- United States
- Austin, TX
Chris Baker (1949-2020. Austin, TX,) Chris Baker lived by the motto, “Live life to the fullest.” With this attitude, he thrived as an early Frisbee Freestyle promoter, hosting numerous NAS series events and FPA majors in the early- and mid- 1980s.As a native Austinite, Chris had the connections and the contacts to get access to venues otherwise off limits and to legitimize the sport to city administrators. In addition to freestyle, Chris hosted two Ultimate Frisbee National Championships, five Waterloo Disc Golf Classic tournaments, and secured the installation of the first permanent disc golf course in Austin at Bartholomew Park in 1982. Every legend has a mystique about them, and Chris is no exception. As legend has it, Chris was armed with the Rolodex from his mom’s position at the Austin Chamber of Commerce giving him access to secure sponsors, including radio stations, for tournaments. Those sponsors allowed Chris to attract the best players with increased payout, but also create a party-like atmosphere with bands, skydivers, food vendors, and thousands of cheering spectators that he hyped up as one of the best MCs the sport has ever seen. Chris was the leader of the Lone Star Frisbee Club and was supported by a long list of members who loved the sport. Chris was willing to step up and take leadership of the club and the tournaments and to turn them into something special. His efforts to grow the sport put Austin on the map to be an early mecca of freestyle with many of the top players of the day moving there. Chris’ freestyle journey didn’t end in the 1980s, as he came out of retirement to help co-direct the Winter Open in 2013 and the first American Freestyle Open in Austin in 2014. We are indebted to Chris’ tireless efforts to promote Frisbee freestyle in Texas and his work in the early days of the sport has had lasting impact on the players of today. -The Lone Star Frisbee Club The induction of Chris Baker into the Freestyle Disc Hall of Fame honors multiple achievements. The first is recognizing his tireless efforts as an event promoter and Tournament Director. In that regard, he excelled beyond any, and all others who undertook that task. The endless juggling act of multi or hyper tasking is nothing short of remarkable. Certainly, there were others who excelled in this endeavor but what set Chris apart was how many things he managed with his events. His events were huge, and they were electric, but the most amazing thing is that he did two per year. For several years, Chris was promoting his events year round. I don’t believe that anyone else has ever been a full time Frisbee promotor during that time. Prior to one of his events, he would saturate the town with programs, poster, flyers, radio ads and tv and newspaper coverage. His events never had a dead time during the day. In addition to the tournament events he’d have canine demos, sky divers, belly dancers, BMX bikes jumping over cars, remote controlled cars, and a couple of live bands each day. It was non-stop entertainment and that’s why everyone showed up. It was the place to be with each event drawing crowds in the tens of thousands. Also of note was Chris was one of the original supporters of the FPA Tour. He hosted the FPA World Championships three times at the beginning of the tour (1980, 1982, 1983). His efforts directly increased the prestige of this event and set the bar high for future Tournament Directors. Secondly, the induction of Chris Baker into the Freestyle Disc Hall of Fame gives full recognition to the fertile jam scene of Austin, TX during the 1980’s and 90’s. Consider that Chris also joins recent inductees John Houck (class of 2020), Donnie Rhodes (class of 2018), Bob Coleman (2022) and Dave Schiller (2022). Looming down the road will be an almost certain lock in Gina Sample. The Austin scene existed because of his events. Anytime a player came through Austin, there’s a good chance that they stayed at Baker’s. He provided great prize money and paid demos and tournament sponsorships to the top teams to help them be able to keep on touring. Anyone who has attended an Austin, TX tournament owes a debt of gratitude to Chris and to all who jammed and made that such a great scene. Many other jammers who jam in Austin also have contributed to that success. Players such as Dan Yarnell, Charles Logan and even James Wiseman. The unfortunate passing of Chris Baker at an early age is certainly tragic. So please consider the efforts Chris provided us with. And if you are willing, do what he would have done as a way to thank or to honor him. Give back to the Jam, help out if you’re at a tourney, give praise to all who compete. And make the world a better place. Thank you Chris.