The temperature may still be dropping, but the Chicago Cubs and Hot Stove League conversation will warm up baseball fans at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at O’Donovan’s, 2100 W. Irving Park Rd. (one block west of Damen and Lincoln) on Chicago’s North Side, about one mile northwest of Wrigley Field.
My longtime syndicated baseball radio show “Diamond Gems” is making the switch to on-line video, and our first public taping will feature two guests crucial to the Cubs’ present and future: All-time favorite Kerry Wood, starting his second stint in Wrigley Field, and Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken — who has re-started the flow of position players upward to the parent club — will chat about their baseball lives in front of a live audience. Hint: get there early as seating is limited. Wood is gracious enough to engage in a short autograph session afterwards before he alights to another commitment.
Wood and Wilken will chat with me for several seven-minute segments each. A question-and-answer session with the audience will follow each guest’s taping, with fans having the chance to get on camera with their queries. I’ll also have several trivia questions with each prize being an autographed copy of my new book “When The Game Changed: An Oral History of Baseball’s True Golden Age 1969-79.”
“Diamond Gems” will be posted on flagship outlet NWI.com, the sports site of the Times of Northwest Indiana newspaper, along with RantSports.com and other on-line affiliates. The radio version, which ran on up to 40 affiliates along with NWI.com and SLRNRadioSports.com network, was presented in an hour-long format since its inception in 1994. But due to the shorter attention spans on-line these days, the video “Diamond Gems” will feature segments of around seven minutes each, sometimes longer if the subject warrants.
One baseball figure already interviewed for “Diamond Gems” includes Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who will be a regular contributor as he was for the radio version. Dempster, a noted Harry Caray mimic, already has taped a riotously funny channeling of Harry in one segment. Hall of Famer Billy Williams, marking his 50th season in the Cubs organization in 2011, also has shared his memories in five different segments taped at his Chicago west suburban home. The Chicago White Sox also will be a part of “Diamond Gems,” with animated former slugger Ron Kittle also scheduled to be a regular contributor.
Pat Brickhouse, a grand dame of Chicago sports, arranged for O’Donovan’s to be regular home for “Diamond Gems” tapings.
As Jack Brickhouse used to say, “If you’re in the neighborhood,” come on out to O’Donovan’s.