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Padre Libre’s baseball song comes with its own team mascot

Local rapper’s team tribute debuts opening day 2023

Masked fan Padre Libre’s new rap song debuts opening day, March 30
Masked fan Padre Libre’s new rap song debuts opening day, March 30

“I started the San Diego Super Padres motto,” says masked fan Padre Libre, whose new baseball rap will debut next opening day, March 30. “I found some guys to make the music for my song, and [Fernando] Tatis is part of the new ‘San Diego Super Padres’ song.” Padre Libre (real name Mercury Hornbeek) is a longtime fan, and rocks a Padres-themed Lucha Libre-style mask at games to pay homage to his team. “I would randomly wear the blue lucha mask the Pads gave away years ago,” he recalls, “but I didn’t have a character name yet.”

Since then, the 40-something-year-old south San Diego professional tiler has customized various Mexican wrestling-style masks with the brown and yellow motif. First, he draws them out by hand, then passes his blueprints to the mask makers. “I have two masks made by the folks who made Rey Mysterio Sr.’s masks, and two others were produced in Mexico.” He also found a couple of masks at vendor booths and then added Padres’ patches he purchased from the Padres store. He currently rotates between nine masks. “People loved it more and more, and then these guys yelled out, ‘Padre Libre!’ one day. So people started calling me that, and it’s been my name ever since. I have officially been Padre Libre for about five years now.”

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Hornbeek, a season ticket holder, watched almost every Padres home game last year from Section 119 at Petco Park. “This kid in my section caught three foul balls in a matter of a week. The last one was by Albert Pujols, so I went down there and gave him my championship wrestling belt.” Hundreds of fans take photos with Padre Libre, even at away games.

In June, Hornbeek drove 2000 miles to Chicago to watch the Padres smoke the Cubs 12-5. A hater stepped up online and said “Every fan should wear [a] bag over their face; they shouldn’t charge a dime to see that pathetic team, total embarrassment.” Hornbeek was at the game proudly rocking his Padre Libre merch and luchador-style mask, yelling “PAAADRES!” He does this regardless of whether the Pads are winning or losing. “If we don’t cheer for our city, who will?”

On October 23, Hornbeek was at Petco Park with his fellow-diehard fans, watching the Pads’ last game of the season on the big screens: game five against the Philadelphia Phillies. But despite the disappointment of that loss, Hornbeek was already planning for the opening day of 2023. “Most people already think I work for the Padres. They [assume] I’m the new mascot.” (He is not.) “I am honored, humbled, and excited to even be mentioned in the same breath as the [San Diego] Chicken and [Swinging] Friar,” he says, referencing past official team mascots. His ultimate goal for the freestyle-rapping Padre Libre character “is to let the Padres eventually take full reign of my character when I can no longer do it. I feel Padre Libre has great potential for the future and is a fun element at Petco.”

Video:

"Save Our Bolts - On the Real" by Padre Libre

A YouTuber who calls himself RPS said of Hornbeek, “San Diego is fortunate to have this man! The Padres would be wise to put Padre Libre on the payroll and officialize him. The dude oozes SD!” Before getting nods from Padres fans, Hornbeek gained notoriety for songs he recorded about the San Diego Chargers — before they bolted to Los Angeles, including “Save Our Bolts...On The Real,” “Bolt Up!” and “Don’t Be a Traitor Like a Raider!”

“I used to freestyle rap when I was younger with my peers and such,” he explains. “We loved battling, and we always challenged each other. I am not a rapper, so to say, but people know I have skills.”

John S., a Padres fan and hip-hop head, has watched Hornbeek since the Charger days. “Merc’s got the potential to be an SD icon like the KGB Chicken and the guy dressed as a padre. Merc needs to work on his flow on the mic and some dance steps to get more airtime [on TV]. Since when have you seen a mascot bust a rhyme?”

Let’s go! I’ll see you down at Petco! Machado, Tatis, Soto, Let’s go! / Let’s get a win! A win for Tony Gwynn. Are you in? / San Diego, are you ready? Another win for Caminiti / Let’s go!

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Masked fan Padre Libre’s new rap song debuts opening day, March 30
Masked fan Padre Libre’s new rap song debuts opening day, March 30

“I started the San Diego Super Padres motto,” says masked fan Padre Libre, whose new baseball rap will debut next opening day, March 30. “I found some guys to make the music for my song, and [Fernando] Tatis is part of the new ‘San Diego Super Padres’ song.” Padre Libre (real name Mercury Hornbeek) is a longtime fan, and rocks a Padres-themed Lucha Libre-style mask at games to pay homage to his team. “I would randomly wear the blue lucha mask the Pads gave away years ago,” he recalls, “but I didn’t have a character name yet.”

Since then, the 40-something-year-old south San Diego professional tiler has customized various Mexican wrestling-style masks with the brown and yellow motif. First, he draws them out by hand, then passes his blueprints to the mask makers. “I have two masks made by the folks who made Rey Mysterio Sr.’s masks, and two others were produced in Mexico.” He also found a couple of masks at vendor booths and then added Padres’ patches he purchased from the Padres store. He currently rotates between nine masks. “People loved it more and more, and then these guys yelled out, ‘Padre Libre!’ one day. So people started calling me that, and it’s been my name ever since. I have officially been Padre Libre for about five years now.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Hornbeek, a season ticket holder, watched almost every Padres home game last year from Section 119 at Petco Park. “This kid in my section caught three foul balls in a matter of a week. The last one was by Albert Pujols, so I went down there and gave him my championship wrestling belt.” Hundreds of fans take photos with Padre Libre, even at away games.

In June, Hornbeek drove 2000 miles to Chicago to watch the Padres smoke the Cubs 12-5. A hater stepped up online and said “Every fan should wear [a] bag over their face; they shouldn’t charge a dime to see that pathetic team, total embarrassment.” Hornbeek was at the game proudly rocking his Padre Libre merch and luchador-style mask, yelling “PAAADRES!” He does this regardless of whether the Pads are winning or losing. “If we don’t cheer for our city, who will?”

On October 23, Hornbeek was at Petco Park with his fellow-diehard fans, watching the Pads’ last game of the season on the big screens: game five against the Philadelphia Phillies. But despite the disappointment of that loss, Hornbeek was already planning for the opening day of 2023. “Most people already think I work for the Padres. They [assume] I’m the new mascot.” (He is not.) “I am honored, humbled, and excited to even be mentioned in the same breath as the [San Diego] Chicken and [Swinging] Friar,” he says, referencing past official team mascots. His ultimate goal for the freestyle-rapping Padre Libre character “is to let the Padres eventually take full reign of my character when I can no longer do it. I feel Padre Libre has great potential for the future and is a fun element at Petco.”

Video:

"Save Our Bolts - On the Real" by Padre Libre

A YouTuber who calls himself RPS said of Hornbeek, “San Diego is fortunate to have this man! The Padres would be wise to put Padre Libre on the payroll and officialize him. The dude oozes SD!” Before getting nods from Padres fans, Hornbeek gained notoriety for songs he recorded about the San Diego Chargers — before they bolted to Los Angeles, including “Save Our Bolts...On The Real,” “Bolt Up!” and “Don’t Be a Traitor Like a Raider!”

“I used to freestyle rap when I was younger with my peers and such,” he explains. “We loved battling, and we always challenged each other. I am not a rapper, so to say, but people know I have skills.”

John S., a Padres fan and hip-hop head, has watched Hornbeek since the Charger days. “Merc’s got the potential to be an SD icon like the KGB Chicken and the guy dressed as a padre. Merc needs to work on his flow on the mic and some dance steps to get more airtime [on TV]. Since when have you seen a mascot bust a rhyme?”

Let’s go! I’ll see you down at Petco! Machado, Tatis, Soto, Let’s go! / Let’s get a win! A win for Tony Gwynn. Are you in? / San Diego, are you ready? Another win for Caminiti / Let’s go!

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