Grandpa Pitched for the Cubs:
An Unforgettable Story
“Grandpa Pitched for the Cubs” (which you can buy on Amazon) is the debut novel written by best-selling author and Liberty University founder Dr. Elmer Towns. It’s a worthy tribute to both baseball and the Chicago Cubs; in fact, Harry Caray, the voice of the Cubs, wrote a personal letter to Dr. Towns about the book and about Dr. Towns’ son, Sam, who died in 2002. It’s a wonderful letter that is included with the novel in the dedication pages.
The book tells the story of Noel Remle, a high school pitcher who dreams of playing for the Chicago Cubs and pitching in the World Series, and who finally gets his chance after the most unlikely of events. Here’s the official back cover copy from the novel’s press release:
Grandpa Pitched for the Cubs tells the story of Noel Remle a young high school pitcher who dreamed of pitching baseball professionally. He developed a unique talent—a killer knuckleball—that made him the eventual darling of Wrigley Field fanatics.
But Remle’s dreams were nearly derailed when he accidentally killed a man who was attacking a woman in a darkened Chicago alley. He stopped the rape, but his index finger was shot off during the struggle. Remle managed to keep the murder a secret after an automobile accident driving away from the crime scene gave him a plausible explanation about why his index finger was missing.
While Remle struggles with his secret, a police officer struggles with his obsession to find the man with a missing index finger. Will the Cubs finally make the World Series? Will Remle pitch in the World Series? What happens when the cop and Remle finally meet? And what secrets remain to be discovered that could change everything?
I had a chance to speak with Dr. Towns about his debut novel:
Dr. Towns, could tell us a little more about your book and your love for Cubs Baseball?
I moved to Chicago in 1965 up on the north side, and I started going to the Chicago Cubs baseball games because I had a ministerial pass. I could get in for I think it was 50 cents a day. And once I got in, I could sit anywhere back in those days. They only had about 4,000 to 5,000 for a game, and it was always in the afternoon. I went up there lots of times and started taking my son up there, and, what happened one day, he came home from school about noon for lunch. We lived about a block away from school. So I said, “Sam, do you have any tests today?” He said, “No, Dad.” I said, “Okay, so let’s go to the game.” He said, “Okay, let’s go,” so we went out, got in the car, went to the game, and so for the next five or six years every birthday we went to the Cubs game. And I love the Cubs, and I’m rooting for them as I travel all over the country. I watch them on WTN, and I’m a Cubs fan and boy they have never come close; they always lose. You always say you get excited in the spring but you die in August.
That brings me to my next question: do you think the Cubs will ever win the World Series in your lifetime?
Oh, this could be the year, I am always an optimist.
So could you discuss how you conjured up Noel Remle and his story?
So, I thought of this story about a man like myself who came from Lynchburg, Virginia; I live in Lynchburg, Virginia. As a matter of fact, I have been here at Liberty University since 1971. I am the co-founder. So I go to the Hillcats games every once in a while. So I conceived this story of a pitcher who was a grandpa who didn’t have a full finger — the index finger, the pointer finger. It was half gone, so he had learned how to throw a knuckleball. And he went to this game, and he saw the minor league team for the Cubs, and he saw a guy he pitched with in high school, so they got to talking and so his buddy said come on and pitch in the ninth inning. Go on and pitch now in batting practice. So he went on and pitched in batting practice, and he did pretty good and he then said, “Show me your best stuff,” so he showed him this knuckleball. He called it the killer knuckleball. He could throw it outside and it would always break in. He could really control it, this guy, Gramps (Remle). He is a 60-year-old grandpa. So he goes in and strikes out nine men in a row, and so a week later he goes down to visit him, and the rest you will have to read the book to find out.
You dedicated this book to your son, could you tell us a little more about him?
My son, we took him to the ball games and even after we moved away we would still go back to games. I get these freakishly frequent flyer miles, and we would go to Chicago and take him to the ballgame and we’d listen to Harry Caray. So I wrote to Harry Caray, and Harry then wrote that dedication to the book in front of the book, so as you will see that was a real letter from Harry Caray voice of the Cubs in the front of the book, about the book, and about my son. My son became a preacher. He served the Lord, and he was saved. He graduated from Baptist University, and then he graduated from three seminaries, from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, from Dallas Theological Seminary, and then got his doctorate degrees from Fuller. And he was one of the instrumental founders for the online program here at Liberty, which is so big today. He was killed in an automobile accident in 2002.