You've probably seen Mick Kipp's face-if not met him personally-outside of Camden Yards by Pickles Pub, where Kipp worked since 1988. Before O's games, a large, feather-shaped banner flapped in the wind, bearing the likeness of Kipp's mug on it: his mouth contorted in a smile bearing both his upper and lower teeth, eyes wide and looking right at you, a chili pepper-spotted bandana wrapped around his head. (Mick was CP's "Best Pirate" in 2004.) Without fail, the real Mick looked identical in person, serving up spicy food to hungry ballgame-goers at his Whiskey Island catering booth, set up by Russell Street.
Kipp was ubiquitous: in Pickles tending bar; at Baltimore Beer Week events-he was BBW's treasurer, involved from the start; at festivals and farmers markets plugging Whiskey Island hot sauces, salsas, and spice mixes. His partner of five years, Gwen Kinsella, says that Kipp expended lots of energy making, packaging, and marketing his spices and rubs, but that his passion was "sharing those spices with everybody." She says that Kipp's easygoing attitude was partially derived from overcoming Hodgkin's disease three times.
When he hosted beer dinners at Pickles, Kipp's raspy voice would boom over an audience. Kinsella says that Mick's "quiet was my loud." She says Kipp, "a family guy" and "a big kid," could switch off the flamboyant persona Baltimore knew so well when he was at home with her and her children. They would watch The Three Stooges and go hiking together. Mick would regularly travel to Connecticut to visit his daughter, Motoaka T. Kipp, who lived with her mother, Kipp's ex-wife, there. For such a tremendous self-promoter, Kinsella says, he was incredibly selfless.
Kipp passed away on April 28, at age 51, and Baltimore felt the loss of this vivacious entrepreneur and friend. The previous afternoon the former professional stuntman had gone for a 30-mile hike along the C&O Canal in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.-a town Mick adored and took many friends to, including Kinsella; she, her two sons, and Matoaka buried his ashes there, at St. Peter's cemetery. The people of Baltimore, through various fundraisers, have donated about $14,000 for Matoaka's college education since Mick's death, Kinsella says. Matoaka is going into her second year at Simmons College in Boston. Kinsella reports that she's on the dean's list and works on campus as a resident assistant.
Mick "got so much on his bucket list accomplished," says Kinsella, who was with him when he went into cardiac arrest. "He didn't suffer. I hope we're all as lucky to go the way Mick did."