Wilbur Wood was born on October 22, 1941 in Cambridge,Massachusetts. He was signed right out of Belmont High School in Belmont,Massachusetts in 1960 by the Boston Red Sox. He was called up to the Major Leauges in 1961. He split his time between pitching for the Red Sox and the Minor Leauges between 1961-1964 until he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He pitched for the Pirates in 1964 and 1965 before he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 1966. Up until that point in his career, his fastball and curveball had been inconsistent. This is why he could not pitch in the Major Leauges on a consistent basis.His father taught Wilbur Wood the knuckleball but it was not until 1967 that he used the knuckleball as his best pitch. Under the guidance of Hoyt Wilhelm, arguably the greatest knuckleball pitcher ever his career prospered. Almost overnight he became one of the best relievers in Major Leauge Baseball. In 1968, he pitched in a then record 88 games and was named the American Leauge's Reliever of the Year. The following year, he proved that his was success was not an aberation. He went 10-11 with a 3.01 earned run average and saved 15 games. The White Sox were so impressed by Wood's relief work that they decided to make him a starting pitcher in 1971. His career and took off once again and Wood went 22-13 with a 1.91 earned run average, 334 innings pitched,  22 complete games, and seven shutouts. In 1972, he went 24-17 with a 2.51 earned run average and pitched a scoreless streak of 27 innings. Wilbur Wood finished second for the Cy Young Award, which honors the top pitcher in the American and National Leauges. Wood led the American Leauge in games started between 1972-1975. He averaged 347 innings pitched, including a remarkable 376 innings in 1972!

Between 1971-1974,Wilbur Wood had a 90-69 record and was a remarkable record when you consider that he played for some of the terrible White Sox teams. In 1968, the year that he was the top reliever in the American Leauge, the White Sox had a record of 67-95. In 1969, they were 68-94. In 1970, they were 56-106 and in 1971, when he was runner-up in the Cy Young Award voting, they went 79-83. In 1973, he went 24-20 with a 3.46 earned run average and yet,the White Sox had a record of 77-85. Wilbur Wood's stamina and endurance can be attributed to his knuckleball. The pitch was easy on his arm and his delivery was almost effortless. On July 20,1973, his incredible stamina and endurance was put on display against the New York Yankees. He started both games of a doubleheader. He lost both games, but no pitcher has accomplished this feat since.

Wilbur Wood was one of the most popular figures in the history of Chicago sports. He was overweight and fans could relate to him as if he was their relative or best friend. that. Despite his physical physique, he consistently succeeded against Major Leauge hitters. Unfortunately, tragedy struck Wilbur Wood against the Detroit Tigers on May 9,1976. He was struck on his kneecap by a line drive by Ron LeFlore and his kneecap was shattered. Even though he worked hard to rehabilitate his knee, he was never the same dominant pitcher again. After pitching two more seasons with the White Sox, he retired after the 1978 season.

Wilbur Wood had a career record of 164-156 with a 3.24 earned average, 1,411 strikeouts, 2,684 innings pitched, 24 shutouts, 114 complete games, 297 games started, and pitched in 651 games.He was one of the last of Major Leauge pitchers to consistently pitch 300 innings per season and in fact,was the last Major Leauge pitcher to pitch at least 345 innings in a season when he pitched 359 innings in 1973. If Wilbur Wood had been able to pitch for some good teams and if his career had not been cut short,he might be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He should not be forgotten.


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