A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster
It occurred to me a few hours after the Raptors won the NBA championship (I don’t know if you heard about it, they kept it all very quiet) there is a chance big money might be made at professional sporting events. I don’t mean the players, I’m sure they do all right (a mere pittance compared to the bucks on-line columnists rake in no doubt) but I’m thinking an enterprising young gentleman could make a dollar or two selling something at the games – like beer for instance. I’ll bet a thirsty fan wouldn’t mind a cold one on a hot afternoon and – excuse me… Oh! My wife tells me they already do that. What about hot dogs, Mary? Really, they sell them too and have for ages. What about team clothes with the players’ name across the… ball caps then; the kind that bozos can wear backwards even in restaurants with table cloths? Damn! Now I have to think of another way to make a buck.
I didn’t know how far the sporting world had come financially until just now, but then I haven’t been able to afford to watch a live game since they did away with the voluntary silver collection at the gate. I do remember a spectator reaching in to the hat to make change for a quarter was frowned upon – especially if the gate keeper noticed he only put in a nickel in the first place. It certainly wasn’t necessary for him to single me out in front of my friends – friends, I’m sure, who put in nothing at all.
I wonder how long these moneymaking sidelines have been going on. I seem to remember some jerk dumped a beer on an outfielder at the Rogers Centre a few years back so selling beer at a ball park must have been around for a while and I bet it isn’t Doug Ford’s Buck a Beers. I’ll bet Blue Jay fans pay as much as $2.00 maybe even $3.00 especially if it’s in the 90s (that’s Fahrenheit, I don’t know what 90 is in that Celsius crap).
My Dad took me to a leaf game at the Gardens in the 40’s and he didn’t offer me a Dow Ale so maybe it wasn’t available. But then I was only 8 so it would have been a waste of a good beer, what with me staggering around and very likely throwing up all over my breeches, or whatever they called those horrible pants that laced up at the knees. My God, we must have looked stupid. No wonder girls laughed at us.
Seriously (or as serious as I usually get) how long has this been going on? Did Henry the 8th peddle a few pints of Newcastle Brown Ale at a public hanging or head removal to help defray the cost of the rope, or axe sharpening? From what I gather from a few of the old guard at the legion, who were quite likely around at the time, a public execution was a good way for families to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon. If it was someone notable getting it like a Queen or a Noble like Sir Thomas More, Henry might even let the kids out of school for the day. Old Hank wouldn’t miss a chance like that to add to his treasury.
Were there peddlers hawking lukewarm beer (I’m sorry that’s the way Brits drink it – poor simple souls) when Robin and his Merry Men were robbing the Rich and giving it to the Poor? (Less a few pence or two for arrowheads and a new brassiere for Maid Marion).
There is nothing mentioned about wine salesmen in the Roman Coliseum when Russell Crowe was a gladiator, but I wouldn’t doubt for a minute there were dozens of shysters hawking wineskins of Marsala up and down the stadium.
“How much? A bronze piece for this swill, you must be out of your Thracian mind. By the way, Marcus, did you hear Caesar got iced this afternoon coming out of the Senate. His missus, Calpurnia, warned him, “Julie, Don’t go!’ she said, ‘Julie, don’t go!””
Nowhere is it mentioned what the wine sales were at the first Olympic Game in Greece when all the athletes ran around bare naked, but if all they had was that dreadful Retsina I would say they were close to nothing.
“Briseis, who is that woman rubbing SPF 50 suntan lotion all over your boyfriend, Achilles?”
“Oh, that’s just the team nurse. WAIT A MINUTE! IT’S THAT TROJAN WITCH! HELEN, GET ME MY SPEAR! Say, what do you have in that jug?”