Chicago Cubs shirts: Meet Joe Johnson, the creative force behind Obvious Shirts

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Friday, April 8, 2022
Meet the creative force behind these clever Cubs t-shirts
Joe Johnson never imagined several years ago when he made up a Cubs T-shirt that it would lead to a new career at his Obvious Shirt Company.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's opening day, not just for the Cubs, but for the small business owner who might be one of their biggest fans - and one of their most creative.

Joe Johnson never imagined several years ago when he made up a T-shirt saying "Jake Arrieta is good at baseball," - a reference to the Cubs star pitcher in 2015 - that it would lead to a new career.

"I went to get a beer and everybody asked me where I got the shirt," Johnson said.

Johnson kept coming up with more ideas for T-shirts, and more customers kept discovering them through his Obvious Shirt Company.

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Among his favorites are "I don't have another 108 years," a reference to how long it took the Cubs to win their last World Series. "Holy cow" is another. And the image of a rhino wearing the number 23, in honor of Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

He sold the shirts on the Internet for several years until it became clear that he needed to open his own shop in Wrigleyville.

"For the most part I'm a baseball nerd," Johnson said. "I sit home and watch Cubs games and make up T-shirts. That's what I do."

Several of his shirts reference the Cubs World Series in 2016, including one that reads "The greatest game ever played was a Wednesday night in Cleveland."

Customers, however, have their own favorites. Cubs fan Dan Garza said he was a big fan of "Old School," so "Frank the Tank" is his pick.

The company has already grown more quickly than Johnson ever imagined. And he has no idea where it all leads. But he says whatever happens, he will remain a Cubs fan. And he will plan to continue to put as much of his profits as possible to needy causes.

"T-shirts are the vehicle to give back and to be able to provide charitable donations," Johnson said. "That means more to me than anything else."