Results tagged ‘ Kerry Wood ’

Wood hitting a homer with his foundation’s fundraising event

Battle-of-Bats-Preview-0040(Photo Courtesy Wood Family Foundation)

In his playing days, Kerry Wood was one of the toughest pitchers in baseball. There’s no way he was going to let a little rain keep fans away from Wrigley Field for one of his signature events.

On July 10, the Wood Family Foundation will host the second-annual Kerry Wood and Friends Battle of the Bats Home Run Derby. The event gives fans a chance to step into the batter’s box at the Friendly Confines and take their hacks in front of the ivy. The derby was originally scheduled for May 25, but it was rained out. The event gives fans a chance to live out their childhood dreams by stepping into the batter’s box and taking their hacks at Wrigley Field.

“I think both Cubs Charities and my foundation realized what kind of an event it can be,” said former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood. “Last year, we had a great turnout, a great event. We raised a lot of money for charities, so I think we’re looking to do bigger and better this year.”

What makes the event truly special is that participants get to do something unique and possibly something they have been dreaming of their whole lives. Though Wood was able to step into the Wrigley Field batter’s box on 190 regular-season occasions throughout his 14-year big-league career, what this opportunity means to fans isn’t lost on the ex-Cub. With money being raised for his foundation and participants having a good time, the event becomes twice as rewarding.

“I think when you’re running a foundation or you’re doing it for charity or anything to raise money, you do [make]… experiences,” Wood said. “You get the emails after it’s over, and they all had great stories.

“We had people in bare feet in the grass in the outfield, walking around. I don’t think I’ve done that—walk around in the outfield in my bare feet.”

Some of Wood’s former Cubs teammates are scheduled to on hand, and Wood said others will likely make an appearance. Contestants will each get 10 outs—that’s any swing that isn’t a home run. The top 10 qualifiers will reach the second round, with the top three going to the finals.

Interested parties can sign up in teams of four with a $15,000 minimum donation, or as individuals for $3,500. New this year, the top six high school-aged fundraisers will also get an opportunity to compete.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Cubs Charities and the Wood Family Foundation’s Pitch In Program. The Pitch In Program partners young students, fourth grade and up, with a caring adult who will serve as a mentor throughout the school year. The goal is for the students, currently in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood, to have guidance until they reach high school. The program started in October 2014 and is continuing to grow.

“I feel like we’re getting a chance to affect multiple kids in the neighborhood,” Wood said. “It’s been great for us. It’s been a great learning experience for us. I know the kids are really enjoying it. I know the families are really enjoy us being there. We’re all going through this together.”

Last year’s home run derby raised more than $100,000 and will play a big role in Pitch In’s summer program, which kicks off this year.

“Any time you can get fans out, get a chance to get out on the field and take some hacks, it’s a pretty special day,” Wood said.

For more information or to sign up, visit Or visit for more information on the Pitch In program.

—Phil Barnes

Cubs and Wood Family Foundation celebrate the opening of Kerry Wood Cubs Field

Kerry-Wood-Cubs-FieldChicago high school and youth baseball players looking to sharpen their five tools or become the next “Kid K” in the majors now have a new baseball field on which to hone their talents.

Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Cubs Charities Board Chair Laura Ricketts, 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar and Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly attended the Kerry Wood Cubs Field grand opening and ceremonial ribbon cutting on Thursday.

The new ballpark located near Lane Tech High School on Addison Street, about a mile from Wrigley Field, is owned and operated by the Chicago Park District. The field includes seating for 1,250 spectators and fans and will be used for Chicago Public High School League baseball games, and as a potential host site for IHSA state baseball playoffs. The Park District also will make the field available for recreational leagues and use by the general public.

The Cubs, Cubs Charities, Wood Family Foundation, City of Chicago, State of Illinois, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and Turner Construction all contributed to make the ballpark project possible.

“Cubs Charities believes developing the next generation of All-Stars starts with a strong foundation in health, fitness and education,” said Cubs Charities Board Chair Laura Ricketts. “Our support of Kerry Wood Cubs Field underscores our commitment to improving the quality of life in our great city and fostering a love of baseball.”

Kerry Wood has been actively involved in the community during and after an illustrious career that included two All-Star appearances, National League Rookie of the Year honors and a share of the record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game, 20, on May 6, 1998, against the Houston Astros. Kerry and his wife Sarah formed the Wood Family Foundation in 2011. The foundation works to improve the lives of children in and around Chicago by raising funds and awareness for its children’s programs and other children’s charities they support. Their support to build Kerry Wood Cubs Field is a visible sign of their family’s commitment to Chicago youth and families.

“It’s very exciting to see Kerry Wood Cubs Field open and ready for kids to start playing baseball,” Wood said. “I am humbled by the generosity of the Chicago Cubs, Cubs Charities, City of Chicago and Chicago Park District for making this dream a reality, not only for me and my family, but for all of the youth baseball players who will have the opportunity to play at the field.”

