The song may encourage buyers to go for the peanuts and Cracker Jack, but when it comes to concession sales, nobody tops the beer man. Vendors selling suds at big league parks—by far the most coveted of stadium sales jobs—can make as much as $200 a game.
All hawkers, as stadium vendors are known, are paid mainly on commission, which ranges from 10% to 20% of their sales. "The more effort they put into it, the more they make," says Tom Olson, who runs the concessions at Milwaukee's Miller Park. Beer vendors typically make a smaller percentage (10% at Miller versus 12% to 15% for food vendors) because their product moves faster and costs more. Hot dog and souvenir vendors earn in the $75 to $100 range. Peanut and soda guys are low on the totem pole; they're lucky to pull in $75 a game.
Crowd size, weather and the length of a game all affect sales. "You do much better business on a hot, muggy night," says Dan Smith, a senior VP for concessionaire Volume Services America. "Now that games are longer, you've got a much bigger window to sell. Back in the 70s, when guys like Ron Guidry pitched two-hour games, you really had to move." Who staffs the stands? Most vendors are part-timers; many are retirees or schoolteachers, who, like their students, make the most of summer by spending it at the ballpark.