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Hey, Beer Guy!

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Roving beer vendors debut at the Coliseum this homestand!

The roving beer vendors, back in action at the Coliseum
Photo courtesy Oakland Athletics Booster Club

If you’ve ever been to a stadium anywhere outside of California, you’ll notice that there are people walking around selling beer, to everyone, at their seat. For those who were going to games at the Coliseum watching the 70’s champs, you likely remember the roving beer vendors with some nostalgia, ensuring that the bleacher bums stayed lubricated at all times.

However, since the 1980’s, liquor permits for sports stadiums in California have not permitted roving beer vendors, except at premium full-service seats where waiters take food and drink orders. (This was characterized as a “gentlemen’s agreement” with the CHP). Perhaps, with the advent of ride-share services and the popularity of public transit, the state liquor board decided to relax the rules. Whatever the reason, sports fans got a big win last month and the A’s immediately took advantage by re-instituting the the classic “beer guy” (or beer gal!).

The roving beer vendor is a tradition worldwide. When I went to a game in Japan, they had beer girls lugging kegs around, pouring your beer right at your seat!

Japan’s roving beer girls

In addition to the novelty of not having to leave your seat for a refreshing brew, the A’s announce that this will create 40-50 new jobs for folks. Unfortunately the roving food and drink vendors are not part of the union that handles the concession stands, and their pay is straight commission on sales and tips. This relatively depressing story about “Crazylegs,” the A’s and Giants’ ubiquitous roving kettle corn vendor, pulls back the curtain from the lovable dancing ballpark personality to reveal an elderly man who has to commute from west Sacramento and sleep at hostels to make ends meet. With beer for sale, those commissions and tips are surely higher than popcorn, giving a potential uplift to the hardworking concessionaires.

Granted, lines at the Coliseum beer stands aren’t typically formidable, but beyond the convenience, there’s something about the interaction, and the ritual, the shouting out “Hey, beer guy!” that’s nice to have. It’s tradition. And it’s finally back at the A’s games.

With that, I’ll leave you with Bud Light’s classic homage to beer vendors: