaster] Jack Howell is going to try to become the first man to make contact
in this game.
- [Erickson] I was the fourth K in the bleachers that day, and at that point I'm going,
"This is fantastic. I'm going to get to hold one of these up
without question," right? I mean, Jack Howell was my guy,
the clean-up guy that day.
- [Hughes] Here's the wind-up and the one-two, and Howell strikes out swinging.
That's four in a row.
- [Erickson] From the first out in the second inning all the way onward for the rest
of the game, I was getting a workout.
- [Hughes] Ronnie, we were wondering who has the record for the most strikeouts to start
a game, consecutive strikeouts. Well, the Major League record's set by a guy
in the press box today, Jim Deshaies.
- [Santo] I'll be darned. - For the Astros.
- [Broadcaster] Well, Jim's going to think this one over a little bit now. He's got seven.
He's working on eight in a row to get this ballgame underway. This is amazing.
Eight consecutive strikeouts. Every player is up on the railing
applauding along with the crowd. Look at them, everybody.
- [Deshaies] For a lot of folks, it was more of a curiosity. It was, you know,
"How did that happen?"
My fastball doesn't really record.
It's not a, you know, real high, 90-plus fastball. But as long as it's
working for me, I don't care what the number is.
So, I started with eight in a row to start the ballgame. I finished with 10.
I mean, you expend a lot of energy. So, you know, I went the whole game,
but I only struck out 10. To maintain that stuff and to dominate
hitters for nine innings the way he did, there's no comparison. You know,
mine was kind of a neat thing and something I could always hang on to,
and I had a real nice game. His is, you know, probably the most dominant game
ever pitched.
- [Broadcaster] Whoa, and he comes up and in for his fifth consecutive strikeout.
- [Deshaies] That's one of the few times this year we've seen Moises Alou get beat
by a fastball.
- [Ricky Gutierrez] Moises was hitting in front of me. Always gauged my...a guy that I knew
had good stuff and threw hard, I always gauged, you know, went to him.
That day was probably the only day I've ever seen a fastball dominate him.
- [Stone] And yet another strikeout. Five in a row.
- [Gutierrez] That day when I asked him, "How's he throwing?"
He just gave me a look, like... Then he said, "Good luck."
- [Broadcaster] Six consecutive outs for Kerry Wood,
but Clark kept the ball in play. Nothing-nothing.
- [Caray] People who think pitching performances or pitchers' duels are boring,
watch this game. You had Shane Reynolds matching Kerry Wood pitch for pitch.
No quarter given, no quarter taken. I mean, these guys just went
after each other, and it was unbelievable.
- [Riggleman] Reynolds, I managed, you know, clubs against him in the minor leagues.
I had a lot of history with him, and he was an extremely tough pitcher,
and he was tough on us that day. But we scratched out one early.
- [Caray] That's deep enough to score the run.
Tagging from third is Grace. Cubs lead it one to nothing.
- [Riggleman] Kerry just...he made that enough.
- [Deshaies] He's given up an unearned run and probably thinks he can't allow too much
more the way things are going.
- And I'm sure Wood's thinking the same thing watching Shane Reynolds pitch,
realizing that he's got to be at the top of his game to compete with Shane.
- [Wood] It really kept me from getting caught up and focusing on the strikeouts,
and it was a one to nothing game until the eighth inning. I would have hated
to have been, you know, in his shoes that day, to have, you know,
have a gem like that go to waste and get an L for it. But he was definitely
locked in, too.
- [Caray] An unearned run the difference so far. The Cubs lead it one to nothing.
Ricky Gutierrez will lead off the Astro third. And he finally makes contact.
- [Gutierrez] I was just trying to put the ball in play, you know? I had two strikes,
so I was just trying to make contact, you know? Either fight off a fastball or,
you know, and he was...he happened to throw a curveball at me.
Probably the worst pitch of the game.
- [Wood] It was a backup, bad breaking ball and just a dumb pitch.
- [Caray] Long outing for it. To the left side, off Orie's glove into left field for
a base hit.
- [Wood] And it wasn't a good swing, and it wasn't a hard hit.
It just found the hole, and... but, base hit all the way.
- [Kaplan] And that turns out to be, like, "Oh my goodness, he could have had
a no-hitter." And that one moment in time will always be linked to this
20-strikeout performance.
- [Gutierrez] The two years I was there, I always gave him crap about it.
I once told him, I said, "You'll remember me for the rest
of your life." I said, "You'll remember that name,
Ricky Gutierrez, for the rest of your life." He would just tell me,
"Get outta here."
- [Wood] He brought it up to me every day. Every day. Every time he walked by me,
he would say something. I can't repeat it here,
but he would say something.
- [Gutierrez] It's always nice to go down in, you know, history with a guy pitching
a great performance like that and you mess it up.
- [Broadcaster] I'm not sure he got his glove on it. On that replay, it didn't appear that
he did. At first I thought he had.
- [Deshaies] Yeah, I thought he did. I'm surprised that's not an error.
- [Orie] I thought I should have made that play. If I would have been, like, maybe,
in a comfortable spot defensively to get that little extra angle or just commit
to the dive right away. And worst case, you get up, you try to throw him out
to be safe, and then you might have somebody say, "Why did he dive?'
- [Erickson] I don't know where they got the poster board from, but the E-5 was really almost
a lobbying to the official scorekeeper thinking, "God, if he sees this,
maybe he'll change it."
- [Orie] I came right in to the clubhouse. The media was everywhere.
Right away I just said, "Hey, just give me an error.
Let's just make this simple." They didn't. And so, so here we are.
- [Wood] You know, I could tell he was physically...not emotional,
but he was a little distraught and worried that it was going to be the only hit,
and then when it happened, he was apologetic and wanted the error.
You know, for him to come out and say "Yeah," you know, like,
"Give me the error, give me... I want to..." You know, he should do that.
But that's...it was a hit all the way.
- [Stone] There's no doubt that Sandy Martinez is the best-throwing of the Cub catchers.
He's got a quick release. He's normally very accurate.
- [Caray] Got him swinging. Snap throw to first.
- [Muskat] The guy who deserves some credit is Sandy Martinez. Here's a guy who hadn't
caught him that much, and he's part of history.
- [Hughes] You can hear Sandy Martinez's glove popping all the way upstairs.
- Sandy did an excellent job behind the plate. Kerry obviously felt comfortable
working with him.
- [Wood] I liked his visual. I liked throwing to Sandy.
I liked his energy. I liked the way he was... You know, there's a game
between...there's a game within the game, as most people know.
The catcher and the pitcher have their own game going on with the hitter, and then,
you know, the game that everybody else gets to see. And we were on the same page.
- [Adams] And we could see him fist-pumping, telling him to put the ball right here.
He was on one knee. I mean, he was doing the Tony Peña, squatted down.
You know, doing a split back there, getting low.
- [Wood] He's confident enough to sit down where he...if I spike this,
he can't get out of the way. So he must think that I can throw
this where... "Right here."
- [Caray] Say, it looks to me like Sandy's got a brand new catcher's mitt.
- [Stone] Well, he'd better have a little extra padding in there or his hand's going to be
about twice the size as the other.
- [Orie] To come in as a catcher and be able to do that with a guy that had the stuff that
Kerry did was also something that needs to be respected and certainly discussed.
- [Broadcaster] You notice the number Kerry Wood is wearing?
- Thirty-four. Nolan Ryan's number. I wonder if he asked for that
for that reason.
- Seems to fit so far.
- [Wood] I saw Nolan Ryan's last no-hitter. I was at that game. I was 13.
It was unbelievable. I mean, I was in the outfield. We got there early.
I caught a BP home run ball. It was, like, the greatest day of my life.
They were cheering after every out. I did feel the same way during my game.
- [Broadcaster] That's it. Number seven is in the books.
- [Wood] You watch the game, you see the no-hitter,
everybody's going crazy. And then you're a kid,
so what you're doing, you're picking up all the ticket stubs
because you think, "Oh, this is the greatest day ever."
I was told early in my career by a veteran player that, you know,
every time you go out there to pitch... he always imagined there was a bunch
of 10-year-old kids watching the game for the first time. And you're the example he
has of what a baseball player's supposed to do, or how he's supposed to act.
And that stuck with me as a young player, so I always look at that.
I have a responsibility to act a certain way, to be a certain way on the field,
because someone out there is getting a moment, a memory in their life, you know,
that they're not going to forget.
- [Caray] Got him with it again. - [Hughes] Two-two to Howell.
- Fastball got him looking. - [Caray] The oh-two.
- Strike three called.
- [Hughes] Now the strike two pitch on the way. - Got him looking.
- [Caray] Struck out the last four men he's faced. Make it five in a row
and 11 in the game.
- [Caray] I don't remember seeing a guy whose fastball had such unbelievable movement
and whose breaking stuff had such unbelievable movement.
- [Wood] My stuff was always there. It was just a question of whether I knew
where it was going to go.
- [Caray] His slider was exploding. It had another...you're getting
to the plate, and then it just dropped. And we're talking 16,
18 inches of vertical break. The hitters, when that pitch was on, had no chance.
- [Adams] It was just unbelievable for Sandy to sit there and say, "Here,
put it right here," and Kerry rear back and throw it 98, 99, and put it...
that glove didn't move.
- [Gutierrez] After I got that hit, I guess he got mad at me.
I didn't see anything else but fastballs. I remember he threw a fastball
and I didn't even see it.
- [Mantegna] What I often take my cue from is the opposing batter. They seemed a little
baffled by things.
- [Deshaies] There's a lot of guessing. You've got no chance to catch up to a 97,
98 mile fastball when you're, you know, telling yourself to stay back
on the curveball.
- [Caray] Wood's pitching not like a 20-year-old but like a 20-year veteran today.
- [Williams] And what if I had have been up there at the plate with Woody throwing the
ball today? And I say, it was similar to Sandy Koufax.
He had a good fastball. The fastball was about 98. 97, 98,
and had a good breaking ball. Good slider, ball was moving real good. And I said,
"This is the closest thing to Sandy Koufax's perfect game as I've seen."
- [Wood] I was able to do things that, you know, I've searched for the rest of my career
to try to do. I was chasing those moments, you know, for the next 15 years.
But I was able to do things that day that, I don't know, it was just one of those
days I can't really describe other than it being just slower motion,
and it just seemed to be a lot easier that day.
- [Caray] The lights are on and no one's home. At least that's the case for the
Astros today. See ya later. Twelve strikeouts and two outs
in the Houston sixth.
- [Stone] You can see 12, right across the board.
- [Wood] I didn't really start noticing until about the fourth inning. You know,
there was...you know, a few more of them starting to add up.
I didn't count them. Couldn't tell at the time what it was.
I could just see that it was "K," something white in the middle,
and I could see the red and blue.
- [Brad Hofvander] What Tom did is he got clip art, for lack of a better term,
of two baseball bats and a baseball.
- [Bujnowski] The broken baseball bats with the ball in the center to form the "K."
It was this idea that the pitcher, you know, if they're getting strikeouts,
if they're racking up Ks, they're missing bats.
- [Erickson] And they were pretty big. They were on the back of poster board.
He had laminated over the top of them.
- [Hofvander] And he made eight in red and eight in blue. Brought them all out there and ended
up using all 16 of them.
- [Muskat] The kids were smart enough that they did a called strike, I think they turned
them backwards, which was good.
- [Santo] Different colors, Ks. You know, I've never seen that since I've been
a player or a broadcast, ever, anybody having the Ks out there
in the bleachers.
- [Erickson] Not only did Tom show up with all these "K" signs, but he also showed up with any
jersey that he could find that had a "34" on it.
- [Bujnowski] The idea was that Kerry was going to be the next great 34. Hakeem Olajuwon,
Charles Barkley, and then there's a Shaq jersey in there, too.
- [Wood] Lakers, yeah. The Lakers jerseys, yeah. I do remember the jerseys,
now that you say that, yeah, and the Lakers jersey sticks
out for some reason.
- [Erickson] And people put those on to help, kind of, boost just the morale of,
"We're here for Woody today." And again, that was that kind of crazy thing
about him is that he knew what he was getting into when he went to the park
that day. None of the rest of us did. How he knew, I don't know.
I don't think we'll ever understand that. But he just...he knew.
- [Hughes] Jerry Meals, the home plate umpire today, has certainly been busy pumping
out that right arm.
- [Santo] He really has, and he's giving about two or three inches off the plate,
that expanded strike zone for both sides.
- [Wood] I've made comments in the past about the strike zone, and I think what we see is
the strike threes. And a lot of them, I think, were maybe a little generous
at times.
- [Meals] Back in the day before all the electronics that we have now,
guys were hitting spots all day long. Doesn't matter who it was,
you were an inch off the plate or two inches off the plate, nobody said a word.
They expected it to be called a strike.
- [Orie] You had it going as a pitcher, and the umpire knew you had that stuff,
and you were consistent in those spots, and getting, really,
hitters to look foolish consistently? You will get the benefit of the doubt.
- [Wood] I mean, I wasn't getting Maddux and Glavine stuff like they were in the '90s,
but it was...you know, I got, there was five or six that were
questionable to today's strike zone.
- [Meals] And again, Shane Reynolds had 10 strikeouts that day.
That's baseball then and earlier compared to the way it is now.
- [Kaplan] You'd see balls this far off the plate, ring them up. But they couldn't have hit
Kerry with a boat oar that day.
- [Caray] Got it.
- [Meals] Kerry was dominant, and they were frustrated with not being
able to put the bat on the ball.
- [Hughes] And the payoff pitch. Swing and a miss. Strike three. That's 14 for Kerry Wood.
- [Caray] One ball, two strikes. Did he go? Yes, he did.
- [Meals] Moises Alou was upset with Terry Tata because he rung him up when I went
to check for...on a check swing. Threw his bat and got an equipment fine
out of it, so...
- [Wood] I always liked seeing Moises slam his bat down and yell at the umpire,
so I like his check-swing strikeout.
- [Caray] He strikes out the side again as we go to the seventh inning stretch.
♪ Take me out to the crowd ♪
- [Mantegna] When I got to that end of the song, you know, because normally, you know,
there's, "One, two..." ♪ ...two, three strikes you're out ♪
♪ at the old... ...at the old ball game. ♪
"Let's go Cubbies." But that day I yelled, "Go Kerry."
Go Kerry.
So I'd like to think that I was somewhat responsible for those last
couple strikeouts.
- [Caray] The rain really starting to come down now here in the bottom half of the
seventh inning. You have to wonder how long the umpires are going to let this
thing go on.
- [Wood] I really just was hoping he wasn't going to call the game or pull the tarp.
- [Broadcaster] I think, Tim, if you're Larry Dierker right now, what you pray for is
about an hour-and-a-half rain delay, get Kerry Wood out of there,
and hope to come back at the bullpen.
- [Hughes] Ron Santo said, "It's raining pretty hard. If it gets any harder,
they're going to have to delay the game." And of course it would have
been heartbreaking, because that could have meant that it would have been an hour
rain delay, and Kerry Wood, despite his phenomenal game,
might not have been able to return after the delay,
and he would never have struck out 20.
