by Uncle George
The sudden retirement of Kerry Wood brings up a bunch of memories, and, what I think for me is the end of an era.
First, the memories. They go all the way back to the beginning. Two of my brothers and I traditionally do a week of Spring Training in Arizona and we were there to see Wood before he ever set foot in Wrigley Field.
One day my brother, Jeff, and I were down the right field line which leads to the locker rooms. One Cub player headed our way and it was this young kid named Kerry. I had a ball and asked to him to please sign it.
He came over, signed the ball, and I uttered the famous words..."You're going to the Hall of Fame." For a while it looked like I was a true prophet. A month later he struck out 20 Astros and went on to win the Rookie of the Year award.
We all know the rest of the story. What might have been. Lots of memories, most of them good. I gave the ball to my godson and he had better cherish it.
My other thought though is about the end of an era in my lifetime. I grew up with many Cub players as my heroes. I choose not to argue whether we should have baseball players as heroes. For me, and many in my generation, it seemed normal.
Anyway, the list starts with Ernie and Billy. Ronnie and Randy. Fergie and Ryne. But, then baseball changed and there were no heroes, only mercenaries. Kerry Wood somehow transcended that.
He left Chicago for a couple of years, not his choice by all reports, but then came "home" to finish his career. To me he is as much a Cub as Ernie, Billy and Ronnie. I think it is fair to predict that he will be my last hero in baseball.
And I think that's the way I want it to be. Goodbye Kerry.