The mecca for Cubs fans around the world has always been Wrigley Field, but I would like to add one more location that is a must-visit for fans of Chicago’s Northsiders, Club 400 in Lake in the Hills, Illinois.
Club 400 is an award-winning fan cave built by Stewart McVicar a few years ago as a 40th birthday present for his vast Cubs memorabilia collection, and a great place to hang with friends. But through a series of happenstances and Stewart’s huge heart, it now serves as place for fans and Cubs players, past and present to raise money for charitable causes. I wrote about it a while back if you want to read the whole story.
Where else can you hang out eating at a BBQ eating catered hamburgers, while drinking beer out of red Solo cups with Kyle Schwarber? Where else can you rub elbows with team owner Tom Ricketts and re-tell the story of your girlfriend getting a black eye from a Dodgers fan in L.A. during the 2016 NLCS? And where else besides a Major League baseball diamond can you get tagged by Javier Baez?
To the best of my knowledge, the only place you can do all these incredible things is Club 400.
Last week, I had the privilege of rocking a set of my Cubs tunes at the Club 400 Kyle Schwarber event to help raise money for Kyle’s personal charity Neighborhood Heroes. About 250 Cubs fans packed McVicar’s backyard awaiting the arrival of Schwarber’s helicopter, seriously, he came from Chicago on a helicopter after that crazy 11-10 win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, July 1. But Schwarber arrived at the event in a fire truck! I mean Club 400 has some cool stuff, but it doesn’t have a helipad! (Video by James Gosser)
Heckuva better entrance than I had a few hours earlier, driving up in a ripped up Kia because a whipped up storm knocked over a tree that fell on my car going about 45 miles per hour. Since I was driving to a Kyle Schwarber event when the accident happened, I called that tree Dexter Fowler. It didn’t tear up my knee ligaments, but it did rip off my door handle.
The storm probably would have wreaked havoc on Club 400’s backyard too, except Stewart was prepared with party tents for the guests and caterers alike. McVicar’s party production skills are excellent. Guests are welcomed with tables stocked with snacks and drinks, and of course, the beer is flowing.
I entertained the gathering crowd with a set of Cubs tunes who were abuzz while getting a buzz in anticipation of meeting Schwarber in such a relaxed and intimate setting. Outspoken Cubs fan Crawly snapped this shot while singing along to my John Lackey-inspired “I Didn’t Come Here For a Haircut.”
I finished up my set, making way for music from Jim and Justin of The Modern Day Romeos who sang the Cubs radio theme song the last year WGN carried Cubs games, and made my way inside Stewart’s Cubs Cave to re-enjoy the museum he has created in his house. You can see some of the cool things he has in the gallery at the end of this article. But of all the signed jerseys, balls, bats and bobbleheads, this remains my favorite.
After a trip around the memorabilia, I headed back outside to enjoy a delicious burger and chicken while hanging with the new friends I’ve made over the handful of times I’ve visited Club 400. In the past, I’ve had a blast meeting Ryne Sandberg and Tom Ricketts. The Javier Baez event was as exciting a party as he is a ball player. And now here I am out here a fourth time seeing the same people all there to meet Kyle Schwarber. This is a Cubs fan’s dream come true!
But Club 400 events keep getting better and better because of the community Stewart’s creating among us. The players feel that sense of community which brings them out to Lake in the Hills to throw bigger and better parties each time. Club 400’s motto of “Cubs Fans Helping Cubs Fans” keeps meaning more and more as our community continues to grow. Fans, friends, and players, we’re all there in Stewart’s backyard trying to make the world a better place.
After singing the National Anthem lead by Kyle’s good friend 12-year-old Campbell Faulkner of Campbell’s Crew, whose charity helps feed the homeless, people began lining up for pictures with Kyle.
When it came my turn, I presented Kyle with a gift of a John Baker Day Fanny Pack. Kyle says John Baker is going to love it!
When photos were finished, we all gathered outside for a live auction and a Q-and-A with Kyle.
Here’s Kyle outbidding himself on a set of Corn Hole. (Also regionally known as “Bags”)
The look on Kyle’s girlfriend Paige’s face is classic as Kyle competes against himself. Actually, Justin from Modern Day Romeos looks funny too, but he’s probably swatting a mosquito.
Kyle also chugged a final beer in his office chair before it was auctioned off. Altogether, the event raised over 20K bringing Club 400 over the 300 K mark! That’s $300,000 of Cubs fans helping Cubs fans!
After the auction, Jaeger Bomb drinking, 92-year-old Cubs fan Dorothy led us all in Take Me Out to the Ballgame!
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers then led Kyle in a Q-and-A which lasted until midnight in which Kyle candidly talks about his work ethic, his 2016 World Series comeback, and his experience as a kid from Ohio from a blue-collar, first-responder family, becoming a Major League Ballplayer.
And because I had just enough space on my iPhone, you can watch all 41 minutes of the interview!
Kyle was incredibly appreciative of Cubs fans’ passion, and for helping him raise money for Neighborhood Heroes. And my friend Patty Ehlert was super appreciative and excited that Kyle signed the custom Cubs bar she had just purchased during the auction!
With the party running until after midnight, an hour and change drive home and work in the morning, I made my rounds of goodbyes and headed back to Chicago feeling lucky for the unique night I got to experience, combining my two loves of music and the Cubs with new friends.
Thank you, Stewart McVicar for building Club 400. His vision for a Cubs fan cave has become so much more. It’s a mecca and gathering spot for all of us who love the Chicago Cubs, their players and fans.
Club 400 has more events coming soon! Gary Matthews will be visiting on Friday, August 10 for a smaller event, and tickets will be available within the next week or so. Check the website! I unfortunately have to attend a cousin’s wedding that evening, so I can’t be there. But you should go! You should definitely go! At least someday.... you have to go to Club 400.
*I’ve included another video of Kyle getting up the bid for an auction item after the gallery! Check it out!