- [Brown] The rain is moving in. That's the last thing we need
for a pitcher's duel, Jim Deshaies.
- [Deshaies] Yeah, it's raining pretty hard out there right now.
- If it starts to get to the point where it's slippery and he's starting to lose it
a little bit, it can influence the umpire's decisions. I've seen that where
guys were...literally will call the umpire out.
- [Caray] The rule of thumb is, if the pitchers are uncomfortable,
they first do some work on the mound. Add Diamond Dry, tamp down the clay on the
slope of the mound. They do everything they can to make sure that the pitchers'
footing is secure.
- [Wood] I threw three or four pitches, I think, where I slipped six,
seven inches when I landed, and the ball just still went right
to the glove. So it was just one of those days. Reynolds didn't seem to be having
a difficult time gripping the ball, and landing, and all that stuff.
It was just in such a zone and such a groove and didn't want to stop.
- [Orie] He was able to not think about any of that distraction weather-wise and go
out and execute the way he did, which is another tap on his shoulder.
- [Wood] Came down pretty hard there for about 10 minutes, and then it tapered off a little
bit and we were able to, kind of, finish the game.
- [Hughes] The Cubs in back of Kerry Wood lead the Astros one to nothing. Wood with no walks.
- [Santo] If he doesn't walk anybody, he's going to strike out a lot of guys.
- [Hughes] And he's going to win a lot of games. - [Santo] You'd better believe it.
- [Wood] In the minor leagues, their biggest concern when they sent me
down is, "We want you to stop walking guys and get the control issue under control."
- [Caray] The learning curve for guys is making adjustments. It's difficult to get to the
Major Leagues. It's even more difficult to stay, and if you don't adjust, you won't.
- [Broadcaster] We go to the eighth inning. Dave Clark, the former Cub, will lead off for Houston.
- [Wood] I went three-one on Clark, and Gracie had told me before the game,
"I don't care if you're throwing 120 miles an hour, you throw him too many fastballs
and he's going to hit it on to Sheffield.
- [Caray] The three-one to Clark. Three and two.
- [Wood] So I got three-two on him and remembered that. I was kind of afraid to throw him
a fastball, so I, you know, broke him off.
- [Caray] Got him.
- [Orie] He was out front waiting, and then the bottom just dropped off.
And most guys probably would not have been able to hold the bat the way they
did without, you know, breaking their wrist.
- [Hughes] Clark with a half swing. It'll cost him a full strike.
- [Orie] And the grimace on his face, it was...that was enjoyable.
- [Hughes] The control was amazing. Whenever you think about 20 strikeouts and
no walks, that pretty much tells you all you need to know right there.
- [Wood] Just because there's a little backstory, that's probably my favorite one
of the group. But...and there's not a strikeout I don't like.
- [Santo] How about the Ks out in left field? - [Hughes] Hope they brought
a good supply of those today, Ron. - Yeah.
- [Caray] I just remember seeing the strikeouts adding up, and I was thinking,
"Those folks are going to have to go to a Kmart or a Circle K to get
a few more signs."
- [Santo] Probably, if they run out, those bleacher bums are...one thing
they'll do, they'll take their shirt off and put a K on their chest.
- [Wood] I feel like they ran out. I feel like there were some people that
didn't have shirts on.
- [Erickson] I know that he was in the background in the second row and the third row trying
to get people that were willing to take their shirts off and figure out a way
to get four more, because we can't have 16 signs if he strikes out 17.
I don't know who he recruited, but there were four people who were
willing to do it.
- [Caray] The oh-two. Got him. He's tied the record.
♪ [music] ♪
- [Muskat] The phones are ringing like crazy in the press box. I'm on the phone with my
editors in New York and telling them...we're counting the Ks.
You're going through the record books trying to figure out,
"Is that a rookie record?" There was a major buzz in the press box.
- [Hughes] Two outs in the eighth inning, and here's Brad Ausmus.
- We realized that there was possible history in the making.
I knew that Roger Clemens was the only guy who had ever struck out 20.
And then you start doing the math.
- [Caray] You're figuring, "Wow, he's got a chance, if his pitch
count's okay, to really have an unbelievably high strikeout total."
- Wood has tied the team record for strikeouts in a game.
It's a 92-year-old record.
- [Mantegna] I remember, at that point, they kind of explained to me, "Hey,
we're getting close to the top Major League record for strikeouts."
And I'm like, "Whoa, hello."
- [Caray] Couldn't think of a more appropriate singing of the seventh inning stretch,
the "One, two, three strikes you're out."
- [Mantegna] This is fantastic. This is what everybody comes for,
to hopefully come to that special game, which this one's turning out to be.
- [Kaplan] There's only 15,000 people, max, in the ballpark. And I remember feeling
like we were all part of this group, this exclusive club.
- [Stone] They're being treated to one of the fine performances by a rookie pitcher that they
have ever seen.
- [Brian Garza] We noticed people coming to the ticketing windows that were still looking
to get a ticket once they had heard. You know, if they were listening on the
radio or if they were watching at one of the local establishments.
And the one that I remember specifically is a guy walked up with two kids.
And he lived in the neighborhood, and he said that he had pulled his kids
out of class. And he wanted them to see, you know, this potential
history-making performance.
- [Stone] He's threatening to strike out the side for the fourth time in the game.
- [Caray] What can you say? Eighteen strikeouts. It's a new Cub record.
- [Hughes] And that's one of the beauties of baseball. Sometimes a magical event will
come out of nowhere. And I would put Kerry Wood's epic
20-strikeout game in that category of just coming right out of the blue.
- [Santo] Is this exciting or is this exciting?
- Oh my God.
♪ [music] ♪
- [Caray] Kerry Wood awaiting the top of the ninth.
- [Williams] You're seeing games through the years that when a guy's pitching good,
he's the most lonely guy on the bench. Nobody go up there and talk to him because
everybody go up there and start talking, they feel that, you know,
they get him out of his rhythm.
- [Wood] You're really just trying to focus and do exactly what you did the last inning
in between innings, and try to drink the same amount of water and spit on the same
sunflower seed shell that's on the ground.
- [Stone] Kerry Wood sitting there contemplating what his ninth inning is going to look
like, and it will be a lot more comfortable for him if the Cubs
can push one across.
- [Caray] One and two. Hit towards third. He'll try to turn two. Howell took forever,
Well, the Cubs get a run.
- [Orie] Guys weren't talking about it, because it's almost kind of taboo
in baseball. You don't want to jinx somebody, go up and, "Hey." You know,
it's like golf. You're six under through five, and then suddenly you go out and
bogie in the next hole, and you want to strangle that guy.
- [Wood] People were leaving me alone. Even though I'd given up a hit already,
they still kind of thought something was different going on.
- [Stone] For a young man on the mound with everything going for him,
you can't wait to get out there. He wants this inning to end.
He feels with two runs he's got enough.
- [Wood] I think they kind of were struggling at the end of the game with the pitch count
and deciding what to do. I think there was conversations there
at the end of how I felt, and I didn't...I'm not sure I even
answered him.
- [Riggleman] With that dominating performance he was having, if I'd have taken him out,
I would probably need security to get out of the stadium, you know?
- [Caray] We go to the ninth inning. The man of the afternoon, Kerry Wood
has already set the Cubs' all-time record for single-game strikeouts with 18.
The National League record 19, the Major League record 20.
- [Wood] We'd talked before the game. We know, you know, who was going to come off the
bench later in the game. Obviously it was going to be dealing
with a lefty late in the game.
- [Caray] Spiers hitting .242, 0 for 6 as a pinch-hitter.
- [Wood] Didn't know much about him. Didn't know much about any of these guys.
Just tried to attack the strike zone the way I was all day.
- [Broadcaster] It's strike one on Spiers.
- [Deshaies] You feel a sense of pity for Spiers to have to come off the bench, right?
He'd been sitting there for a couple hours. And you can almost envision
a situation where, you know, anybody, all the bench guys are kind of looking
the other way so the manager doesn't, you know, call them to hit.
- [Caray] Got it. He ties the National League record.
- [Orie] It had so much English to it, it was weird. The swing was weird. I mean,
he went to it and then just... he just gave up.
- [Caray] That was a floating slider that came well inside to Spiers.
- [Wood] I've seen it on the replay. And, you know, Sandy's glove is behind him.
And you can actually see the glove and the ball when he finishes swinging,
and it just went straight sideways. It was like...I think that's the only one
I threw that day that went straight that way.
- [Hughes] And if you think about it, Kerry Wood struck out every single man
who appeared in the game for the Houston Astros. So he gets Spiers.
[Caray] Biggio comes up.
- And to the top of the order we go, and Craig Biggio.
- And you're thinking, of all the people who are going to
get a clean hit and ruin a chance for Kerry Wood to get to 21 strikeouts,
you figured it was going to be Craig Biggio.
- [Kaplan] He's choked up a little bit. He's got that nasty, dirty helmet on.
It's all scuffed up. I mean, this guy is a warrior.
- [Wood] I still just didn't want to walk anybody. You know, obviously I get
a runner on base, Bell pops one, we're a tied game. It's all for not.
- [Deshaies] I used to talk to him. He's like, "I hate making the last out of the game."
- [Caray] He goes for number 20 right here.
- [Deshaies] I'm sure being part of history to be, you know, the 20th punch-out was not
something he would want to be a part of.
- [Caray] To the shortstop. Two down. And the fans boo Craig Biggio
for making contact.
- Sure enough, he swung at the pitch, made an out, and the crowd booed him.
[Kaplan] But I remember him, as he ran by Kerry Wood, he just looked at him
with a smile, like it was a victory for a Hall of Fame hitter to ground out.
- [Erickson] We knew that 21 was possible. When it was no longer possible, yeah,
there's a little bit of disappointment. You've come that far.
- [Caray] He's got a chance to tie Clemens, though, if he can retire Bell.
- [Erickson] Not nearly as disappointing as it would have been if he would have been stuck
on 19, though.
