KANSAS CITY -- D-backs broadcaster Mark Grace was a teammate of Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood from 1998 to 2000, and on the last day of Wood's career, Grace had nothing but good things to say about the pitcher he played with for three seasons on the North Side of Chicago.
"He was a great teammate. He cared. He was very professional," Grace said. "The only thing with Woody -- you wish: 'What might have been had that incredibly gifted right arm not gotten hurt so much?' He was one of my favorite teammates. I had a lot of them, but Kerry was a guy that I hung out with a lot, spent a lot of time with. I attended his wedding in Hawaii. He's a guy that will always be special to me."
Wood pitched in his final game on Friday against the White Sox at Wrigley Field, striking out the only batter he faced in the eighth inning. The strikeout of Dayan Viciedo was a fitting way to end a career highlighted by so many K's, including the game in which he struck out 20 Astros in his rookie season of 1998. Grace played first base during that memorable game.
"It's the best performance I ever played behind," Grace said. "I never played behind a no-hitter or a perfect game. The final score of that game was 2-0. It was the biggest 2-0 blowout in the history of baseball. You just knew there was no way the Houston Astros were going to score a run. That wasn't a [bad] lineup he did that to, too. It was [Craig] Biggio, [Jeff] Bagwell, Derek Bell, Moises Alou -- those really good Astros teams that could rake. It wasn't a bad lineup at all. It was a really good lineup full of All-Stars. That was what stood out. Poor [Houston starter] Shane Reynolds gave up two runs and never had a chance."
Grace was happy that it wasn't yet another injury or the lack of a job that ended Wood's career.
"I'm glad he got to do it his way," Grace said. "A lot of players don't get to end their career on their terms. Kerry did. He got to end his career the way he wanted to end it and for that he's very fortunate."