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Wilbur Wood
Born: October 22, 1941 (1941-10-22) (age 68)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Batted: Right Threw: Left 
MLB debut
June 30, 1961 for the Boston Red Sox
Last MLB appearance
August 28, 1978 for the Chicago White Sox
Career statistics
Win-Loss record     164-156
Earned run average     3.24
Strikeouts     1,411
Career highlights and awards

Wilbur Forrester Wood, Jr. (born October 22, 1941 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) is a former knuckleball pitcher in Major League Baseball for the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, and most notably the Chicago White Sox, where he got 163 of his 164 wins. He threw left-handed, and batted right-handed.


Career overview

In 1960, Wood was signed out of Belmont, Massachusetts high school by the Red Sox. He pitched on-and-off for them for a few seasons before being traded to the Pirates in late September 1964. After two seasons with Pittsburgh, he was traded to the White Sox after the 1966 season. When he arrived, knuckleball master Hoyt Wilhelm advised him to use his knuckleball exclusively. Taking Wilhelm's advice, Wood's career took off, first as a reliever, and then as a starter. With the White Sox, Wood became well known as a durable workhorse, and one of the last pitchers to consistently throw well over 300 innings in a season.

As a reliever In 1968, Wood set the major league record (since broken) of 88 games pitched in a season. He converted to starting pitcher in 1971, and continued to display unusual durability. During the years 1971-74, Wood averaged 45 games started and 347 innings pitched, winning a total of 90 games, while losing 69. He led the American League in games started in each year from 1972 through 1975, and he was the league leader in both wins and innings pitched in 1972 and 1973. Wood finished second in the 1972 voting for the Cy Young Award, losing a very close vote to Gaylord Perry.

In a 17-season career, Wood compiled a 164-156 record with a 3.24 ERA. He had 1411 strikeouts in 2684 innings pitched. He compiled 24 shutouts and 114 complete games in 297 games started. He pitched in 651 games. He was also the last pitcher in American League history to win and lose 20 or more games in the same season (24-20 in 1973).

Wood's resilience, which was attributed to the less stressful nature of the knuckleball delivery, led to some unusual feats of endurance. On May 28, 1973, while pitching for the White Sox against the Cleveland Indians, Wood pitched the remainder of a 21-inning carryover game that had been suspended two nights earlier, allowing only two hits in five innings to earn the victory. He then started the regularly scheduled game and pitched a four-hit complete game shutout, earning two wins in the same night. Later that season, on July 20, Wood started both ends of a doubleheader, making him the last pitcher to do so.[1] He lost both of those games.

Wood was seriously injured in a game against the Detroit Tigers in Tiger Stadium, May 9, 1976, when Ron LeFlore, the Tigers' center fielder, hit a vicious line drive back toward the mound. The ball struck Wood's left knee forcibly, shattering his kneecap. He had surgery the next day, but the outlook was bleak. Many predicted that he would never pitch again, but after considerable rehabilitation, he did some pitching for two more seasons with the White Sox. Unfortunately, in spite of a courageous effort, he showed few signs of his former mastery. He retired in 1978, moving back to his native New England.


  • In a 6-1 loss to the California Angels, on September 10, 1977, Wood hit three consecutive batters in the first inning, tying a record set by Dock Ellis. C. J. Nitkowski later accomplished the same feat in 1998.


See also


  1. ^ Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p. 136, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0

External links

Preceded by
Mickey Lolich
American League Wins Champion
(1972 with Gaylord Perry)
Succeeded by
Catfish Hunter & Ferguson Jenkins


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