Nuns bearing cookies means baseball's back

Sister Assumpta and the Sisters of the Holy Spirit in Garfield Heights, Ohio, bake cookies for their beloved Cleveland Indians.

Sister Assumpta and the Sisters of the Holy Spirit in Garfield Heights, Ohio, bake cookies for their beloved Cleveland Indians.

CBS News

A “good habit” is one you wouldn’t want to break - and fortunately for the sports fans in one big league city, there’s absolutely no reason to. Bill Geist takes us out to the ball game:

Baseball is in the air, and when those gates unlatch on opening day, faithful fans are in heaven.

The vision of Sister Mary Assumpta bearing chocolate chip cookies means baseball is nigh in Cleveland.

She is probably better known than most of the players on this very young and unheralded team.

She has appeared in cameos in the film “Major league,” as a special contributor to CBS News, and even has her own baseball card!

Sister Assumpta and the Sisters of the Holy Spirit in nearby Garfield Heights, Ohio, have been baking cookies for the Indians since 1984, when the team was in the doldrums and needed a lift.

“We put different secret ingredients in,” Sister Assumpta explained to Geist while baking up a batch: “For the pitchers, we have strikeouts. For the hitters, we have homeruns.”

Former Indians All-Star, now coach Sandy Alomar accepts them for the team.

“They’re magic!” he said.

“It’s the love that goes into them - that’s really the secret ingredient,” said Sister Assumpta. “When they get homemade cookies, they know that somebody cares.”

The Sisters care . . . for their Indians, yes, but more so for the hundreds of residents of the Jennings Center for Older Adults.

The cookies have become as famous as Sister Mary Assumpta, and are now sold on the Internet as “Nun Better Cookies” . . . with proceeds going to the center.

The nuns now bake nine cookie varieties in the convent across the street . . . tens of thousands a year . . . so many that Sister Mary Assumpta had rotator cuff surgery (just like major league pitchers!).

But never mind the injury - the nun is ready for the new season.

“I am back in the lineup,” she told Geist. “And I can bake with the best of them. But I can also root with the best of ‘em. I don’t have any problem going, Go Tribe!

The nuns’ cookies lifted the Indians to two World Series in the Nineties, but just haven’t been enough lately.

“You know, it’s as with anything, God helps those who help themselves,” Sister Assumpta said. “And if they’re not playing up to their potential, I could feed them tons of cookies and it wouldn’t make any difference.

“They’ve gotta do their part, too!” she laughed.

Of course she prays for the Indians, too - and how!

“What I pray is that they do their best, ‘cause if they do their best, they’re gonna win,” she said. “They’re good guys. They’ve got talent.”

Fingering her beads at the game, she told Geist she can get very specific: balls, strikes, RBIs.

She was joined at the home opener last Monday by 92-year-old Sister Mary Philomena, a rabid fan since 1935.

At the souvenir stand they picked up a yearbook, a scorecard, and two pencils.

They applauded as the 2010 Cleveland Indians took to the field.

The home opener got off to a great start with an Indians home run.

But, as in life, there were ups and downs . . . the game was tied going into the ninth inning.

“Is it OK to pray for the other team to strike out?” Geist asked.

God answers all prayers, Sister Mary Assumpta explained, but the answer isn’t always “yes.”

He was evidently listening to the Texas Rangers, who scored two runs in the top of the 10th.

“Ball game’s over,” Sistem Assumpta said, throwing up her hands in resignation. “But it was a great opening day!”

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