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The Ballad of John Baker

BCB's Danny Rockett shares his cautionary tale of inebriation-inspired creativity and a John Baker song.

Baker's Back!
Baker's Back!
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The date was July 29, 2014. I showed up down at Wrigley Field after pre-gaming at home with some gin and soda, to meet my friends Gary, Steve, and Dave to catch the Cubs and Rockies on a Tuesday night. The Rockies lit up Edwin Jackson for three runs in the first. The Cubs answered with one run in the bottom half of the frame, and then tied it up with two more in the fourth, when Edwin Jackson was pulled and no one scored for the next 12 innings.

My friends and I had bought each other round after round of beer until the unfortunate end of the seventh alcohol cut-off, and at some point, with the game knotted and sobriety knocking at our beer-clouded brains, we retreated to The Captain Morgan Club, where the policy at the time was that you could pound a beer and return to the ballpark. (You can no longer do this, BTW.) As the game dragged on, we did exactly this a couple of times, always returning in the bottom half of the extra inning, hoping for a Cubs walk-off. During our last sojourn into the Captain's tavern, we stepped outside for a smoke, and didn't hear the announcement that if we didn't re-enter the ballpark immediately, we would be shut outside the gates. I believe it was midnight. But I can't be sure because of the elasticity of time when drunk on gin and beer.

Oh no! We've stuck it out this long and now can't see the rest of the game! With beered up bravery we rounded Wrigley, pleading our case to the gate attendants to no avail. Apparently, I was a little too insistent at gate D and a security guard pulled out hand cuffs and showed them to me as a warning that this could possibly not end well for me. I know when I'm beaten, so we retreated, just as the aforementioned gin-and-beer mixture demanded an immediate exit from my inebriated body. I was a sorry sight. Not my proudest moment. I can't believe they wouldn't let us in!

So, we watched the rest of the game from The Dugout bar on Addison, which finally ended in the 16th after John Baker, the Cubs backup catcher, heroically pitched a perfect frame, and then scored the winning run in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly.

I regale you with this debaucherous tale only to set up what happened the next day. I woke up tipsy, with a pain in my brain and a song in my heart, immediately writing and recording a song tentatively titled "The Night the Backup Catcher Got the Win," which I shared on BCB along with some photos of that infamous night.

I also sent the song to John Baker, the hero of the tale. He loved it, but I realized I had failed to mention John by name in the original recording of the song! I promised to make things right someday and re-record the vocals, replacing "The Cubs finally won it in 16" with "John Baker finally won it in 16." That recording session happened yesterday after I heard the glorious news that John Baker had accepted a job in the Cubs' front office!

I made a little quick video and shared the re-recorded song with John who tweeted me this.

If I take him up on his 200 drinks offer, we just might very well have a repeat of that infamous night. Not sure my liver would appreciate it. But maybe if I pace myself over 40 or 50 nights, it will all be just fine.

Even more exciting, David Baker, who I assume is John's dad, tweeted me that John's brother Will plays trombone in the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra. So now there are plans to collaborate on yet another version of the song which will include a trombone part, and also the vocals and piano parts we perform when we do the song live with my band Bad Teenage Moustache. Who knows, maybe we will even make a music video this summer and re-enact the night!

The moral of the story is...if you get too drunk and make a jerk of yourself in public, only good things can happen to you in the end. In other words, I've learned nothing.

You know, some guys were just born to be Cubs. John Baker played just one year on the North Side, but he indelibly etched himself in the hearts of Cubs fans that wild night in late July. We're all happy you're back where you belong, Mr. Baker!

With that, I proclaim July 29th "John Baker Day!" And I proclaim this song, the best (and possibly only) song ever written about backup catchers!