Cookies for Cleveland

Sister Mary Assumpta has supported the Indians through baked goods and her love for baseball

March 27, 2012
(NBHOF Library)

The role of fans in the game of baseball cannot be overstated.

Fans drive the game with their spirit, dedication and support (both emotional and financial) of their favorite teams and players. While we are so often reminded of the great players and personalities that have shaped the game on the field, in the front office and from the broadcast booth, it is the faithful fans who support their teams through the ups and downs that have established baseball as our nation’s pastime.

Although the City of Cleveland has no shortage of diehard baseball fans, there are certainly a few who stand out from the crowd.

Sister Mary Assumpta’s love of baseball has brought her acknowledgement in the form of media attention, appearance in a major motion picture (Major League) and an Upper Deck trading card. These were not her goals, however, when she began following the Cleveland Indians.

Helen Rachel Zabaskiewicz became Sister Assumpta as a member of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit in 1962 in Cleveland. She always loved baseball, and – after spending the first part of her career as a teacher – decided to share her love of the game with the residents of a senior center in the greater Cleveland area where she began working in the 1980s. Prior to an outing to a game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, one of the residents was hesitant about attending. She agreed to go, however, when Sister Mary Assumpta told her she would make sure that she could meet Mel Harder, the former Indians standout pitcher who was coaching the Indians at the time. Not knowing how she would keep this promise, Sister Assumpta found a door marked “authorized personnel only.” She knocked and sure enough, Mel Harder answered.

What began that day was a decades long relationship with the Indians players and personnel. Each season Sister Assumpta, her fellow sisters, as well as volunteers and residents of the Cleveland area Jennings Center, work to keep the morale of the players up by baking and delivering their “Nun Better” cookies. The cookies are loaded with secret ingredients, but mostly “love and prayers” according to Sister Assumpta.

The Indians have not advance to the World Series since 1997, but Sister Assumpta remains hopeful that a World Series championship is within reach if the team can “develop the tight family spirit they experienced back in the early 90s.” Regardless of what the 2012 season holds for the Tribe, they can expect that this diehard fan will be there with support in the form of cookies.

Julie Wilson is the manager of school programs for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum