It’s been a whirlwind week after Saline County sat in front of their televisions watching local boy Travis Wood become a solid part of… not just baseball history, but American history. At the end of one particular day, Wood had his own parade in Bryant, signed tons of autographs and answered many media questions at his high school alma mater, and was honored with several government proclamations, including the City of Bryant naming a street after him, and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson declaring November 11th as Travis Wood Day in Arkansas. And as far as American history, when your MLB team – the Chicago Cubs in this case – goes 108 years without winning the World Series and it’s so bad that your team is thought to be cursed, that team suddenly winning it all is really one for the history books. And other books. And is it just me that predicts a feature film to come of this? There was already animated short movie reenacting the game and our boy T. Wood got a Lego action figure in it.
Travis grew up in the county and graduated from Bryant High School. He played baseball at Bryant High School, graduated in 2005 and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round of the amateur draft. He was just 18 years old.
In the winter of 2011, the Reds traded Travis to the Chicago Cubs. This year, in his fifth year with the Cubs, the team went to the World Series games versus the Cleveland Indians. It was a dramatic series – they had us all on the edge of our seats as Chicago was down 3 games to 1. They rallied to win the next two games so that the final game of the series meant everything to both teams. The last year the Indians won the Series was in 1948. For the Cubs, it was even longer – 40 years before that.
Game 7 looked like an easy take for the Cubs as they racked up runs early – the score at 6 – 3 in the 6th inning. The 7th inning drew no runs from either side. In the 8th, the Indians evened it up at 6 runs and the confidence ran from the faces of Chicago fans in the stands and the bars and here at home. The 9th inning brought no runs and on top of that, there was a rain delay. It had already been an epic game, and would be an exciting uptick in the history pages, regardless of which victor. But with the tarp being pulled onto the field and a tied score in the 9th, all of us in front of our TVs staring, not blinking, sometimes screaming, sometimes near tears… we had to wonder when it would end.
There are lots of people in these parts that will tell you that this part of the country is St. Louis Cardinals Nation. But on November 2nd, 2016, with Bryant High School graduate Travis Wood playing for Chicago in Game 7 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, the Cubs was our team. Lots of people who don’t even watch baseball were suddenly interested – sucked into the heightened drama. And on that night, in the 10th inning, the Cubs upped the tie by 2 runs, then the Indians came back with one and were on their way to another when… Just like that, Cubs pitcher Kris Bryant ended the game with a ground out. It had been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs last brought it all the way home, making them World Series Champions. All of them. And our hometown hero Travis Wood as well.
Special appreciation for this entire day goes to Shane & Debbie Broadway, the Bryant Boys and Girls Club, Arkansas & Saline County elected officials, the Bryant Fire Department in the parade and the Bryant Police Department in the parade and for pre-game security for our guests of honor (in particular Officers Cole & Crowson for assisting this reporter) and of course Travis Wood & Family! What a day – #GoCubsGo ?⚾
Video below is:
- Travis’ mom Dena Wood accepting commemorative t-shirts from the Bryant Boys and Girls Club.
- The parade from Ashley Ball Park, up Reynolds Road, and to Hornets Stadium, with Travis and wife Brittany perch atop a Bryant Fire Department truck.
- Travis signing the T. Wood Way street sign, to be placed on School Drive on the Bryant High School campus.
- Behind-the-scenes footage before Travis, his family; VFW Post 2256; the family of Hank Wyse (last pitcher to leave the mound in the last world series game for the Cubs prior to this one); Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs; Bryant City Councilmen Jerry Henson and Rob Roedel; State Senator Alan Clark; State Representatives Andy Davis, Kim Hammer and Lanny Fite; Saline County Circuit Clerk Myka Sample; Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson; Bryant Schools Athletic Director Mike Lee; and former State Senator, Speaker of the House and longtime Bryant resident Shane Broadway leading the group to the football field.
- The ceremony itself at Hornets stadium.