In preparation for throwing out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday at Wrigley Field, Bears coach Matt Eberflus turned to an expert for advice.
Former Chicago Cubs star pitcher Kerry Wood met with Eberflus Friday at Halas Hall to offer some pointers and evaluate the coach's throwing motion.
"His coaching was excellent," Eberflus said, "in terms of being smooth, take a deep breath before you do it, soak it in, enjoy the moment, and then just [throw] it in there. It was really good advice."
Known for his attention to detail as a football coach, Eberflus has applied the same approach in preparing to step on the mound before Saturday's Cubs-Pirates game. He set up a pitching rubber and home plate 60 feet 6 inches apart at Halas Hall—even raising the mound 12 inches—and has practiced throwing daily.
Wood was impressed with the form he saw from Eberflus Friday.
"He did great," Wood said. "I could tell he's been working at it. Everyone that throws the first pitch always gets so nervous about bouncing the ball, but not many get to practice it at a facility where they can set up a mound 60 feet 6 inches away and actually work on it. I know he's worked hard at it and he should do fine tomorrow."
Friday marked the first time that Wood has visited Halas Hall. Now 44, Wood played 12 of his 15 major league seasons in two stints with the Cubs from 1998-2008 and 2011-12.
"It was fun," Wood said. "It was a cool little thing to come out and work with and talk with coach, and get to meet him and talk a little bit about the football season coming up and about tomorrow's first pitch."
Eberflus is also slated to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch, the latest in a series of guest conductors the Cubs have employed since legendary broadcaster Harry Caray passed away in 1998.
Eberflus will attend Saturday's game with his family as well as his entire coaching staff. He's eager to visit Wrigley Field, which was the Bears' home for 50 seasons from 1921-70 before they relocated to Soldier Field.
"It's a special place, and just to me because of the Chicago Bears history at Wrigley Field, is just truly amazing," Eberflus said. "I'm excited to look at that venue to see exactly where the Bears played and where that great history was at."
Former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood was at Halas Hall Friday working with Matt Eberflus to help prepare the Bears head coach to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field on Saturday afternoon.