A stump only a Tribe fan could love
Daughter's thoughtful gift turns an eyesore into a treasure
The old maple tree had been dying for years, an eyesore that Mary Ann Allen had long wanted removed from the front yard of her Meadville, Pa., home.
So when she finally had it taken down this spring, and workers left behind an unsightly ten-foot tall stump, Allen was beside herself.
"What's going on?" she would ask. "When are they coming, when are they coming to finish?"
If only she knew.
Upon returning home from an out-of-town wedding a few weeks later, the 74-year-old die-hard Indians fan saw the stump had transformed into the nicest and most thoughtful present she had ever received. Staring back at her was a seven-foot sculpture of Chief Wahoo, the Tribe's long-time mascot.
"What's The Chief doing in my yard?" Allen asked her daughter, Joy Sherry, as the two pulled into the driveway. "Oh my goodness."
The surprise gift orchestrated by Joy and her husband, Mark, then brought tears to Allen's eyes.
"When you get to that age, you really can't buy someone something they don't have," Joy said. "We wanted to do something really special."
Job well done.
Allen, you see, is no ordinary Tribe fan. She has a special room devoted to the team that captured her as a young girl growing up in northeast Ohio. The front page of the Cleveland Press touting the Tribe's 1948 World Series title, Bob Feller autographed photos, posters, bobbleheads, programs and banners all fill her Washington Street home.
And while she may get out to fewer games since moving to Meadville seven years ago to be closer to her daughter, Allen never misses a game.
"Never," she said. "I won't even answer the telephone. My kids know not to call grandma when the ballgame is on."
Safe to say then that she's the biggest fan in her clan?
Of course, Allen is also "just a wonderful mother," too. So why not tell the world with the most implausible of gestures?
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Joy and Mark had often bought Tribe memorabilia for Allen. But they wanted to do something memorable. Finally, the couple decided there should be more than just a Tribe flag outside Allen's home to tout her love for the Indians.
The Sherrys knew the tree in Allen's yard needed to be taken down and they also knew somebody who specialized in wood sculpting. The "life-sized" Wahoo sculpture seemed perfect.
So they called their friend Brian Sprague, an area chainsaw artist who specializes in wood carving, and picked the June weekend Allen would be off with Joy at a granddaughter's wedding in Ohio to fashion the gift.
"Oh, it came out perfect," Joy said. "And it was just wonderful to see mom and how happy she was when she saw that Wahoo."
That excitement hasn't yet diminished. Chief Wahoo has become an attraction of sorts in Allen's bucolic town, with folks often asking if they can pose for pictures with the sculpture.
"I sit out there in front of the house and people are honking and waving," Allen said.
She hopes that doesn't soon change.
"It's a conversation piece, let me tell you," Allen said with a laugh. "And I love it."
David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.