Beyond a field of dreams for young baseball players, Kerry Wood Cubs Field will be a strong community anchor to enhance the surrounding area, increase recreational activities and improve the quality of life for Chicago residents.

“Once again, the Chicago Park District is pleased to partner with the Chicago Cubs,” Kelly said. “The new Kerry Wood Cubs Field is a great investment in the community and will further strengthen our efforts to ensure that America’s favorite pastime continues to grow in Chicago’s parks.”

Alderman Ameya Pawar praised the public-private partnership as a driving force behind the successful completion of the project.

“I’m happy to see Kerry Wood Cubs Field open at Clark Park,” Pawar said. “I’m proud of the partnership between my office and the Chicago Cubs, Wood Family Foundation, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and the Clark Park Advisory Council—together we took this idea from a concept to reality.”

“It is fantastic that a ballpark of this magnitude will be available to high school students across the city who want to develop and showcase their talents,” said Morgan Park High School baseball coach Earnest Radcliffe. “Playing at Kerry Wood Cubs Field will give these student athletes a sense of pride, especially understanding this field was named after one of the best pitchers to ever play the game.”

Following the ribbon cutting, Kerry Wood threw a ceremonial first pitch, and the field was immediately opened for community residents to enjoy. The first high school regular season game will be played in March of 2016.


From the Pages of Vine Line: Remembering 1998 – Playoff hosts

Fifteen years ago, the 1998 Cubs squad became the must-see event of the summer, as viewers around the country tuned in to WGN to see Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and the cardiac Cubs stage one of the most dramatic seasons in Chicago baseball history. Day after day, it seemed like the team was in a dogfight, and every win turned out to be vital, as the Cubs need an extra, 163rd contest to finalize their postseason push and give Chicago fans their first taste of meaningful October baseball in nearly a decade.

To commemorate all the ups and downs, Vine Line celebrates our 10 greatest moments from that historic 1998 campaign in the October issue of the magazine. Today marks the final part of the 10-part series.


(Photo by Stephen Green)

10/3/98 – The Postseason

Game 3 of the NLDS marked the end of a thrilling, roller-coaster season for the Cubs. The team returned to Wrigley Field in an 0-2 hole against the Braves in the best-of-five series, but the crowd was in a frenzy as rookie Kerry Wood squared off against future Hall of Famer and former Cub Greg Maddux in the Cubs’ first home playoff game since 1989.

The start was actually Wood’s first since Aug. 31, as he was sidelined with right elbow issues through the back half of the season.

“I rank that above the 20-strikeout game for me as far as that first year of my career,” Wood said. “It was a surreal moment for me to match up with a Hall of Famer. For me to match up, a rookie, a young kid, a 21-year-old kid at the time, matching up with Greg Maddux in the playoffs, [it was amazing].”

Though Wood’s pitch count mounted for the first few innings, he held his own, giving up three hits and one earned run on a passed ball. But as Kid K neared the 100-pitch mark after five innings, manager Jim Riggleman removed his young ace, and the Cubs couldn’t hold on, falling 6-2 to bring an end to the dramatic 1998 campaign.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Remembering 1998 – Kid K’s coming out party

Fifteen years ago, the 1998 Cubs squad became the must-see event of the summer, as viewers around the country tuned in to WGN to see Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and the cardiac Cubs stage one of the most dramatic seasons in Chicago baseball history. Day after day, it seemed like the team was in a dogfight, and every win turned out to be vital, as the Cubs need an extra, 163rd contest to finalize their postseason push and give Chicago fans their first taste of meaningful October baseball in nearly a decade.

To commemorate all the ups and downs, Vine Line celebrates our 10 greatest moments from that historic 1998 campaign in the October issue of the magazine. Today marks the second part of the 10-part series, which we’ll post here on the blog in the coming days.


(Photo by Stephen Green)

5/6/98—Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game

Kerry Wood may have been inexperienced in 1998, but what he did on May 6 against the mighty Houston Astros can’t be taught. In only his fifth major league start, facing one of the most potent offenses in baseball, Kid K made history by striking out 20 batters. His final line: 9 IP, 1 H, 20 K, 1 HBP, 0 BB.

“Honestly, I’m thinking, ‘I haven’t walked anybody yet,’ because I never pitched a game at all—the whole minor leagues—[in which] I wasn’t told, ‘You’re walking too many guys, you’re walking too many guys, you’re walking too many guys,’” Wood said.

The opposing Astros, who eventually ran away with the NL Central crown, led the NL in runs scored per game and on-base percentage that season, and they were second in batting average. Their powerful lineup boasted a pair of 1998 All-Stars in Craig Biggio and Moises Alou, as well as slugger Jeff Bagwell.

Wood’s 20 strikeouts were the most ever for an NL pitcher, and they tied Roger Clemens’ major league record. The game is now widely considered the most dominant nine-inning performance in baseball history.

