Limerick on Chicago Cubs

Steve pic

Steve with Chicago Cubs mascot.

For the Cubs 1-0-7 long years
Crying No-Series-Winner sad tears.
Yes, I live far away,
But soon on that great day
Baby Bruins will sure hear my cheers!
Steve Shoemaker (1943-2016).

Views from the Edge published Steve Shoemaker‘s Limerick on Chicago Cubs one year before his untimely death October 11, 2016. He wrote it in honor of Harry Lee Strong, another long-suffering Cubs fan.

Tonight the Cubs meet Cleveland for the 2016 World Series.

We republish it in hopes of World Series victory shouts!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 12, 2016. Updated October 24, 2016.

Limerick on Chicago Cubs

For the Cubs 1-0-7 long years
Crying No-Series-Winner sad tears.
Yes, I live far away,
But soon on that great day
Baby Bruins will sure hear my cheers!

– Steve Shoemaker (1943-2016).

Views from the Edge published Steve Shoemaker’s Limerick on Chicago Cubs one year before his untimely death October 11, 2016. He wrote it in honor of Harry Lee Strong, another long-suffering Cubs fan.

Tonight the Cubs meet Cleveland for the 2016 World Series. We republish it in hopes of World Series victory shouts!

Steve with Chicago Cubs mascot.

Steve with Chicago Cubs mascot, during trip to Wrigley Field with seminary friends Harry Lee Strong, Don Dempsey, Bob Young, Wayne Boulton, and Steve’s blogging buddy.

Last night the “Baby Bruins” had an improbable (dare we say ‘miraculous’?) come-from-behind ninth-inning victory over the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco. Now they’re one step away from the World Series.

The day after Steve’s death, I think I heard the beginning of a full-throated bass cheer from Urbana, as well as from Harry’s home in Prescott, Arizona. Two cheers for the Cubs; three cheers for Harry Lee, and four cheers for Steve!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 12, 2016. Updated October 24, 2016.

Hey Chicago, waddya say?

Long-suffering Chicago Cubs fans like Steve Shoemaker are excited about this season. The Cubs look like a serious contender in 2015. The club’s new owners have invited fans to write a new song for home games at Wrigley Field. Steve explains his contribution. “Steve Goodman in 1984 wrote ‘Go Cubs Go’.  It is sung by surprised fans after each Cub win. It does not really fit since Goodman wrote it to ENCOURAGE the Cubs. Instead of writing a new song, here is my revision of Goodman’s classic.” Click HERE for a YouTube video of Steve Goodman’s original Go Cubs Go. Here’s Steve’s new rendition:

Go Cubs Go

Baseball season’s underway
We hope ya got ready for a brand new day!
Hey Chicago waddya say?
The Cubs have gone and won today!

We’re singing:
Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

They got the power, they got the speed,
They are the best in the National League!
Well this is the year and the Cubs are real,
So join us here at Wrigley Field!

We’re singing now:
Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

Baseball time is here again–
We just saw another win!
So stomp your feet and clap your hands!
Chicago Cubs got the greatest fans!

We’re singing now:
Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

Go Cubs, go!
Go Cubs, go!
Hey Chicago, waddya say!
The Cubs have gone and won today!

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Feb. 23, 2015

Remembering Ernie Banks

There is no bigger Cub’s fan than Harry Strong. Ernie Banks – “Mr. Cub” – who died Friday night, was his hero. And Harry KNOWS baseball.  So much so that the editor of American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas [published by ABC-CLIO, LLC in 2013], invited Harry to write the entry on Ernie Banks.

Harry sent the following photograph and email to six close friends who gather annually:

I only met him once, but it’s a day I’ll never forget. In July 2004, while I was serving as interim pastor at the Morrisville Presbyterian Church in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, just across the river from Trenton, I learned that Ernie would be appearing at a Baseball Card Show in Atlantic City about two hours away and signing autographs from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. I informed Anna [Harry’s wife] that WE WERE DEFINITELY DRIVING TO ATLANTIC CITY immediately following the benediction at the 11:00 a.m. service since this might be my only chance to meet this hero whom I’d idolized since I was 10!

Traffic was heavy. The trip took longer than I’d hoped, so we did not arrive at the Card Show in Atlantic City until 2:45 p.m. I hoped and prayed Ernie would still be there, but our late arrival proved to be most fortunate if not providential. When we found Ernie and his agent in a large room behind a table, they were the only ones in the room. Apparently, all the other attendees hoping to meet him had come early and moved on to other baseball celebrities and exhibits. Apparently, all the other attendees hoping to meet him had come early and moved on to other baseball celebrities and exhibits.

Ernie and his agent greeted us warmly. I told Ernie I had grown up in the shadow of Wrigley Field before moving to Glen Ellyn in 1951. I told him that Phil Cavarretta, Cub first baseman and later Ernie’s first manager, had moved into the apartment in which my parents and I had lived after our move. I confessed that I had idolized Ernie as a child and that I owned all of his baseball cards from 1954 until his retirement in 1971. I had brought along several items of memorabilia hoping that Ernie would sign them. There was an established signing fee for each individual piece, but Ernie signed a card, ball, cap, poster, and several other items all for the price of one item.

Mr. Cub (L) & Mr. Strong (R)

Mr. Cub (L) & Mr. Strong (R)

He also consented to pose with me for a picture, which Anna snapped.

About that time, Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” began playing over the sound system in the room. Ernie and I began singing along with “Satchmo,” while Ernie’s agent took Anna by the arm and they began to waltz around the room together.

