Hamilton citizen of the year said city is full of others ‘that do amazing things’

Brad Baker said the citizen of the year honor felt “very undeserved” and the award could have gone to many others in Hamilton “that do amazing things.”

Though the honor was “pretty overwhelming,” the award bestowed by the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce did not leave the owner of Pinball Garage speechless. In fact at the chamber’s annual dinner this past Friday night, he professed his love for his adopted hometown, and its people and businesses.

“I love Hamilton. I love everything about Hamilton. Hamilton is an amazing town,” said Baker.

The Fairfield native said his grandmother used to take him to Elder-Beerman in downtown Hamilton, and “that was the last hurrah in Hamilton for a long time” saying there weren’t a lot of good reasons to hang out in Butler County’s capital city.

ExploreHamilton-based 80 Acres Farms planning new facility in N. Kentucky

But after a long revitalization effort by the city, it’s transformed. New businesses moved in, including Municipal Brew Works, the Casual Pint, and Basil 1791, and he was looking for a new location for his business VPcabs Virtual Panel, which produces virtual pinball machines.

When the Fairfield native relocated his business to Hamilton in 2018 and opened the Pinball Garage ― a combination pinball arcade-restaurant-bar, which also is also a place to continue to build virtual pinball machines ― he got questions of “why?”

He basically told all those who questioned the move they “have got to come to check this (city) out.”

“I didn’t know until I started looking for a new place to move my business, and I saw all the amazing things,” Baker said.

Baker is an entrepreneur and visionary, and even is a “guy with a screw loose,” but his heart is why he the 2021 Hamilton citizen of the year award, said Jeff Archiable, the chamber’s communication strategist.

The loose-screw comment referred to Baker’s work creating virtual pinball machines and opening businesses.

“When you look at what Brad’s done this past year, growing a unique business that draws in visitors from outside the city, tirelessly promoting all the good things happening in Hamilton, including other businesses, and his willingness to help charities, along with the immediacy of his actions on that front, you really get a clear picture as to why Brad Baker is very deserving of Hamilton’s 2021 Citizen of the Year award,” said Archiable, who nominated Baker.

Not only does he cross-promote other businesses, but he’s heavily involved in community and philanthropic events, such as the 6th annual Critters Crafts Cars and Bike Show, the Trunk and Treat event with the Cars and Candy Foundation, and was the first to offer space for brides and grooms following the Hanover Reserve fire.

He also put on an impromptu event Cars for Gavin, along with the Cars and Candy Foundation, to put on a last-minute car show for Gavin Ward who battled DIPG, the same cancer Lauren Hill and Kyler Bradley that resulted in their deaths.

ExploreLinden Theater in Hamilton sparks interest from Revivalists frontman David Shaw

Baker said he does what he does because of kindness. He said Hamilton’s shown that kindness to him, and he wants to show that kindness to others.

“There’s been so much division, and so much hate and just back and forth ― silly stuff that really doesn’t matter in the perspective of humanity and people and caring,” said Baker. “I would encourage and implore everyone here tonight to turn off Facebook, put down your phone for a little bit and be kind. Love your neighbor, be kind to somebody. I think everybody is struggling some and it’s easy to get upset, or whatever, but we all need to see some more kindness.”

About the Author