Wilbur Forrester Wood Jr.
- Bats Right, Throws Left
- Height 6' 0", Weight 180 lb.
- High School Belmont (MA) High School
- Debut June 30, 1961
- Final Game August 22, 1978
- Born October 22, 1941 in Cambridge, MA USA
" . . . he wasn't overjoyed in the beginning to be made a starter." - manager Chuck Tanner, who turned Wood into a starter in 1971 after he had saved 21 in 1970
One of the few knuckleballing left-handers, Wilbur Wood was one of the great workhorses of the 1970s, hurling more than 290 innings each year from 1971 to 1975 for the Chicago White Sox. In 1972, Wood made 49 starts in a season shortened by a work stoppage. In a full season, Wood easily would have made 51 or 52 starts. Interestingly, Ed Herrmann was the starting catcher for all of Wood's starts in 1972; Herrmann was particularly adept at catching the knuckleball, and the 49 starts by a battery that year are the most in the 20th century. One has to go back to the 1884 Baltimore Orioles to find a higher total, with Hardie Henderson and Sam Trott making up the tandem.
Wood originally came up with the 1961 Boston Red Sox, the same year that Carl Yastrzemski came up. Wood was 19 at the time, two years younger than Yaz. He made his first baseball card appearance in the 1964 Topps set.
Wood broke the record for the most games pitched in 1968 with a total of 88 (broken the next year). He was second in the American League with 16 saves that year. He didn't become primarily a starter until 1971, when he started his four-year string of 20+ win seasons. He led the AL in games pitched from 1968 to 1970 as a reliever, and then in games started from 1972 to 1975. Wood was second in the league in ERA in 1971 and led the league in wins in 1972 and 1973.
He pitched six seasons in the minors, going 15-11 in 1962, 15-8 in 1964 and 14-8 in 1966.
Wood holds several "last" distinctions:
- He was the last pitcher to make at least 45 starts in a season. The last to reach 50 was Jack Chesbro, with 51 in 1904.
- He was the last pitcher to pitch at least 345 innings in a season.
- He was the last pitcher to start two games in a day (July 20, 1973 at New York: he lost both games, which perhaps explains why it has not been tried since).
- 3-time AL All-Star (1971, 1972 & 1974)
- AL Reliever of the Year Award Winner (1968)
- 2-time AL Wins Leader (1972 & 1973)
- 3-time AL Games Pitched Leader (1968-1970)
- 2-time AL Innings Pitched Leader (1972 & 1973)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 5 (1971-1975)
- 20 Wins Seasons: 4 (1971-1974)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 5 (1971-1975)
- 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 4 (1971-1974)
- 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (1971)