1000 Words: Coach K holds court


(Photo by Steve Green)

Minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck gets some pointers from Cubs great Kerry Wood (who knows a thing or two about pitching).

Woody’s Winter Warm-Up tickets on sale now


(Art by Jerry Neumann)

Kerry Wood has spent most of his adult life honing his craft as a major league pitcher. So excuse him if he’s not a world-class bartender.

On Jan. 18, you’ll get your chance to see him in action and critique his skills as he slings drinks at the second annual Woody’s Winter Warm-Up at Harry Caray’s Tavern on Navy Pier. Starting at 8:30 p.m., Wood will join former and current Cubs players, as well as local celebrities, behind the bar, where they will compete for tips with all proceeds benefitting the Wood Family Foundation. Wood said the event is a good time, and current players like Darwin Barney, Jeff Samardzija and James Russell are expected to attend.

“People want to give back and do it for a good cause,” Wood said. “Last year … people got really into it, and it was really cool.”

At the inaugural mixer in 2012, the Grammy-nominated band Plain White T’s performed. They even got a little help from former Cub Randy Wells and baseball president Theo Epstein on a few songs. The event raised more than $85,000, thanks to about 30 current and former players, who pitched in behind the bar or simply enjoyed the evening.

But don’t count on Wood to make you the best Old-Fashioned or dirty martini of your life, as he admits this probably won’t be a new career path.

“I’m really good at taking the tops of beers off with the opener,” Wood joked. “I pour a mean glass of wine, but I’m not a mixologist.”

Tickets are on sale now and in limited supply. For more information, visit

1000 Words: Cubs family

Chicago White Sox v Chicago Cubs

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The year 2013 is almost here. Have a safe and happy New Year’s with the ones you love.

Now Playing: Cubs, Kerry Wood break ground on new field

For years, Chicago Public League baseball teams haven’t had a true home-field advantage when the high school playoffs come around. Without a serviceable field to play on, city teams have been forced to trek out to the suburbs when the single-elimination tournament starts up each May. But that’s all about to change.

The Chicago Cubs Charities and the Wood Family Foundation broke ground on Kerry Wood Cubs Field Thursday, a high school baseball diamond located at Clark Park near Lane Tech High School about a mile west of Wrigley Field. The $5 million project should be completed in the first half of 2013. The stadium will seat 1,100 people and will have lights for potential night games.

Vine Line was there for the ceremony, where former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and Cubs co-owners Tom and Laura Ricketts spoke of the excitement surrounding this new venture.

Hot Off the Presses: October Vine Line featuring the best of 2012

The Cubs’ 2012 season has been all about adjustments. Year One of the Theo Epstein regime is in the books, and despite the struggles at the major league level, the future is looking a little brighter. The Cubs took advantage of the draft and trade deadline to bolster their minor league system, but Epstein is far from complacent.

“I think we’ve made some pretty significant changes in direction as well as philosophy,” Epstein said. “It’s hard to talk about the year, though, without talking about the frustration that goes with it. We aren’t even close to where we want to be.”

One of the biggest changes late in the season has been the Cubs’ infusion of youth. Anthony Rizzo was called up on June 26 and made an immediate impact. On Aug. 5, top prospects Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters joined him on the parent club. In the October issue of Vine Line, we talk to the two good friends about their paths through the Cubs system and what they hope to accomplish at Wrigley.

“I can remember countless times just over the past couple of years, where either one of us was struggling or both of us were struggling, and we’d talk about it,” Vitters said. “I think we both know each other as a player enough that we have a decent idea of what it is the other person’s doing if they’re struggling a little bit or going through a rough patch.”

For our end-of-season issue, we also went to our blog to ask readers to help us determine the best highlights from the Cubs’ 2012 season. Despite the down year record-wise, the Cubs had a surprising amount of incredible memories, from Kerry Wood’s retirement to Ron Santo’s Hall of Fame induction to Alfonso Soriano’s bounceback year. You’ll find the results in our cover story, 12 for ’12.

Finally, we went into the booth with Len Kasper and Bob Brenly to get an inside look at what it really takes to put on a major league broadcast. If you think talking about baseball for four hours every day seems easy, think again.

For all these stories and more, subscribe to Vine Line or pick up an issue at select Chicago-area retailers. We’ve also launched a Vine Line Twitter account at @cubsvineline to keep you posted on Cubs happenings up to the minute—from Wrigley Field events like the Bruce Springsteen concert last month to all the breaking hot stove news.

Cast your vote for the best of 2012

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Santo’s induction? Rizzo’s walk-off? Kerry’s farewell? Even though this season has been a struggle in the standings, there’s been no shortage of memorable Cubs highlights. Which events from the 2012 season made you stand up and take notice? This month, Vine Line is letting you decide on the best of 2012. Cast your vote and see the results in the October issue.