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Kerry Wood’s ‘Warm-Up’ a hot ticket

Kerry Sarah Wood “Woody’s Winter Warm-Up” Harry Caray’s Navy Pier.

Kerry and Sarah Wood at “Woody’s Winter Warm-Up” at Harry Caray’s on Navy Pier.

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Updated: February 18, 2012 8:12AM

Mere hours after the announcement of his re-signing with the Chicago Cubs, perennially popular pitcher Kerry Wood, along with his wife Sarah, welcomed friends, colleagues and fans to the “Woody’s Winter Warm-Up” celebrity mixer to benefit the Wood Family Foundation.

Players including Randy Wells and Ryan Dempster, Cubs co-owners Todd and Tom Ricketts and newly appointed President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein also took a break from last weekend’s Cubs Convention to help out at the event, held Friday night at Harry Caray’s on Navy Pier. Epstein, looking casual in jeans, even treated the crowd to an impromptu performance with the evening’s headliners, Plain White T’s, as he joined them on guitar for a cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

Past and present Chicago Bears, including Otis Wilson, Richard Dent and Israel Idonije, acted as celebrity bartenders, mixing up cocktails and chatting with excited fans. Other famous faces spotted were Dutchie Caray; Ryan Chiaverini of “Windy City Live” (who was the evening’s emcee) with his co-host, Val Warner, and Cubs manager Dale Sveum.

Following a toast to the late Ron Santo, Wood spoke briefly — resulting in whoops and cheers from the crowd — regarding his one-year, $3 million contract with the Cubs, saying, “There was only one offer that counted. I’m glad to be back in Chicago, and I’ve got a lot of baseball left.”

Benefit tickets started at $150 per person, while those with deeper pockets shelled out $1,000 for tables of four. The inaugural event proved to be a whopping success, raising more than $85,000 for the Wood Family Foundation and the numerous local children’s charities that it serves.

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