For 365 days a year, St. Paul's Retirement Community serves as a home and space for northern Indiana's elderly residents.
However, for six months over the spring and summer, a pair of rooms are reserved for two South Bend Cubs players who both will become a part of the special bond that runs through the building.
2018 is the third year of the program that allows Cubs players to move in and call St. Paul's home. Much like 2016 residents Carson Sands and Craig Brooks, along with 2017 players Wyatt Short and Jared Cheek, outfielder Chris Singleton and pitcher Brendan King have moved into the retirement community for the 2018 campaign.
Before being drafted by the Cubs both in 2017, King and Singleton did not know one another at all. King, a right handed pitcher from Brookline, MA played his college ball at Holy Cross (MA). While Singleton, from Goose Creek, South Carolina, spent his college years at Charleston Southern University.
King has impressed on the mound so far in 2018 for South Bend after finishing last season with Mesa pitching 22.1 innings while striking out 28 batters. Singleton, who played last year in the Northwest League with the Eugene Emeralds, earned the call up to the South Bend Cubs after driving in 10 RBI in 2017.
Despite the different backgrounds, both Singleton and King are embracing their new homes. As residents of St. Paul's, they receive their own suite, bathroom, and meals provided by the kitchen staff. Most of all, they welcome over 400 new friends into their lives.
In a WGN-TV feature done last year on both Short and Cheek, many of the residents in the retirement community expressed their happiness that a program like this continues year-after-year.
"They really lift our spirits up and give us something to cheer about," explained resident John Haupert.
The two players are entering their second month living in the retirement community in May. Singleton made South Bend's opening day roster, while King was added two weeks into the season. The two players said they have both enjoyed their time in the Mishawaka facility so far.
"I already notice how they love us being there," Singleton said. "People slip poems under my door as well as newspapers just to interact with me whenever I get back from the ballpark.'
With the busy schedule of the baseball season, the players have the most time in the mornings and at night to get to know their neighbors. Earlier in April, South Bend Cubs Owner and Chairman Andrew Berlin joined King and Singleton for a luncheon at St. Paul's along with the residents. It was the first chance for King and Singleton to meet their roommates for the next six months.
"They are always happy to talk about their life stories and ask about mine," King said. "We usually have fun comparing our different paths that we took into adulthood."
After St. Paul's approached the South Bend Cubs with this idea of having athletes living with their retired community, Hart said it took a bit of convincing to get the first few players on board. But when they looked into the opportunity and saw all the ways they can benefit personally, it was an easy sell.
Short, who was South Bend's closer in 2017, had fond memories of living at St. Paul's for the summer. In the WGN piece that aired last year, Short mentioned that being far away from home, the residents of St. Paul's became almost like family.
"The connection that we had with the residents and how easy we picked up conversations made it feel like home," Short said to WGN. "Later on you'll really realize the lives you touched and how much it means to them than you really think."
With every new duo that moves into the community, they make an immediate bond with those around them. Singleton said he's made two new friends already that have stuck out.
"I've shared a cookie with a lady that turned 99 that particular day," Singleton said. "Also I had lunch with a man who was 100 years and 6 months old."
Differently for King, he has never traveled through or lived in the midwest prior to this April. Born and raised in Massachusetts, King has played baseball out west in California and Arizona, but the midwest is a brand new area.
Coming to Indiana from Massachusetts was a big transition for King, but when he was approached and asked if he would like to live at St. Paul's, he was very excited to experience it.
"Something that really stood out to me was how nice and welcoming everyone was, King said. "They happily accepted me into their community. Both the staff and residents did everything they could to make me feel welcome."
With an entire summer ahead of them at St. Paul's, King and Singleton are excited for what is ahead. There are countless people who live there with great stories for them to learn. Both of them look forward to spending time getting to know as many residents as they can.
"I think this experience shows how deep baseball and the Cubs family run," King said. "I'm realizing that I can bond with anyone because baseball is a symbol that we all respect and can build relationships around."
"Personally I think every time you speak to someone who is much older than you, you can gain wisdom from their life experiences," Singleton said.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.