Steve Schumer, 57, of Gillette, N.J., was named the 17th member of the Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame Tuesday at Lambeau Field.
A lifelong New Jersey resident, Schumer was selected by fans from 10 finalists during a voting period that ran from Jan. 1 to Jan. 31 on Packers.com. More than 30,000 votes were cast from throughout the United States and countries around the world.
Schumer was nominated by his son, Adam, whose nomination essay described the great lengths his father went to in order to follow the Packers during the 1970s and ‘80s, before the Internet, satellite and cable television allowed for widespread coverage of NFL teams.
A high school student in the 1970s, Schumer wrote each year to the Packers requesting the annual highlight reels, and the team loaned Schumer the film, which he could only watch on a 16mm projector borrowed from his school. Schumer also struck up a friendship with Shirley Leonard of the Packers’ public relations department, who would tape each game once VCRs became available. She sent each tape to Schumer the next day so he could watch each game from his east coast home.
To keep up with Packers news, Schumer also got the Green Bay Press-Gazette mailed daily to his home, each paper usually arriving five to seven days after it was published. Eventually, he was able to convince the U.S. Postmaster General to improve the service to a delay of three or four days.
An excerpt of the nomination letter from Schumer’s son reads:
“One time in the late ‘70s, the Packers were playing the Redskins in a preseason game in Green Bay. Just so he could see his team on television, he drove five hours to Washington, D.C., and checked into a small hotel right before kickoff. After watching the game in his room, he checked out around midnight, shocking the front desk clerk, and drove home!”
Schumer’s son also noted that his father raised him to be a Packers fan and they have been to Lambeau Field 14 times together, taking a trip to Green Bay nearly every year.
This year’s other finalists included: Glen Christensen, from Grapevine, TX; Jean Gollyhon, from Green Bay, Wis.; Nancy Locante from Kenosha, Wis.; Frank Michalowski from Verona, Wis.; Mike Oechsner from Green Bay, Wis.; Steve Tate from De Forest, Wis.; Christopher Windisch from Williston Park, N.Y.; Gary Love from Hicksville, N.Y.; and Arnold Ruelle from Niles, Mich.
Schumer will receive four club seats to a 2015 Packers home game; a $500 Packers Pro Shop gift certificate; a road trip for two to a 2015 Packers away game, including game tickets, air fare and hotel accommodations; and a one-year subscription to Packers Plus. Schumer also will have his name permanently displayed in a place of honor in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
The Green Bay Packers established the Packers FAN Hall of Fame in 1998 for the purpose of annually honoring a devout and longtime Packers fan.
The 16 prior honorees include Mel Knoke, Appleton, Wis.; Louis Gardipee, Black River Falls, Wis.; Ed Jablonski, Wausau, Wis.; Paul Mazzoleni, Green Bay; Wanda Boggs, Brookfield, Wis.; Sister Isaac Jogues Rousseau, Milwaukee; Dorothy Hanke, Milwaukee; Kathy Lazzaro, Milwaukee; Rich Barbera, River Vale, N.J.; Richard ‘Ike’ Eisenhauer, Wauwatosa, Wis.; Allan Hale, Green Bay; Jim Becker, Racine, Wis.; Tom Little, Mount Sterling, Ill; Rick Steele, Greensburg, Pa; Edward Fritsch, Sheboygan, Wis., and Vivian Scherf-Laabs, Cedarburg, Wis.
Packers FAN Hall of Fame sponsors are Great Clips, Robert Haack Diamonds and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.