9 Famous Baseball Stadium Vendors

A good stadium vendor can make you forget that you're forking over $7.50 for 16 ounces "“ or four bites "“ of fleeting enjoyment. A bad stadium vendor can ruin your ballpark experience and your wallet. If you were to field a lineup of All-Star hawkers, you could do worse than this group.

1. Roger Owens: The Peanut Guy

The Dodger Stadium icon, who celebrated 50 years as a vendor last season, can toss bags of peanuts under his leg or behind his back to fans seated 30 rows away with uncanny accuracy. Owens' vending career began at the age of 15, when he sold soda at the L.A. Coliseum to help earn his family grocery money. By the time Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, the former high school pitcher was hawking peanuts and honing his bag-throwing skills at home. Owens began to showcase his skills in the stands and before long became known as The Peanut Guy. Owens reached celebrity status when he made his first of four appearances on The Tonight Show in September 1976. (Johnny Carson nailed himself in the crotch when he attempted an under-the-leg toss.) The next year, Jimmy Carter invited Owens to toss peanuts at his presidential inauguration festivities. Owens' celebrity has only grown since then. While he continues to delight fans in the second deck along the third base line at Dodger Stadium, Owens has taken his peanut-tossing act to stadiums throughout the country and abroad. In 2004, Owens' nephew, Daniel S. Green, published a biography of Owens, The Perfect Pitch.

2. Walter "Wally" McNeil: The Beerman

McNeil, who took a part-time job as a beer vendor at the Metrodome in 1982, is one of the few vendors to be featured on the NBC Nightly News and in an issue of Sports Illustrated. McNeil developed a huge following among Twins supporters, who came to recognize his shouts of "beer here," in part thanks to the autographed baseball cards picturing himself that he would hand out. McNeil, who worked as an operations manager for a pharmaceutical firm by day, has become a Minnesota celebrity in the 27 years that he has hawked beer during Twins, Vikings, and Golden Gophers games at the Metrodome. He has filmed commercials for local liquor stores and PSAs about the dangers of drunk driving, and if you're so inclined, you can still find his baseball card on eBay.

3. Marc Rosenberg: The Lemonade Shaking Guy

When Rosenberg agreed to work a few games at Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards as a favor for a friend in 1996, he figured he'd be working behind a counter. Instead he was charged with selling lemonade in the upper deck. Three days into the job, Rosenberg became so annoyed with kids yelling to get his attention that he put his tray down and did what any self-respecting guy in his shoes would do: he shook his body "“ violently. The fans loved it and Rosenberg adopted the shaking routine as his shtick. He became accustomed to receiving $20 tips at the ballpark and eventually parlayed his part-time diversion into a second career as a motivational speaker, auctioneer, and performer, appearing regularly at private parties and corporate functions. Rosenberg isn't the only stadium lemonade guy to start his own business: Kansas City's Jesus "Chuy" Gomez launched a concessions business in 2005 after working six years at Kauffman Stadium, where he announced his presence with distinct shouts of "Lee-mo-nade, lee-mo-nade, lee-mo-nade. Wooooo!"

4. Charley Marcuse: Opera Man

For the last 11 seasons, Charley Marcuse has sold hot dogs at Detroit Tigers home games by singing the words "hot dog" in operatic falsetto. Marcuse, who started vending at Tiger Stadium as a 19-year-old, appeared on Good Morning America in 2004 after a few stadium critics tried to silence him. Marcuse's supporters started a "Free Charley" Web site in support of the former acting student and he was eventually allowed to resume his singing routine on a limited, four-times-per-game basis. When he's not making an estimated $400 per game selling hot dogs, Marcuse works for a men's clothing retailer and continues to develop his company, Charley's Food Inc. His first product, Charley's Ballpark Mustard, debuted in 2008 and is currently available in more than 60 stores and restaurants in the Detroit area. Fans at Comerica Park won't find Marcuse's mustard at the concession stands, however, as Marcuse doesn't want to risk offending the vending company that employs him.

