Editor’s note: The induction of the first group in the Bryant Athletic Hall of Honor will be held this Saturday, May 30, at Bryant High School. A reception will be held at 6:30 p.m., with the induction ceremonies commencing at 7.
Among those to be inducted is Major League pitcher Travis Wood, a former star for the Bryant Hornets and Bryant Black Sox.
There was a time when Travis Wood was known as B.J. Wood’s kid brother. Both of Jay and Dena Wood’s boys were tremendous athletes and terrific baseball players. B.J. also starred on the basketball court. Travis was also a standout on the football field.
But baseball was their first love.
Travis’ “kid brother” status gradually began to change, however. It started when he first got national notice as a member of the Bryant 15-year-old All-Stars. At the Babe Ruth World Series in Connersville, Ind., he tossed a no-hitter and struck out 17.
In high school, he was all-State each of his three seasons, 2003, ’04 and ’05. As junior, he and classmate Justin Wells led the Hornets to the State championship game. He was 11-1 with an 0.91 earned run average. Plus, he hit .325.
In a game marred by a controversial call that cost the Hornets a run or two or maybe more, they lost to North Little Rock.
That summer, the duo contributed to an American Legion team, the Black Sox, to the State finals only to have Fort Smith Kerwins win the championship with a win to force the “if” game, which they won as well.
In 2005, the Hornets appeared to be on their way back to the high school championship game only to be derailed by Sylvan Hills in an intense battle in the semifinals at Bryant High School field.
Wood was throwing fastballs in the mid-90’s. He went 8-1 that season with an 0.40 earned run average. He hit .400.
In 2004 and 2005, Wood was named the Saline County Male Athlete of the Year and the Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year. He was named to the Louisville Slugger High School All-American team after the ’05 campaign as the Louisville Slugger Player of the Year in the state.
That June he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round, the 60th player selected overall.
Wood continued to pick up honors in the Minor Leagues as he worked his way up the ladder. In 2009, he was the Southern League’s Most Outstanding Pitcher and the Reds’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
On July 1, 2010, Wood made his Major League debut for the Reds against the Chicago Cubs at historic Wrigley Field in Chicago. Thus he became the first product of the renowned baseball program in Bryant to reach the Major Leagues.
Ironically, in 2011, Wood was traded to the Cubs where he became a mainstay in the starting rotation. He posted his best year in 2013 and was named to the National League All-Star team.
Though he went 9-12 for the lowly Cubs, in 200 innings over 32 starts, he finished with a team-best 3.11 earned run average. And, at season’s end, was a finalist for the Gibby Award for Breakout Pitcher of the Year.
In 2014, his ERA ballooned to 5.03 but he still was one of the top starters for the Cubs, winning eight games.
This season, with a glut of starters on a suddenly emerging Cubs team, Wood was asked if he would move to the bullpen after seven starts and agreed to do whatever he could to help the team. Since then, he picked up his first save. In three relief appearances, he’s allowed just one run on three hits.
The lefty is currently signed to a one-year contract for $5.69 million. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2016 and, barring a long-term deal in the interim, will be a free agent in 2017.