I was remiss yesterday in not remarking on the ten-year anniversary of Kerry Wood’s 20-strike out game. Sports trivia, to be sure, but also — let us not mince words — one of the greatest individual performances in the history of baseball, a game with an epic and obsessively quantified statistical history. It is, arguably, the single most dominant display of pitching.
For perspective, consider this: He faced 29 batters and defeated 20 of them with strikeouts. No one else has ever done that, despite many thousands of attempts. This happened in the fifth game of his rookie season. Ten years later, Kerry Wood’s career has been marred by physical misfortune and failure, which makes his long-ago achievement all the more poignant.
On a personal level, this event is interesting because I absolutely remember it as if I had watched the game on TV. The memory is as determinate as could be in my mind. The facts, however, make my viewership vanishingly unlikely: May 6, 1998 was a Wednesday, my mom’s birthday, and the game started at 1:20pm. I must have been at high school, right? But I would swear on the memory!