- [Broadcaster] Derek Bell struck out in the first inning. He's made contact twice
since then. Fly ball to right field and a foul pop. Ball one.
- [Riggleman] You know, I really was anxious for it to happen. You know, we were going to be
a little concerned if Bell scratched out an at-bat with 10 or 12 pitches and then,
you know, got on base.
- [Caray] One and 0 to Bell.
- Nasty. - One and one.
- [Orie] Bell was...he was beaten. You know, he was already done at that point,
because you could see his lower half was out, removed, and kind of, like,
that effortless swing.
- [Deshaies] I think there was an air of, "Let's get this over with."
- [Gutierrez] Everybody knew how many he had, so we were just trying to be, like,
"Let's not be this one," or "Let's not be this number or
that number." But you know, there was nothing we can do.
- [Deshaies] Guys are just, kind of, beat up a little bit mentally from being
dominated all afternoon. It's probably one of those things where
you're like, "I wish this thing had ended before I got one more turn."
- [Caray] One and two.
- [Hughes] Everyone is standing. So, it's dramatic. And I'm working with Ron Santo,
and I said something like, "Ronnie, it's only May, but it feels like it's
a World Series game." It really did. It had that kind of drama.
And Ron came up with a great line. He said...
- [Santo] And if this kid keeps pitching like this, we may be in a World Series.
- [Wood] You've got two outs, it's just, you know, empty the tank right here
on this hitter. So I emptied it.
- [Caray] The greatest ammunition a TV broadcaster has during a broadcast is the picture.
Fans can see what's going on, and the fans who have been watching
the game know that he's sitting on 19 strikeouts and has a one-hit
shutout working. What they can't see, perhaps, is what the catcher's call is
going to be. You figured with Derek Bell up there, a right-handed hitter,
it was going to be a breaking ball of some sort, which Stone, I think,
had set up before.
- [Stone] One more curveball, and that should be about it.
- [Wood] Yeah, I don't know how I knew I was going to throw. He must have knew my sign.
He called it before I threw it.
- [Caray] So, Sandy Martinez gets in that low crouch, puts the two down,
and I just said, "Here comes the hook."
- Here comes the hook. Got him, 20 strikeouts.
He ties the Major League record. Unbelievable.
- [Wood] And that last pitch was just, I gripped my slider, slurve,
or whatever we were calling it at the time, and just threw it as hard as I could
that way and spun it. And that was probably the best one of the day.
- [Gutierrez] And to this day, I laugh at it when I see it because it was like a wiffleball.
I mean, it was just, the way he let go of that ball
and how it broke, it's just funny now.
- [Broadcaster] Twenty-year-old Kerry Wood gets Derek Bell for his 20th strikeout,
a National League record.
- [Wood] The next series, I think, in Houston, I think Derek Bell came over.
We were laying around stretching, and he says, he's like, "Hey, man,
I just want you to know, I swung at that on purpose for you."
You know, the last pitch kind of thing. And I was like, "I know you did.
I know you did."
- [Mantegna] Here I am sitting next...with Pat Hughes, Ron Santo,
Ron Santo who I idolized. And he was just so excited and
so thrilled. Hey, I'm an Italian guy from Chicago, too. We're related.
We were like, "Yeah."
- [Hughes] Yeah, and a miss. Strike three, 20 strikeouts for Kerry Wood.
- [Kaplan] I'm in the back row of our booth, and Mantegna throws his arms around me.
And we're both pumping our fists, we're hugging, and I just couldn't stop.
And if you listen to the tape today, I remember going, "Woo."
- Woo, unbelievable.
- That is, you know, 20 years ago. That's a 37-year-old David Kaplan
acting like a lunatic, but I wouldn't trade that moment for anything.
- [Mantegna] In all the games throughout my lifetime, for me to be in that time and place,
I got lucky with that one.
- [Muskat] The best part of the game, to me, was at the end, you know,
everybody sees him do that fist pump. I've had people ask me, well,
wasn't he counting the strikeouts? Well, no, he wasn't counting the strikeouts.
The reason he did that was because he didn't walk a batter.
- [Wood] I'd been told about it all through my career in the minor leagues,
and I had struggled with it in the beginning of my career in the first
few starts. And for me, it was my first complete game ever
and the first time I'd ever not walked anybody. So, the fist pump for me
was for complete game and no walks.
- [Riggleman] If he would have been jumping around and stuff, that just would have been so
uncharacteristic of Kerry. I think that that little bit of emotion
he showed there was typical of the class act that he was.
- [Caray] I don't know if Kerry Wood knew what he did at the time that he did it.
I know that he knew he won the game, but I don't really know in my heart
of hearts in that instant if he realized he had struck out 20 guys.
- [Hughes] He is being mobbed by his teammates right near the mound at Wrigley Field.
- [Wood] I didn't really know what was going on. I mean, we just won a game two to nothing
in May. I didn't know why everybody was out there.
- I think Sandy gave me the ball, and then...and Grace grabbed me
by the neck.
- [Adams] I think when he did it, we all rushed the field like we'd just
won the World Series. We were just so happy for him.
- [Orie] He just looks young. You see him baby face in there. For him,
it's just a swirl of emotions trying to encapsulate all of that.
- [Wood] And the next thing I know, I was in front of the camera shaking
like a leaf trying to do a post-game interview.
- [Caray] Kerry, congratulations. What a ball game today.
- [Wood] Thank you very much.
- [Caray] Whatever nerves he had between the white lines, they weren't there until
that microphone got shoved in his hand and that earpiece went on.
- [Wood] Now I'm live on TV and doing something that I hated to do, which was talk
to cameras and talk to the media. I think it was Chip that actually said,
"Well, it was 20, and you just broke the record."
- [Caray] Did you know how many men you had struck out and that you were chasing
the Major League record that you tied today?
- [Wood] No, I couldn't even tell you how many I had.
- [Caray] Well, you had 20. Did they give you the baseball at least?
- [Wood] No, not yet.
- [Caray] Make sure you get that, young man, because that's one for the mantelpiece.
- All right.
- [Wood] Still, at the time, it didn't register. I mean, I was still just trying to get
the interview over with. And I was like, "Oh, that's great," kind of thing.
And then when I went through, somebody, one of the photographers from a baseball
card company, I don't know who it was, like, pulled me in a tunnel and had
already written "21" on a ball. And I just...this guy just...and they'd
just told me, Chip had just told me it was 20. So I was like, "Hey, man, it's not 21.
I'm not holding this up." Because he wanted to take a picture and do
a baseball card, and it said 21, and I was like, "It's not 21, it was 20."
So he took the one and tried to make it like a round...so it looks like I had "2D"
strikeouts on the baseball card, actually, is what it looks like. And then,
obviously, I get into my locker and get into the clubhouse, and we celebrate.
And then the media comes in and it's, you know, my life has changed.
- [Reporter] Did the idea of equaling something that Roger Clemens has done to set a record,
is that sunk in yet?
- [Wood] No, but it will later on. I won't be able to sleep tonight.
I'll be...you know, that's just the greatest honor that I could ever ask
for right there.
- I was doing all the media stuff, and someone worked their way
through and said, "Hey, you've got a phone call in the
trainer's room." And I was like, "I've been here for a month.
Who's calling me? I don't even know the number. Like, who's calling me in the
trainer's room?" And I just picked up the phone. I was like, "Hello." And he's like,
"Hey, Kerry, it's Rocket." And I was, like, blank. I was not expecting anything.
I was like...and so I had to ask, like, "Who?" And he's like, "The Rocket."
And I still had nothing. I was like, "Who?" And, you know, he said,
"Roger Clemens." And I was like, "Oh. Hey, Rocket. Hey, what's going on?"
So I was just caught off guard. And then, obviously, he was welcoming me to the club
and saying, "Congratulations. Saw the end of the game.
You looked amazing." So, I mean, that was a pretty special moment for me
as a rookie, as a young player.
- [Caray] I remembered, "Wow, he really is 20." And I think we all forget that.
This is a 20-year-old kid who just went to the mound at baseball's most historic
ballpark and did something that had never been done before there. I'm thinking,
this kid's life has changed forever because of this one performance.
- [Wood] Off the field stuff was...we got crazy. I didn't see the opportunity. I was just,
like, "Make it go away. I just want to...I've got to pitch
in two days." Like, "I just want to go back to being a kid trying to make it
in the game." I think the expectations changed as well with that,
after that fifth start.
- [Deshaies] You've got a guy who I think scouts felt like, "Here's a guy who's got a chance
to be an all-time great." And then he has this game at such
a tender age, so early in his career, and that's not just scouts now,
it's the whole baseball world. And all the fans and casual fans are like,
"Wow," you know, "sky's the limit."
- [Caray] And that became kind of a benchmark game for Kerry, and that people around
the country would come watch him pitch and were almost disappointed if all he did was
strike out 10 and win the game 7 to 2.
- [Adams] When you strike out 20, I'm sure everybody thinks you're going
to go out there and strike out 20 again, and strike out 20 again.
- [Wood] Even for me, I mean, I expected to go out and do it. You know,
I think I struck out 13 at the next start and, you know, felt disappointed that I
didn't get more, went seven innings. So, it set the bar for me.
It kind of elevated it for myself, but I think also, I mean,
for fans and everybody else in the media, it became, you know,
every time, "He's going to... Kept throwing out, every time he pitches,
he could throw a no-hitter. He could do something special.
It's going to be this. He's going to win 20.
He's going to be the next Doc Gooden. He's going to be the next Roger Clemens."
That stuff changed.
- [Kaplan] Ron Santo says, "That kid keeps pitching that way, we may be in a World Series."
And that's what everyone expected. "Kerry Wood is going to deliver us
the Holy Grail that we've all dreamed about for so long."
And it made it really tough on him.
- [Wood] You see your career being, "You're supposed to do this," when,
you know, two days ago I was just trying to make it in this...I didn't know if I
belonged or not yet.
- [Muskat] Unfortunately, he had the elbow issues.
- [Wood] And it really was the fist pump after it that I first felt it.
