Cubs fans ask me all the time how the idea of John Baker Day came to be. Well, have you ever had a drunken night at the longest Cubs game in team history (by time), that culminated in three straight years of raising thousands of dollars for charity with a former Cubs player?
You probably answered no.
As would have I the morning of July 30, 2014 with a still-too-drunk-to-be-hungover feeling as I picked up a guitar to write a song about my sordid experience the night before. That song was called “The Night the Backup Catcher Got the Win,” since re-recorded with John’s brother Will on trombone and re-titled “The Ballad of John Baker.“
The morning after July 29’s six-hour, 27-minute Cubs and Rockies game , I wrote and recorded the song on a barely tuned guitar and a gin soaked voice, posted it here on Bleed Cubbie Blue, and then El’d it out to Midway to catch a flight to LA where the Cubs were headed after their final game of the series with the Rockies.
The story of what happened to me that crazy night is in the song. The story of what happened to Cubs catcher John Baker is quite different. In the wee hours of the morning, John was called upon to be the 9th Cubs pitcher in a game that had been tied at 3 for 12 innings. A position player pitching is a relative rarity, and usually reserved for games in which the offending team is being blown out.
However, this game found John Baker hurling in a high leverage situation and he delivered historically! Facing Baker’s pitching prowess, Charlie Culberson popped out to Anthony Rizzo. Drew Stubbs walked. But then Christian Adames grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the top of the 16th. Not a ball left the infield!
John Baker then led off the bottom of the 16th with a walk, taken from Rockies actual pitcher Tyler Matzek. John was then sacrificed to second on a bunt by Emilio Bonifacio. Arismendy Alcantara was hit by a pitch and Rizzo singled to load the bases. Finally, Starlin Castro hit a not-that-deep line out to left field, culminating in Baker hustling home and sliding across the plate with the winning run, as the winning pitcher!
The moment is well documented in bobblehead form and now sits in Kris Bryant’s locker at Wrigley.
John was now 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA forever. But what happened months later was that John’s baseball moment and my musical moment eventually collided when John heard the song. We ended up meeting each other and decided to throw a big party together with Ivy Envy to raise money for charity.
Then came the T-Shirts and bobbleheads, raffles and silent auctions to help raise money and give people some new unique Cubs gear. The first John Baker Day in 2016 was a huge success, and the Cubs beat John’s final MLB team, the Seattle Mariners, in a rain soaked 12-1 affair. The Cubs then went on to win the World Series that year.
We raised about $3,000 that day for Cubs Charities and had a blast doing it.
The first John Baker Day was so much fun. We decided to to it again. The second John Baker Day was so much fun (and the Cubs won). We decided to do it again! So I present to you John Baker Day Number 3 and 100 fast acting fans are invited to Nisei Lounge on July 21 to come help us raise money for Cubs fans in need!
This year, we are raising money for the Knoll Family of Huntley, Il who were terribly injured in an automobile accident. Stewart McVicar of Club 400 brought them to my attention when considering who John Baker Day should benefit this year. As a co-sponsor, Club 400’s motto of “Cubs Fans Helping Cubs Fans” has inspired us to give all proceeds to the Knoll’s who could really use our help. It’s a great party for a great cause!
Here are the when’s and where’s and how’s.
July 21st at 3 p.m.-ish (between games of the doubleheader against the Cardinals)
3429 N. Sheffield (two blocks south of the right field corner)
John Baker Day tickets, T-Shirts, and fanny packs are available at Ivy Envy’s Website.
Only 100 tickets will be sold due to limited capacity.
John Baker will join us for a Q-and-A, in which he always shares his uniquely funny take on life in the Major Leagues. We will have music by Katie Day and Son Ranto (AKA me). Plus raffles, contests and silent auctions of some nifty Cubs gear. Check out the Wrigley giveaways I’ve collected to raffle at the event!
Yes! That autographed Chris Gimenez picture could be yours! (Don’t worry... I’ll package it with a Willson Contreras bobblehead). Catchers gotta stick together at an event celebrating catchers.
If you have Cubs memorabilia you would like to donate to John Baker Day either for the silent auction or raffle, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). People have already donated autographed baseball bats, autographed art and baseball cards. The idea is to turn Cubs memorabilia into money for good causes. These items will do far more good as cash in the hands of the Knoll family than sitting on my shelf collecting dust!
Join our John Baker Day 2018 Facebook Event to keep abreast of updates as we put together the best John Baker Day yet!
If you can’t attend, you can still buy a T-Shirt or fanny pack to be shipped to you and all proceeds from sales will go to getting the Knoll family back on their feet!
The only thing less likely than me writing a song about a drunken night at a Cubs game and ending up throwing John Baker Day for three straight years with Ivy Envy, Club 400, Cubs Insider and Bleed Cubbie Blue, is John Baker’s pitching performance that fateful night. John is the only Cubs position player to ever be credited with a pitching win in the history of the franchise. A Cubs win that took six hours and 27 minutes to achieve. The longest Cubs game ever.
To be a part of celebrating an oddball game with John Baker along with Cubs fans and friends, to help Cubs fans who need our help right now? It’s just another thing to add to the list of #ThatsCub.
Find out more about how you can help the Knoll family.