Cub’s visit just what doctor ordered for sick kids
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org January 17, 2014 6:04PM
Updated: February 20, 2014 6:45AM
On a cold winter’s day with temperatures better suited for football — or better yet, hockey — Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson on Friday had sick kids in a hospital thinking about baseball games at sunny Wrigley Field.
He certainly is ready for baseball weather, mentioning several times at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn that the weather is too cold for a native of Georgia.
“Everybody here says they like the cold, they like the snow. We don’t get much snow where I come from. It’s cold out there,” Jackson said with a smile.
He had kids smiling as he spent about 90 minutes visiting with them in select rooms, autographing blue Cubs hats for them and any siblings they may have at home, posing for photographs and just talking baseball.
“Baseball, basketball, football — if it has a ball, I like it,” Jackson told basketball fan Armani Alexander, 15, of Matteson. “Of all the sports, baseball was the one made for me, I guess.”
Armani was in the hospital for complications related to sickle cell anemia, said his mother, Rose.
“It was cool,” Armani said of meeting Jackson.
“This was very uplifting for him. I could see the smile on his face,” Rose said.
Jackson was smiling a lot as he visited with kids in a recreation room and with other patients too ill to leave their hospital beds.
“I’m having a good time. Putting smiles on their faces, you can’t put a price on that. It’s always a pleasure, definitely. It gets no better,” Jackson said.
Jackson, 30, the father of a 2-year-old son and 2-month-old daughter, knows being a parent is his most important duty.
“Baseball, that’s the easy part. When you come home, that’s when the day starts,” he said.
Spring training starts for him in early February when pitchers and catchers report to camp in Arizona.
“Any time you have a season like I had last year, you know that’s not the way you can perform. You go 8-18, that’s hard to do. It happens, and you get the itch for next year. You feel you owe it to yourself to show what you can really do,” Jackson said.
He likes the direction the Cubs are heading and said the team needs to “play with a little attitude.”
He was happy to hear D’Angelo Curtis, 14, of Chicago’s Roseland community, is a Cubs fan.
“I played for both teams, so I wouldn’t mind if you said ‘White Sox,’ even though I’m now on the North Side, the right side,” Jackson said. “We’re going to win it one year so we can watch the city go crazy. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun to play in Chicago, especially when you win.”
D’Angelo was scheduled to have his appendix removed Friday.
“You’ll get nice and strong and come watch the Cubs play,” Jackson told him.
Jackson had fun with Elijah Bamgbose, 13, of Beecher, telling him to send photos of them together to him via Instagram.
“I want to see those,” Jackson said.
Wearing his No. 36 pinstripe Cubs jersey and standing 6 foot 3, it was hard to miss Jackson as he walked down the hallways.
One of the last patients he visited was Zaid Shareef, 19, of Worth, in for chemotherapy. Like all the people Jackson saw, he received an autographed cap and a friendly chat.
“His name is ‘Z’ now,” Jackson said.
Shareef said his cancer started in his right hip and “started spreading, but we’re able to control it before it spreads worse.”
It was “really cool” meeting Jackson, he said.
“I’m a fan of both teams, actually. Whatever chance I get, I love going to baseball games,” Shareef said.