But I pitched the rest of the season, you know, and got to the end
of the season. Like, missed the last month,
so it wasn't like it was an injury that happened right then.
You feel things in different times. That particular day, it was on the last one.
- [Muskat] I think he was on the DL 16 times in his career, which is not something anyone
wants to be known for.
- [Deshaies] You saw a kid with all this talent, and in the end, he had a very nice career.
But without the injuries, we always have that "What if."
- [Hughes] Kerry Wood was meant to pitch that one magical 20-strikeout game.
He had a lot of great games thereafter, but unfortunately for Kerry,
he never quite was able to match that historic performance,
which is not really that surprising because it was such an unusual game.
- This is the last big league game he will ever pitch in in his career.
- [Len Kasper] Talking to Pat Hughes before the game, he said this was the most dominating game
he's ever seen, 20 strikeouts in his rookie year against the Astros.
Swing and a miss, he's struck him out.
- [Broadcaster] His teammates are congratulating him, and he will leave with the memory of
the last guy he faced, he struck out swinging.
- [Hughes] Kerry Wood has just walked off for the final time in his big league career.
- [Kasper] Wow, what a moment. His son Justin giving him a big hug.
- [Wood] I think he ran out there, right here. Right about here, he realized there was
40,000 people out there and he would not let go of my leg.
That was a good day, though. Justin came. I took him to the field with me that day.
Remember that? Went up in the scoreboard. - [Justin] Yeah.
- [Man] We were talking his 20-strikeout game. Have you seen highlights of it?
What do you... - Yeah.
- [Justin] Yeah, I've seen it. It's pretty cool.
- [Wood] I show him every day before school, over breakfast.
- [Mantegna] He fulfilled a lot of people's dreams, just even in that moment, what he did.
He is certainly one of the heroic aspects of Cubdom.
- [Wood] I've had people come and say, "That game single-handedly made me
a baseball fan, made me a Cubs fan." You know, 20 years later,
to still have people say that that was, like, one of their best baseball memories
is pretty cool.
- [Mantegna] Ernie Banks was my guy, you know, growing up. That's the guy that
I idolized. But I'm sure for a lot of younger people, you know,
Kerry Wood is that guy. You know, you mention Chicago Cubs and say,
"Who is your favorite player of all time?" And it's going to be...there's going to be
a contingent that are going to say, "Kerry Wood."
- [Bujnowski] Well, I don't think I'll ever care about any player as much as I care
about Kerry Wood. After my dad passed away, Brad Hofvander,
one of my dad's friends, brought a couple of the miniature-sized Ks
to an autograph signing with Kerry.
- [Hofvander] He was like, "I carried a sign," and Kerry knew exactly what it was.
- [Wood] Super passionate, is what I remember about Tom. Very passionate about the Cubs,
very passionate about the K signs and the thing that happened,
the way it just became a part of history when it...he was just a fan.
He had more confidence in me, I think, at the time when I first came in than I
probably did. They really believe in what you're doing, and they think you're going
to come out of your slump or you're going to be the next greatest thing.
We feed off of all of that stuff. To be able to give a family or
a person...a family, you know, memories like that, and to be able to be
a part of that and give them some great lasting memories, it's humbling.
- [Bujnowski] It was closure in a way, you know? Knowing that my dad wasn't doing all
of this, you know, as a crazy Cubs fan for nothing. Knowing that Kerry recognized
the effort. It's a cool reminder to have of all the history that's wrapped
into that K.
♪ [music] ♪
- [Wood] I didn't collect a whole lot of stuff over the years, but this is all of...
the majority of the balls I have. So he said "Ties the record with 20
strikeouts," and "Win number 3." And then put the zeroes up, and that's it.
Biggio signed this for me. Sent a bat over. "To Kerry, May 6th, 1998,
the single most dominant game I've ever been a part of. Best wishes,
Craig Biggio." Pretty cool.
- [Orie] This is the most dominant performance stuff-wise all across the board that...
I put that up against any performance. I don't know how you can do better
than that. His stuff was that good.
- [Adams] When I watch the highlights, I still get chills and get emotional,
because it was just unbelievable.
- [Caray] I have never, ever seen a pitcher with the kind of command that Kerry Wood had.
It was the single most dominant pitching performance I have ever seen.
- [Kaplan] That one day, you take that as a snapshot of Kerry Wood's career,
is the single greatest pitching performance I have ever seen.
- [Meals] That's a record for Major League Baseball. And you think of how many games
have been played in Major League Baseball, and it's been done five times,
20 strikeouts, which is quite an accomplishment.
- [Deshaies] Twenty punch-outs, no walks, over a good team? I challenge somebody
to find me a better one.
- [Muskat] The Kerry Wood game is my favorite game of all time. You have this
20-year-old kid, you have no idea what he's going to do, and boom.
He goes out there and strikes out 20 players. It's a perfect example of how
great baseball is.
- [Hughes] It's been almost 20 years ago. it's as vivid as something that happened
last week.
♪ [music] ♪
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20 | The History Behind Kerry Wood's 20 Strikeout Game

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Li Rose published on June 5, 2019
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