Kerry Wood finishes career with a strikeout at Wrigley Field

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Kerry Wood wanted to make one final appearance at Wrigley Field this afternoon before announcing his retirement and it couldn’t have been scripted much better for the longtime Cub.

Wood came into a 3-2 game with one out in the eighth inning and struck out Dayan Viciedo on three pitches, the first of which was a 95-mph fastball and the last of which was a 76-mph breaking ball in the dirt that the White Sox outfielder couldn’t help but swing through.

It was pretty close to vintage Wood, or at least close enough that it was tough not to think “wait, this guy is retiring?!”

Wood, who shook the bullpen coach’s hand before coming into the game, was removed after fittingly finishing his career with a strikeout and tipped his cap to the fans giving him a standing ovation. And then his young son ran onto the field to give him a hug.

Helluva scene for a helluva career.

UPDATE: Here’s the MLB.com video of Wood’s final appearance and dramatic exit.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.