Kid K walks away

Chicago Cubs right-hander Kerry Wood formally announced his retirement from baseball today at Wrigley Field with his family by his side, ending a 14-season big league career.

Originally selected by the Cubs with the fourth overall pick in the 1995 draft, Wood pitched 16 years in the organization, including his first 14 seasons. He retires with the third-most strikeouts in team history (1,470) and as only the fourth pitcher to spend 12 or more seasons with the franchise, joining Charlie Root (16 seasons), Guy Bush (12) and Rick Reuschel (12).

The 34-year-old Wood walks away with a career 86-75 record, 63 saves, 1,582 strikeouts and a 3.67 ERA (563 ER/1380.0) in 446 major league appearances (178 starts). He averaged 10.32 strikeouts per nine innings in his career, the second-highest total of any pitcher in major league history, behind only Randy Johnson’s 10.61 mark (minimum 1,300 innings pitched).

On a perfect, sunny day at Wrigley, Wood stood at a podium in front of home plate and thanked his family, teammates, coaches and colleagues. Here are some highlights from the ceremony:

“I’m excited for the future, and I’m excited to watch what these guys are going to be capable of doing. These guys are starting the journey I’m ending today, and I’m looking forward to watching these guys grow and learn this game and ultimately bring a championship to the city that deserves it.”

“I just love the city, love the atmosphere. I love the attitude of the people, love just everything about it. I’m a kid from Texas who showed up here at 17 or 18 years old and white-knuckled the cab ride all the way to the stadium from the airport. I just never thought I’d be able to do it. The place grows on you, and I just love everything about it.”

“I didn’t have to try to crank this thing up today and come in and stretch or do anything like that. I got to watch a little league game this morning and loved every minute of it.”

“You know when it’s time. The body was telling me and obviously the results were telling me. So I’ve got no regrets. I played this game as long as I could and as hard as I could. And I’m fine saying that.”

“This is home. This is why I came back. The fans, this stadium. Yesterday was the best weather day we had. This place was beautiful and rocking. That’s the way I want to remember Wrigley Field, and that’s the way I will remember it.”

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