Ryan McGuffey has almost lost track of all the production hats he’s worn the past 15 years behind the camera at Comcast Sports Net Chicago and predecessor Fox Sports Chicago.
Never, though, has the fit been as good for Portage native McGuffey, 34, as for his exhausting role co-producing “5 Outs,” an acclaimed 90-minute documentary on the star-crossed 2003 Cubs.
“5 Outs” premiered on Oct. 15, the 10th anniversary of the Cubs’ National League Championship Series Game 7 knockout loss to the Marlins that thwarted yet another World Series bid.
And never have McGuffey and 13-time Emmy Award winner Sarah Lauch, who both hunkered down in an editing bay into the wee hours crafting “5 Outs,” ever been honored so quickly for their work.
Along with on-air talent Dave Kaplan, also a co-producer, McGuffey and Lauch have received the Jerome Holtzman Award for excellence in chronicling Chicago baseball history, recognizing their work on “5 Outs.”
McGuffey will be the second Region product picking up an award at the Pitch and Hit Club’s Jan. 26 annual banquet in Lombard. Free-agent outfielder Curtis Granderson of Lynwood, a T.F. South graduate, will receive the Paul “Dizzy” Trout Ambassador Award for his philanthropic work.
Some 12 to 13 hours of interviews and highlights were relayed to McGuffey and Lauch, who put in up to 15-hour days to finish the show.
“When you dive in, especially in (10- or 20-year) anniversary dates, you find out there’s even more history, there’s more stories that you didn’t know going in,” McGuffey said.
“For me, that was kind of the goal going into ‘5 Outs’ was. Let’s tell people something they don’t know. Everyone knows how it ended. Everyone knows they were five outs away (from the World Series) in Game 6.”
Doing such a show a couple of years after the fact would not have provided the perspective only the passage of time permitted. A decade later, the major participants on the Cubs and Marlins opened up like they could not have earlier.
“Early on in the process, within three or four interviews, I knew we had something. This was before we got the key, pivotal people.”
McGuffey is used to going the extra mile and putting in late-night — even all-night — schedules to get his job done.
As dawn broke on the morning of June 25, a sleepless McGuffey raced to beat the Kennedy Expressway rush-hour traffic to bring tape to CSN Chicago of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup celebration at Harry Caray’s restaurant in Rosemont.
The partying Hawks had just gotten off their plane from Boston, where they had won the title the night before. The CSN Chicago crews were still in Boston. No truck was available to transmit the tape back from Harry Caray’s, so McGuffey did an old-school, high-speed video courier routine.
The dash was nothing he wouldn’t have done before in TV or on the football field. McGuffey was once a prep wide receiver and punt returner.
“I took one to the house against Valpo,” he said of his best return.
He also knows how to hang in there in the vagaries of the business. McGuffey had just been hired full-time at Fox Sports Chicago in 2001. Then he was laid off in the post-9/11 slump. He couldn’t be kept down. One month later, he was back on the job.
Working in his home market his entire career has pleased McGuffey’s family, now living in the Chesterton area. His wife, Candace, is also a Portage native.
Dreams come true, and now they come with awards.
“I think I knew from the time I was 4-years-old I wanted to be in television,” he said.