CHICAGO -- A moment-to-moment sketch of how Kerry Wood's last day in the major leagues unfolded Friday at Wrigley Field:
News spreads early in the morning of it likely being the veteran Chicago Cubs reliever’s last day in the major leagues. While whispers of his pending retirement actually started to circulate Thursday night, the first confirmation came when Wood’s wife updated her Facebook status. “Every story has an end but in life every ending is just a new beginning,” the post read.
The Cubs media relations staff says Wood will not talk to the media before the game.
More information of Wood’s retirement plans are revealed, including the fact that he wants to make one more outing before calling it a career. The word is that Wood won’t be used in a situation he hasn’t been used in this season, meaning that his final outing could come later in the series.
Wood’s young son is a constant presence at his father’s side all morning, first in the clubhouse then out on the field as the Cubs began to stretch and take batting practice.
Wood, his son and some players could be seen at the top of the center field bleachers during batting practice, taking in the view from beneath the scoreboard. Wood even takes his son inside the scoreboard for a peek.
Wood stays close to his son in the outfield during batting practice. It seems like a wholesome father-son moment, and while that is true, the pitcher had other reasons for staying so close. “I didn’t want him to be hit in the face on the last day,” he said, drawing a laugh.
Wood brings out the Cubs’ lineup card to the umpires before the game.
Wood gets up and plays catch down in the bullpen with James Russell in the early innings. Just some light tosses to get loose and then he sits back down.
Manager Dale Sveum is ejected in the fifth inning for arguing a call at second base.
Wood and Russell begin warming up side by side before the top of the eighth inning.
The White Sox’s Gordon Beckham hits a home run off Jeff Samardzija to give his team a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning. Wood is called out of the bullpen by acting manager Jamie Quirk to relieve Samardzija, with many in the crowd of 34,937 giving him a standing ovation.
Wood makes quick work of White Sox slugger Dayan Viciedo, who will become the answer to this particular trivia question. Wood finishes off the three-pitch strikeout with his patented curveball.
Quirk finishes off his role in an iconic Chicago sports moment when he comes out to remove Wood from a game for the last time. Wood walks off the field to a standing ovation and before he gets to the dugout his son rushes onto the field to embrace him. Wood walks down the steps of the dugout as a player one last time, carrying his son in his arms.
Wood takes a curtain call from the fans and returns back to the dugout. He said afterward that because of the emotions of the moment he was unable to speak to his teammates for five minutes.
Shortly after the 3-2 defeat to the White Sox is completed, Wood confirms that he is indeed retiring: “I was fortunate enough to play this game for a long time and play in a wonderful city in front of the best fans in baseball. It was just time."