Cubs great Kerry Wood comes to Naperville to talk about his new book for kids
By David Sharos For The Sun December 11, 2012 8:14PM
Chicago Cub great, Kerry Wood, greets fans during his autograph session at Anderson's Bookshop on Wednesday, December 11, 2012 in Naperville IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Wood talks writing, the Cubs’ future
Former Chicago Cubs pitching star Kerry Wood appeared in Naperville Tuesday night to promote his first book, a children’s inspirational work entitled “All You Can Be: Learning & Growing Through Sports. “
Wood spoke exclusively with The Sun before appearing at Anderson’s Bookshop about being an author, as well as the current state of the Cubs.
Q: It’s kind of unusual to go from being a major league pitcher to being a children’s writer. What made you jump into the book business?
A: “This was something I started on before I retired. We had just launched our foundation and the fact that I got to have some Chicago Public School kids illustrate the book was really cool. I did the writing the whole summer along with Carrie Muskat, an MLB reporter. We talked about life and it turned into a positive story for kids to read, dealing with adversity and how important it is to be part of a team.”
Q: Have you ever done any other writing before?
A: “Never. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be part of something like this. It was a cool process and we’d be traveling on the road and get to the stadium an hour and a half ahead of time and Carrie and I would just talk about experiences and ideas.”
Q: What do you think was more challenging, becoming a major league baseball player or writing a kids’ book?
A: “Probably becoming a major league baseball player, but I could figure that out on my own as I was given a God-given talent. The writing was tough as well as trying to figure out what was relevant to a book for the age group you are trying to reach and what wasn’t, and how you could spin something into a lesson or a life lesson. But as things started coming out, we didn’t have to change a whole lot.”
Q: Do you think the story is strong enough that if you weren’t who you are there would still be a market for it?
“A: Probably not, but again that’s taking advantage of the platform you’ve got with the foundation and what we’re trying to do which is to help kids, and it was all targeted for the same thing. There are millions of more interesting and more uplifting stories than mine, but if there are Cubs fans out there and they want to grab the book and read it for their kids, I’ve gotten great feedback about those who have read it to their children.”
Q: Speaking of the Cubs, how are you connected with them these days?
A: “I used to play for them, but there is nothing yet. I feel like I will be involved and support the upper management there. I think they have their hands full but they’re going to do a great job.”
Q: Are you supporting the slow building process they are trying to go through?
A: “Well I think it looks slow from a big league standpoint when you’re looking at the major league team, but I think things have moved quite a bit and there has been a lot of changes already from the behind the scenes side. They have a plan and I think we’ve been patient over 100 years and I say if they have to start this thing over from scratch we have to be patient and let these guys do that.”
Q: What’s next? Do you have any plans for another book?
A: “No plans on another book.”
It took quite a bit to do it a couple of summers ago and there is the work of the foundation. I’m plenty busy for a guy who is retired right now.”
Updated: January 13, 2013 6:21AM
The Chicago Cubs’ 2012 season is already well in the rearview mirror, but Tuesday night it was raining Cubbie blue in Naperville.
The Cubs’ Kerry Wood used to play good old country hardball as he mowed down batters. But Tuesday, Wood appeared in Naperville with a new pitch as he drew a slew of Cubs’ fans to Anderson’s Bookshop where the baseball legend was promoting his first children’s book, “All You Can Be: Learning & Growing Through Sports.”
Peter Kobs and his son Peter Jr., 13, were on hand looking for the big right-hander to sign the book that both felt “was a fantastic thing for kids.”
“Kids need role models and I’ve always felt Kerry was a good, positive person in baseball,” the elder Kobs said. “I have a special needs son myself, and having Kerry doing things for kids hits the right nerve for me.”
Peter Jr. said he had met one major league player before after he won a contest and was allowed to walk onto Wrigley Field.
“This book shows kids what being a player is about and it connects with them,” he said.
Wood and his wife Sarah enlisted the help of some Chicago Public School kids who helped illustrate the book, along with co-author and MLB writer Carrie Muskat. Wood said profits from the sale of the book will be used to support the Wood Family Foundation, which is looking to provide opportunities for kids in four Chicago-area neighborhoods.
More than 140 people were issued numbers for the autograph session, but as usual, there were dozens more in the store waiting for Wood to sign autographs. Wood appeared relaxed in a sweater and jeans as folks queued up and waited their turn. Naperville’s Tessa Kucharski, 10, and her older sister Marissa, 11, each said Wood’s book about fulfilling dreams resonated with them. Both girls said they wanted to grow up and be singers.
“My dad talks about the Cubs all the time,” Tessa said. “I believe you can reach your dreams and mine is to be a singer.”
“I like that the book is being used for a good cause,” Marissa added.
Jessica Walsh of Aurora said she came to the store Tuesday night along with her husband and stepson, who is being raised as a Cubs’ fan by his father.
“I think it’s good that athletes can be role models for kids and I’m looking forward to showing the book and talking about this event tomorrow with my seventh-grade class,” Walsh said, who is a teacher in School District 204. “When I told my class I was going to see Kerry Wood tonight, they were very excited.”
Some fans admitted the draw to see the former Cubs’ star was so strong, they would have even braved typical winter weather if they had to. Rhonda Stepp of Willow Springs said she would have driven to Naperville in a snowstorm if necessary.
“Nothing would have stopped me or my husband,” Stepp said. “I’m obsessed about the Cubs. I have a whole room that is filled with nothing but Cubs’ stuff.”
Stepp admitted that Ryne Sandberg was her all-time favorite player, but that Wood was right up there with the players she had followed.
“I even liked him even when he pitched for New York,” Stepp said Tuesday night. “I think the photos in the book are neat, and I like the fact that there are drawings in here done by kids in the Chicago schools. It’s great to see someone like this giving back to the community.”