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Beer vendor has been serving Cardinal fans for 36 years
From Sportsman’s Park to new Busch

Just like apple pie, baseball and the Fourth of July, Selong Smith is a St. Louis summer tradition.

He has been serving up cold beer to St. Louis Cardinals fans for 36 years, beginning at Sportsman’s Park, Busch Stadium II and now at the new Busch Stadium.

Smith’s familiar "Bud Light, Bud Light," can be heard on most home games pushing the popular beverage. Smith works the box seats from the bleachers to section 147 on the first base side. "The key to selling beer is they have to hear you," reveals Smith. "Say it loud. You can distract ’em at times."

Known by everyone who works at the stadium and many of the people that visit, Smith is a beloved familiar fixture. He’s had many regular customers in his sections, but "with the new stadium," he said, "they’re all scattered."

"I like it better," Smith said of the new stadium, adding that the new park is a little trickier for vendors. "It looks better, but the railings in the steps — in the old park you could go all around in one swipe — but this one — it’s in and out, in and out."

"I got a group of guys at the Savvis Center that come up from Tennessee every year — they treat me good. They know I’m gonna take care of them."

In addition to working Busch Stadium, Smith works hockey games and concerts at the Savvis Center and Rams games at the Edward Jones Dome. Sportservice, the outfit that runs the concessions at these venues, have even sent him to Milwaukee and Chicago to work. "This year I went to the Kentucky Derby," Smith added.

"Baseball is No. 1, though," Smith beams. "This is where I started in ’64."

Smith began working at Sportsman’s Park in 1964 and was forced to take a leave of absence when he got a draft notice in the mail. "The same day I got my draft notice, I singed up for the Air Force," Smith recalls. "I got out of the Air Force and I’ve been here ever since."

Smith, having worked 35 years at the government records center on Page Avenue, worked his way up the ladder, ultimately becoming personnel supervisor before retiring four years ago. "When I was coming up, I didn’t have to work. I just did so I wouldn’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul," Smith remarked, extolling the virtues of hard work. "They say I’m a workaholic. All I ever learned from my stepfather was to work," he added.

Although he doesn’t miss the day-to-day grind of a 40-hour a week job, he wouldn’t miss a Cardinals homestand.

Smith imparts his wisdom to the younger vendors who linger around him as the crowds begin to fill the stadium, but enjoys being his own boss. "Nobody can tell me how to sell beer."

Bob Fyfe

Belleville News-Democrat - 19 July 2006
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