Kerry Wood was the American Dream

Once upon a time there was a young pitcher from the state of Texas who took the baseball world by storm.

He stood tall and had poise on the mound.  He had a lightening-quick fastball that made most batters silly. He had a curveball that buckled knees.

He was a proud American.  He was a Cub.  He was the future of baseball.  He also was the poster boy for the Bowman Chrome hype machine.

Meet our good friend Kerry Wood.  Oh, you laugh all you want.  If you were a card collector in 1998, you know all about Kerry Wood.  You wanted a piece of his Chrome rookie, and to own the card you see pictured here, the International Refractor (aka. THE Kerry Wood rookie card), was only a dream. The desire of many to own a Wood drove the price of packs — and ultimately every other card in the set — through the roof.

While Wood could not live up to the legacy that he seemed to be building with his seam-throwing rocket launcher of a right arm, his impact on the hobby will not be forgotten.  And it is the memories of what could have been that has kept this card in the minds of many collectors.

On another note, the aesthetics of this card alone make this a must own.  Topps really nailed the design of the “International” flavor with this parallel set, something I think the company has struggled to recapture over the last 14 years.  I just don’t feel the newer parallels which feature a map-like background with the hometown of the player pinpointed.  These 1997 cards featuring the flag of the players’ national country of origin give the owner a sense of pride. And when they are displayed as a refractor, they are simply gorgeous. Just look how awesome that American Flag looks today, Independence Day 2011.

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