Miller: Revisiting Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game

From Sam Miller at Baseball Prospectus on March 18, 2014:

The greatest nine-inning game by any starter was thrown by a 20-year-old who entered the outing with a 5.89 ERA in his four career starts, a career minor-league walk rate of 6.8 per nine, a career minor-league ERA of 3.91, and no complete games at any professional level. It came against the league’s best offense. The game was called by a catcher who had never caught the pitcher before, it was nearly interrupted by a rain delay that would have ended the pitcher’s afternoon in the seventh, it is infamous for a third-inning decision by the official scorer, and it’s notorious for the deleterious effect that its cumulative toll might have had on the pitcher who threw it. It also might very nearly have cost an umpire his life, though thankfully it didn’t.

Thanks to’s beefed up historical archives, the 20-strikeout game thrown by Kerry Wood—with a game score of 105, the highest ever—is now available to watch in full online. So far, only 22,729 people have watched it, which seems low. That’s fewer, for instance, than the 26,000 people that Wood once joked have told him they were at the game. (The actual crowd, announced at 15,000, was most likely around 11,000.) I was the 22,730th to watch it on YouTube, and it’s a fascinating start. Wood is, in many ways, more dominant than I had expected. And the brilliance of the start is, in many ways, more ambiguous than I had expected it to be.

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Originally published: March 18, 2014. Last Updated: March 18, 2014.