It is very rare that a professional athlete gets a chance to retire on his or her terms. Kerry Wood got that chance. On May 18, the veteran righty entered a game at Wrigley Field against the rival White Sox, struck out Dayan Viciedo and strode off the field to a standing ovation and into the history books. It was a storybook ending for Wood, whose career saw its shares of ups and downs, injuries and agony, that befit Cubs Nation.
Since retiring, Wood has stayed busy, promoting of all things, a kids book he co-authored with MLB.com reporter Carrie Muscat. The book, titled “All You Can Be: Learning and Growing Through Sports,” talks to kids about the endless possibilities athletics can bring them and contains artwork by children from across Chicago. All proceeds from the book go to the Wood Family Foundation, which helps with various children’s issues in the Chicago area. What has it been like for Wood to go from fireballer to kids author?
“It has been amazing,” Wood said recently. “We wanted to find a way to reach kids and raise money for the foundation, and the book came along at the perfect time for me. We want to send the message to kids that it is OK to have balance and enjoy many sports and stay well rounded. Parents have to work with their kids and avoid burnout from one particular sport. It has to be enjoyable for them.”
While his finale is one of the few highlights of the first year of Theo Epstein’s regime in Wrigleyville, Wood remains very upbeat about the legacy being built by the current owners. “Cubs fans couldn’t have a better owner than the Ricketts Family,” he added. “They are putting in the right team to build a winner. I see the future very bright for Cubs fans in the coming years. If anyone can do it…Theo and Jed can.” As far as his time spent in the Majors, mostly in Chicago but with a stint in New York, Wood remains a Second City fan through and through. “New York was great to me. I really enjoyed by time there,” he said. “Chicago Cubs fans are very special. They are passionate and fiercely loyal. They have been behind me since I was a teenager. I owe so much to them and hopefully this book will help bring out some of the younger ones as well.”
Is broadcasting or writing in Wood’s future, now that he is an author? “Nope,” he said. “That is not in the plan. I want to work with kids and grow the foundation we have started, and the book is a great way to start.” For more on the book, check out www.triumphbooks.com/KerryWood