By the end of the dance it was after 3:00 p.m., so Anna and I offered our sincere thanks for their gracious welcome, their time, and Ernie’s generous signatures. As they bid us farewell, I noticed that Ernie was limping badly. I asked if the pain was in his knees and he acknowledged indeed it was. Then I told him that by age 53 I had been walking with a cane because of the pain in my right knee due to the loss of cartilage, so that I was hobbling around “bone-on bone.” BUT – I had found an orthopedic surgeon in Trenton who was willing to perform knee-replacement surgery for me at a relatively young age for such a procedure.  I told him I had been pain-free for 8 years and demonstrated for him my ability to jump up and down and squat like Jody Davis behind home plate. I urged him to give serious consideration to having the knee(s) replaced (which he later did). I’m sure he received all kinds of solicited (and unsolicited) advice regarding the procedure – but I was thrilled to learn later that indeed he had had both knees replaced and that he enjoyed many more years of more comfortable mobility on the golf course and elsewhere.

After that memorable afternoon in Atlantic City, Anna met him twice, at HoHoKam Park, the Cubs former Spring Training home in Mesa, Arizona. Both times I was too busy attempting to secure autographs from present and future Cub “stars” along the right field line before the start of the Cactus League game. (My loss.)

The first time, Anna waited patiently while Mr. Cub spent time talking with an older woman so she could greet Ernie again and remind him of our meeting a few years before in Atlantic City, when he and I had performed while she and Ernie’s agent danced to “Hello Dolly.” Ernie greeted Anna warmly, seemed to recall their earlier meeting, and signed her Cubs cap, which I am wearing as I type.

Anna’s later encounter with Ernie came a few years later when she saw him beneath the stands at HoHoKam Park. Unfortunately, that was a less pleasant meeting. Anna found Ernie disoriented and confused, attempting to make his way to the press box for an interview. After speaking with Ernie briefly, she quickly grabbed the attention of an usher who was able to assist Ernie in getting to the press box.

As a lifelong Cub fan, I will forever cherish the opportunity I had to spend a few minutes with this gifted ball player and remarkable man!

P.S. As I reread my article just now, I was struck by this quote from Ernie I’d included [in the American Sports entry]:

“When I die, I want my ashes to be spread over Wrigley Field with the wind blowing out!”

— Rev. Harry Lee Strong, H.R.  Prescott, AZ 

EDITOR”S NOTE: The Cubs have a real shot at going to the World Series this year. Perhaps, in honor of Mr. Cub, they’ll win it all in “the Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field “with the wind blowing out”.

Verse – The Chicago Shortstop Smiles in Heaven

Ernie Banks rocks a robe that’s Cubs blue.
Pennant hopes are eternal, it’s true,
Wrigley’s sky might be gray,
Mr. Cub will still say:
“It’s a beautiful day–let’s play two!”

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Jan. 25, in memory of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks.

Ernie Banks (Jan. 31, 1931 – Jan. 23, 2015), the MLB Hall of Fame shortstop affectionately known by the ever-hopeful Cubs fans of Wrigley Field as Mr. Cub, died yesterday at the age of 83.

Baseball as a Road to God

The Gathering minus Steve

The Gathering minus Steve

On Monday six seminary friends come together from Indiana, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, and Minnesota for an annual “Old Dogs’ Gathering” at our alma mater, McCormick Theological Seminary, in Chicago.

Years ago four of us cut Professor Boling’s Hebrew class to take our homiletics (i.e., preaching) professor, Herb King, to the Opening Day Cubs game at Wrigley Field. We were VERY serious students!

In preparation for this year’s annual gathering, we’ve been reading John Sexton’s marvelous book, Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game, and we’ll return to Wrigley Field where two of the Old Dogs’ hearts are perpetually broken. Steve Shoemaker, one of the Old Dogs, sent this to us this morning.

Seminary Reunion

Here we would each learn to preach
a sermon–going from the Greek,
Hebrew, to the common speech
of folks today. Here we would seek
answers to all questions: old,
or new, conundrums from a child,
screams of pain from a grey head
that’s waiting for a grave. Reviled
scorned, by former college friends
who now run businesses, our mild
Biblical response pretends
to follow One who like a lamb
went to the slaughter. We damn
ourselves in not forgiving them.

This year we lost one of the original seven old friends, Dale Hartwig, who grew old too soon and faster than the rest of us. John Sexton reminds us of the difference between beginnings and endings, and the need for a vantage point:

“While the teams and players on the field may change each autumn, the game’s evocative power is continuous. Opening Day in the spring and the World Series in the fall are the bookends of baseball’s liturgical time…. Vantage point is critical.”

Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game, Penguin Group, NY, NY, 2013.

Everyone should be so blessed as to have friends like these and a vantage point of continuing thanksgiving.

April Fools’ Day and Chicago Cubs Fans

There’s nothing worse than being a Cub’s fan. No fans are more loyal. But the Cubs always find a way to disappoint.

Annually…on Opening Day…hope is re-born. But by the end of every season Cubs fans are singing a stanza of Isaac Watts’ hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”: “Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.”

Today, the Cubs’ Opening Day is also April Fools’ Day!

Verse — Opening Day, 2013

Our starting pitcher goes for 8
innings without a run. His first
at bat, our first baseman will hit
a home run on the very first
pitch thrown. Our relievers will try
to lose the game–but a pop fly
will strand their runners–yes! We cheer!
A win! THIS WILL BE THE CUBS’ YEAR!

– Steve Shoemaker, Cubs fan, Urbana, IL
(In honor of Harry Lee Strong, also cursed)