Baseball might be in a lockout, but Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ keeps busy with an ever-expanding list of investments and projects near and dear to his heart.
No one knows exactly when the next Major League Baseball game will be played. Two months removed from the Atlanta Braves winning their first World Series since 1995, America’s pastime is mired in a lockout. The hot stove has cooled entirely as the MLBPA and the league’s owners hash it out over service time, competitive balance, and everything in between.
Through it all, the players need to stay baseball-ready, preparing as if pitchers and catchers will actually report to Spring Training in February. Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ is doing just that, spending his winter getting back into game shape and meeting with his trainers as he heads toward his age 27 season.
But even if he and his teammates are still locked out by the owners when the scheduled start of the regular season rolls around, Happ is as locked in as anyone on the subject of putting his money to work.
“This is the time for me to be able to work on a lot of the projects that I have going on off the field and get a lot of those things in motion,” Happ told Boardroom of his offseason.
He’s far from the first athlete to go heavy into real estate or crypto, but he’s assembled a diverse portfolio with one consistent thread throughout: Everything he does off the field is connected to something personally meaningful.
The Ian Happ Brand
The Happ Portfolio
“Your Most Powerful Tool”
Happ was a finance major at the University of Cincinnati, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that he’s interested in making the most of the opportunities that an MLB salary provides. He linked up with investment firm Capital Creek Partners, at which his brother Chris is managing partner, in order to get a jump start on making the connections necessary to expand his portfolio to a point that few ballplayers 520 games into their MLB careers could hope to match.
It figures that a man as versatile as Happ — he plays all three outfield positions in addition to being able to cover at second and third base — would boast an assortment of holdings with similar flex.
Each project provides a different look into Happ the human being as much as Happ the investor. Perhaps no investment is more telling than Core, which is a training device used to develop meditation — when Happ lost his father to cancer in 2015, his brother introduced him to meditation as a strategy to help work through the loss.
“I was trying to start my professional baseball career,” Happ said. “And I started this journey of mental health, and being in touch with my mental health, and working on it, and using it as another form of performance, another form of exercise.”
While everybody deals with stress and grief differently, Happ does try to pass on pointers when appropriate. Mental health has become such an important part of who he is that he likens it to staying at the top of his game on the diamond.
“A professional athlete wouldn’t not work out for a full season and expect to be at his best,” Happ said. “So you have to exercise your mind. You have to train your mind because it’s your most powerful tool.”
Now, Happ says, guys are meditating in the clubhouse, and he is pleased with how much more openly mental health is discussed in sports compared to even just a few years ago. In particular, the Cubs have placed an emphasis on the subject while Happ was working his way up in the minors. The organization even established a mental skills department that would help developing players conquer those aspects of baseball fans don’t always see.
Quarantine & Opportunity
Just as Happ turned his own experiences into opportunities with meditation and Core, he treated the early days of the pandemic as another chance to try some new things.
He turned his passion for talking baseball into a podcast and his taste for coffee into his own brand.
The podcast he co-hosts with Zack Short and Dakota Mekkes, “The Compound,” is now part of the Jomboy Media network and will soon hit the 100-episode milestone. It’s an outlet for him to talk baseball the way he wants and to give his guest athletes like Anthony Rizzo and Josh Donaldson the chance to share their voices with fans.
“I was living in a house in Arizona with a few guys that I played with and said, ‘hey, let’s start a podcast. There’s not much going on in sports landscape right now. I think we can provide people with some entertainment, some levity in this tough time,'” Happ recalled
Happ also teamed up with Connect Roasters during COVID shutdowns to develop Quarantine Coffee. That idea came about while Happ was trying to think of a way to help the Chicago community through the early days of the pandemic. He found Connect, which was already giving $1 per pound roasted to the communities where the beans were sourced. After reaching out, Connect sent him a couple of bags to try.
“I fell in love with the stuff,” Happ said. “It was the smoothest coffee I’d ever had.”
But like everything Happ does, it wasn’t just about slapping his name on something, stepping back, and profiting passively. He’s learned from what he’s seen so far of the inner workings of coffee distribution and marketing. He’s helped the company develop a canned cold brew and re-brand its packaging. Overall, Happ says, Quarantine Coffee is his biggest equity stake and his biggest time commitment outside of baseball.
“It was always kind of a pipe dream to invest in a coffee roaster and to try and help bring my own spin on coffee,” Happ said.
And as if Happ doesn’t have enough to juggle, he’s also the Cubs’ MLBPA representative, which means he has been at the forefront of negotiations as the union and league owners try to get the game moving again.
Until then, Happ has ensured he’ll have plenty on his plate — and in his cup.