Two years ago, a cult hero was born.
As the Cubs and Rockies battled into the wee hours of the morning (or is it night?), the home team had to turn to an unlikely relief pitcher. Backup backstop and all-around renaissance man John Baker entered the game in the top of the 16th and shut the Rox down on 11 pitches. He stayed in and walked to lead off the bottom of the inning, then advanced to second on an Emilio Bonifacio bunt and third on an Anthony Rizzo single.
And then, 387 minutes after first pitch, Baker raised his fist in triumph as he crossed home on a Starlin Castro sac fly. He was the winning pitcher and scored the winning run, winning the hearts of Cubs fans everywhere in the process. It helped that he was already a beloved character whose interests and talents extended well beyond the diamond, one of those guys everyone wants on their team.
The inimitable Danny Rockett was in attendance that fateful night, though circumstances conspired to force him to take in the finale from outside the ballpark. A seed of inspiration was planted in the singer/songwriter’s sodden cerebrum, germinating the next day after a healthy dose of beerigation and perhaps a little manure. Thus The Ballad of John Baker was born.
To honor the two-year anniversary of this blessed event, Rockett (whose credits include The Son Ranto Show and work for Bleed Cubbie Blue, among others) paired with Corey Fineran of popular Cubs podcast Ivy Envy to put together John Baker Day. Hosted at Nisei Lounge just south of Wrigley, the event will run from 11am – 12pm CST and features all kinds of great stuff.
Seriously, there’ll be a Q&A with John Baker, musical performances from Katie Day (of By the Lakeside fame) and Rockett’s band Bad Teenage Mustache, a raffle for a limited-edition Baker bobblehead, and more. By more, I mean there’s also an auction for a piece of original art from Matt Kammerer that depicts Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, and Javy Baez that will be signed by all five. Fair warning, bidding is already up to $1,000.
Oh, Baker has also invited some members of the Cubs’ current roster to attend, so who knows who you might run into.
Admission to the once-in-a-lifetime event is $25 and includes a special John Baker Day t-shirt, a digital download card for a new recording of The Ballad of John Baker (featuring John’s brother Will on trombone), and one drink ticket (Jeppson’s Malört, anyone?). Per Baker’s wishes, proceeds from the tickets, raffle, and auction will go to Cubs Charities.
I’ll be in attendance, as will the Cubs’ social media team and a bunch of other ne’er-do-wells from Twitter and real life. My plan is to broadcast some of the festivities live on Periscope (a live-streaming service you can access via Twitter or an app), so you can be at the party even if you can’t be at the party. If you’d like to join us in person, however, I suggest you get your ticket yesterday. And if just want to hang out at the game, we’ll be heading to the bleachers en masse after JBD comes to a close.
In the interest of full disclosure, I had heard about this whole deal a while ago but hadn’t planned to take part until I hung out with Danny prior to the Cubs/Pirates game in Pittsburgh on the Saturday before the All-Star break. After hearing him talk about how it had all come together and seeing the passion he had for it, there’s no way I was going to miss out. Not only does it sound like a great time, but I felt I owed it to all of my internet “friends” to grace them with my presence.