5. Brent Doeden: Captain Earthman

 For fans in the outfield bleachers at Denver's Coors Field, Captain Earthman is only a phone call away. The veteran beer vendor, who has been described as an "intergalactic space hippie," hands out cards with his cellphone number "“ and a Planetary Location Number to boot "“ to all of his loyal customers. Doeden, who wears peanut earrings, black gloves, and a variety of crazy hats, revealed the origins of his nickname to a Denver Post reporter in 2000. "We were all sitting around drinking, smoking about 24 years ago," Doeden said. "I ended up with a pipe in one hand and a joint in the other and a beer in front of me. And, I said, "˜If it's from the earth, man, I'll smoke it.'" The rest is history, much like the cans of Budweiser that Doeden has carried up and down the outfield bleachers of Coors Field since it opened in 1995.

6. Clarence Haskett: Fancy Clancy

 Clarence "Clancy" Haskett has sold beer and entertained fans for three decades at Orioles home games. If you're fortunate enough to get in good with Haskett "“ hint: tip early and often "“ he'll start you a tab. A Baltimore City Paper tagged along with Clancy during a game in 2004 and got to witness his signature move, a backbend over the handrail while handing out bottles of beer. As the slogan goes, "If you want it served fancy, get it from Clancy." In addition to working the local stadiums, Haskett is also vice president of All Pro Vending, a vending management company that won a contract to supply vendors for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. [Photo via Flickr user Phil Romans.]

7. Perry Hahn: Robo-Vendor

In order to make up for what he calls his lack of natural talent, Hahn put his mechanical engineering degree to good use. The University of Maryland graduate, who works at stadiums in the D.C. area, started to design a contraption to help expedite the beer opening process while working at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium in 1991. His latest version of the device sheers the lids off of two beer cans simultaneously. The Robo-Vendor, as Hahn's fans and colleagues sometimes call him, can open and pour two beers in six seconds. Hahn estimates that he spent $4,500 to develop and patent his device, which once helped him sell 25 cases during a single game. [Photo via Flickr user dontdothisathome.]

8. Dan Ferrone: A Chicago Original

 Ferrone made $2 selling soda on his first day as a vendor at Wrigley Field in 1938 and watched the Yankees sweep the Cubs in the World Series that season. For the next 57 years, Ferrone hawked soda, peanuts, beer, and programs at Chicago's baseball mecca before leaving the job late in the 1995 season. During that time, Ferrone, a military veteran who moved into the Oak Park YMCA around 1960, worked 30 years as a Postal Service employee and 11 more at a bank. He began vending full-time in 1981, working both Cubs and White Sox games for several years before eventually giving up his gig on the South Side. Ferrone sold programs at Wrigley Field in the seasons leading up to his retirement and often said he hoped to be the first vendor elected to baseball's Hall of Fame.

9. Leslie Flake: The Beer Guy

Flake tells you everything you need to know about him in his booming sales pitch. He's not the milkman. He's not the mailman. He's not the taxman. He's the beer guy, and he's been a staple at Cleveland Indians home games for years.

Remembering Tom Dempsey, the Toeless NFL Kicker Who Set a 43-Year Field Goal Record

Kicker Tom Dempsey #19 of the Philadelphia Eagles kicks off against the Washington Redskins during an NFL football game at Veterans Stadium November 10, 1974 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Kicker Tom Dempsey #19 of the Philadelphia Eagles kicks off against the Washington Redskins during an NFL football game at Veterans Stadium November 10, 1974 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

On April 4, 2020 former NFL legend Tom Dempsey—who set a field goal record with the New Orleans Saints nearly 50 years ago—passed away in New Orleans at the age of 73. It has been reported that Dempsey, who has been battling Alzheimer's disease and dementia since 2012, contracted coronavirus in March and his death was the result of complications from COVID-19. Read on to learn more about Dempsey's remarkable life.

