Sports

Interview: An evening with Kerry Wood at the barber shop

Before making the final media rounds to promote his “Woody’s Winter Warm-Up” benefit, the Cubs’ Kerry Wood stood in the waiting area of the posh 316 Club Barber Spa last week — where he would receive a haircut and shave — and gave me a reality check on his famous 20-strikeout performance. The 34-year-old pitcher pointed out that his record-tying outing that felt like it wasn’t that long ago was actually much longer ago than I thought: 14 years ago, to be exact.

“We’re getting old,” said Wood, a mug of beer in hand.

He’s right. We aren’t as young as we used to be. Young Kerry Wood probably wouldn’t have cleaned up his appearance for the cameras. This is the same guy who said his wife never saw his chin for the first six years of their relationship.

These days, however, Wood has no problem sporting a clean-cut look. Sure, he’s currently sporting a goatee, which 316 Club’s Carmelo Preiti would clean up with a straight razor, but it’s nowhere as unkempt as it used to be.

“(I shave) usually when it starts to looks like yours,” Wood said of my stubble, once seated in his barber chair. “Probably every four or five days. My kids complain when it gets scruffy.”

As for the beer — courtesy of the bar located in the Loop barbershop — Wood added that he drinks far less than he used to. He attributes this to age as well.

“I can’t do it anymore,” Wood said. “Recovery takes two or three days. Although I was out for New Year’s (Eve). … We went to a neighbor’s house. I hadn’t seen 2 a.m. in several years.”

Wood won’t have to down drinks at his Wood Family Foundation benefit Friday at Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier, but he and many of his teammates will be serving them. The event will also include a performance by “Hey There Delilah” band Plain White T’s and an appearance by the man who could determine whether Wood returns to the Cubs this season: team president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

When does Wood expect to receive word about his future?

“Probably when spring training starts next month,” Wood said. “I’d like to (have gotten) word a couple weeks ago.”

Regardless of what happens, Wood plans on keeping his family in the Chicago area. It’s where his wife is from and where he’s comfortable. He has a restaurant in Old Town where he takes his family every week because “the kids can throw (stuff) everywhere,” and he has a bar in Lincoln Park where he watches sports on Mondays because there is rarely anyone there.

Once Preiti was done cutting Wood’s hair, which Wood said was 10 days overdue, Wood mentioned that Preiti — who famously cut Patrick Kane’s mullet during the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup run — had to cut his hair multiple times before he trusted him to shave his face with a straight razor.

Wood wasn’t always so cautious.

He blew out the engine in his Dad’s truck doing “doughnuts” in a muddy baseball field his junior year of high school. “I worked at a little grocery store stocking shelves to pay it off,” Wood said. He also pierced his ear himself with a needle his senior year of high school. “It didn’t last long,” Wood said. “My Dad said, ‘If I see (an earring) again, I’m going to rip it out.”

The conversation turned into a kids-these-days discussion because, as Wood previously pointed out, we’re getting old. Wood said he wishes piercings were the least of his worries now as a father of three.

“Now 12-year-olds are coming home all tatted up,” he said.

And then there’s the music. Wood listens to classic rock and refuses to give in to his kid’s music preferences.

“Mine are young enough,” he said, “where I can still force them to listen to my music.”

Hey, it’s one of the perks of being older.

Twitter @aboutluisgomez

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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