Being a vendor at Fenway Park is tough. Demanding fans, drunken idiots, whining kids, narrow staircases. Still, there are worse ways to spend a summer than hanging at the ballpark every night. We’d know. Mike Griffin, who’s been hawking goods at Major League Baseball’s oldest ballpark for 23 seasons, recently allowed me to work as a peanut vendor alongside him for a day. Here is what I discovered.
Nine Things You Didn’t Know About Your Fenway Park Vendor
1. They want to sell you goods.
There is no need to yell, wave frantically, or get annoyed when you are passed by. Vendors work on commission. “The more we sell, the more we make,” Griffin says. “I think sometimes fans just need a little more patience.”
2. These guys know they’re lucky.
Have you ever seen the turnout for a midweek day game in Miami? Abysmal. “We’ve been blessed here in Boston with the sellouts,” Griffin says. “So no matter what section you work or what product you sell, you’re going to do pretty well as far as volume goes.”
3. Yes, it’s heavy.
“I’d say 30 to 40 pounds for hot dogs, and that’s just the case,” Griffin says. “And peanuts is maybe five to 10 pounds. Cotton candy is the lightest, obviously.”
4. It’s a great weight-loss plan.
You are climbing stairs and running around the ballpark all summer. Those miles turn into calories burned. “I usually lose anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds during the season,” Griffin says.
5. Tipping is certainly appreciated.
There is no policy against tipping, and since the job is commission-based, a little extra never hurts. “People can tip if they want to, absolutely,” Griffin says, “but we don’t highlight it or anything.”
6. There’s a friendly competition.
“We push each other,” Griffin says. “If I’m on peanuts with another guy in the same area, every time we go back in to reload the bag, we look at the sheet to see where the next guy is.”
7. Injuries happen.
“I broke my ankle in the ’90s selling Coke,” Griffin says. “I was in left field and came down a row and didn’t see the small step below a bigger step, and I went down. The whole tray of Coke went up in the air and sprayed a bunch of fans.”
8. If you want to get their attention, just raise your hand.
There can be 50 to 80 vendors a night, depending on the game. If you want peanuts, but the hot-dog guy walks by, you can ask him to send over the peanut vendor, and he will. “The fans in Boston are the best,” Griffin says. “They understand the culture of the ballpark, and most will just raise their hand like in school.”
9. The best assignments are beer, hot dogs, and peanuts.
Time on the job determines which items a vendor gets to sell, and fan popularity determines which items are most sought after. “The more seniority, the greater chance you will get what you want to sell,” Griffin says. “Beer is the most popular [though it’s sold only in the lower rows]. And then hot dogs and peanuts.”
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