 
 

Things weren't looking good for the New Orleans Saints on the evening of November 8, 1970, during a televised game against the Detroit Lions at Tulane Stadium. Though Saints quarterback Billy Kilmer had managed to connect with receiver Al Dodd on a 17-yard pass that stopped the clock, New Orleans was still down 17-16 with just two seconds left in the game. Worse yet, they were on their own 37-yard line—leaving 63 yards between them and the end zone.

Saints head coach J.D. Roberts, who had only been hired the week before, huddled with offensive coordinator Don Heinrich to quickly consider their options. There weren’t any. Suddenly, kicker Tom Dempsey, who had joined the team the year before, materialized. “I can kick it,” Dempsey told Roberts.

Dempsey would later recall that he didn’t know exactly how far the ball had to travel or that it would be an NFL record if he nailed it. If he had, he said, maybe he would’ve gotten too nervous and shanked it. But kicking the ball was what Dempsey did, even though he was born with only half of a right foot.

Heinrich sighed. There was no other choice. “Tell Stumpy to get ready,” he said.

 

Dempsey was born on January 12, 1947, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and later moved with his family to California. As a student at San Dieguito High School in Encinitas, California, Dempsey appeared unbothered by the congenital defect that resulted in a partial right foot and four missing fingers on his right hand. Dempsey wrestled and ran track. In football, he used his burly frame—he would eventually be 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weigh 255 pounds—to clobber opposing players as an offensive lineman. When coaches wanted to send opponents flying, they called in Dempsey.

After high school, Dempsey went on to attend Palomar Junior College in San Marcos, California, where he played football as a defensive end. At one point, when the team was in need of a kicker, the coach asked his players to line up and do their best to send the ball in the air. None kicked harder or farther than Dempsey, who became the kicker for the team and performed while barefoot, wrapping the end of his foot in athletic tape.

Tom Dempsey's modified football shoe is pictured
Tom Dempsey's modified football shoe.
Bullock Texas State History Museum

Playing at Palomar prepared Dempsey for a dual role as both lineman and kicker. But his strength, which made him so formidable on the field, occasionally got him into trouble on the sidelines, and he would eventually be kicked off the Palomar team for punching one of his coaches. After the incident, Dempsey tried out for the Green Bay Packers but found the physicality of professional players a little too much for him to handle. Rather than get into on-field collisions as an offensive lineman, he decided to focus solely on the aptitude he seemed to have for kicking. He eventually earned a spot on the San Diego Chargers practice squad in 1968. There, head coach Sid Gillman decided to encourage his choice of position—with some modifications.

Gillman enlisted an orthopedist to help develop a special leather shoe for Dempsey to wear. The boot had a block of leather 1.75 inches thick at one end and was mostly flat. Instead of kicking it soccer-style, as most players do today, Dempsey was able to use his leg like a mallet and hammer the ball with a flat, blunt surface.

The shoe, which cost $200 to fabricate, came in handy when Dempsey joined the Saints in 1969. He made 22 out of 41 field goals his rookie year and found himself in the Pro Bowl. But the 1970 season was comparatively dismal, and the Saints were holding a 1-5-1 record when they met the Detroit Lions on that night in November.

With two seconds left, “Stumpy” (Dempsey found the nickname affectionate rather than offensive) trotted onto the field. At 63 yards, he would have to best the then-record set by Baltimore Colts kicker Bert Rechichar in 1953 by seven yards.

No one appeared to think this was within the realm of possibility—you could almost hear a chuckle in CBS commentator Don Criqui's voice when he announced that Dempsey would be attempting the feat. Even the Lions seemed apathetic, not overly concerned with attempting to smother the play.

The ball was snapped by Jackie Burkett and received by Joe Scarpati, who gave it a quarter-turn. Dempsey remembered advice once given to him by kicking legend Lou “The Toe” Groza: Keep your head down and follow through. He took a step toward the ball and swung his leg like a croquet mallet, smashing into the football with a force that those on or near the field compared to a loud bang or a cannon. It sailed 63 yards to the goal post, which at the time was positioned directly on the goal line, and just made it over the crossbar.

Below, the referee threw his hands in the air to indicate the kick was good, punctuating it with a little hop of excitement. Dempsey was swarmed by his teammates and coaches. Don Criqui’s attitude in the booth quickly switched from amusement to incredulity. The Saints had won, 19-17.

“I don’t believe this,” Criqui exclaimed.

Neither could fans. In an era before instant replay, ESPN, or YouTube, you either caught Dempsey’s game-winning play or you heard about it at work or school the next week. Owing to its fleeting existence in the moment, schoolyards and offices filled with stories about how Dempsey’s boot may have somehow been augmented with a steel plate or other modification to boost his kicking prowess.

No such thing occurred, though that didn’t stop criticism. Tex Schramm, an executive with the Dallas Cowboys and chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, thought the shoe was an unfair advantage that allowed Dempsey to smash the ball like a golf club hitting a dimpled target. In 1977, the NFL instituted the “Tom Dempsey Rule,” which mandates that anyone and everyone has to wear a shoe shaped like a full foot. There would be no more allowances for special orthopedic shapes.

Dempsey appeared to take it all in stride. Shortly after his victorious kick, he received a letter from President Richard Nixon congratulating him on his inspirational demonstration. Immediately after the game, police officers went in to congratulate him by handing him cases of Dixie beer. Dempsey's girlfriend (and future wife) Carlene recalled that he didn’t come home for days due to rampant partying. When he finally settled down, they got married.

 

Dempsey spent a total of 11 years in the NFL, playing for the Saints, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Los Angeles Rams, the Houston Oilers, and finally the Buffalo Bills. In total, he made 159 field goals out of 258 attempts. For the next several decades, he would work as a salesman in the oil industry and manage a car lot before retiring in 2008 and settling down back near New Orleans. Over the years, Dempsey made several appearances at autograph shows, where he was regularly peppered with questions about the one kick that defined his career.

Almost as amazing as the kick was its attrition in the record books. While several other men managed to tie Dempsey’s record, it wasn’t until Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos kicked a 64-yard field goal on December 8, 2013, that it was finally broken—almost 43 years to the day. Some observers note that most of these notable field goals took place in Denver, where the air is thin and presumably more hospitable to kicking for distance. Dempsey managed it in New Orleans—and without toes.

Curiously, Dempsey’s legendary play was actually foreshadowed one year earlier. On October 5, 1969, he kicked a 55-yard field goal in Los Angeles. That was just one yard shy of the record he would obliterate the following year.

6 Times the Olympics Have Been Postponed or Canceled

Sander van Ginkel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Sander van Ginkel, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been officially postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan agreed to push the start date back to 2021 after Canada, Australia, and other countries announced they would not send athletes to the Summer Games this July.

The Summer Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world, typically bringing more than 10,000 athletes from dozens of countries together every four years, The New York Times reports.

It's extremely rare for the Summer or Winter Olympics to be postponed or canceled. Since 1896, when the modern Olympic Games began, it has happened only six times—and it usually requires a war.

The Olympic Games were canceled during World War I and World War II. The 1940 Summer Games, scheduled to take place in Tokyo, were postponed due to war and moved to Helsinki, Finland, where they were later canceled altogether. The current coronavirus pandemic marks the first time the competition has ever been temporarily postponed for a reason other than war. Here's the full list.

  1. 1916 Summer Olympics // Berlin, Germany
  1. 1940 Summer Olympics // Tokyo, Japan and Helsinki, Finland
  1. 1940 Winter Olympics // Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  1. 1944 Summer Olympics // London, United Kingdom
  1. 1944 Winter Olympics // Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
  1. 2020 Summer Olympics // Tokyo, Japan

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