All-Star vendor steals fans' hearts
As a teen, Bobby Faloon hitched rides to work with the likes of Roberto Clemente.
“He'd make sure I had a ride every day across the Bloomfield Bridge,” recalled Faloon, 59, of Dormont, who started vending at Pirates games in the 1960s at Forbes Field. “He'd give me advice, you know? Be a good kid and all that, stay in school, stay out of trouble.
“I listened. Back then, it wasn't easy. There were a lot of guys running around in the streets, and I came from a rough neighborhood. But I always remembered what those guys — Clemente, Ernie Banks, Willie Stargell — what they told me.
“They were good to me. They always took care of me.”
Aramark, the food and beverage contractor at PNC Park and 10 other Major League Baseball parks, is taking care of him.
Faloon is in New York City this week to work at baseball's annual All-Star game festivities at Citi Field, home of the Mets. Aramark selected him as one of 11 All-Star vendors. With 46 years of service, he has the longest tenure.
Faloon will work at the Home Run Derby on Monday and the All-Star game on Tuesday. While in New York, Faloon and other All-Star vendors will visit underprivileged kids at the Queens Community House in Flushing.
Faloon was a kid when he started his career of selling refreshments to fans.
“Back then, you had to be 13,” he said. “I applied when I was 11, but they said I had to wait. So I sold newspapers outside Forbes until I was old enough.”
Now beer is more expensive, and access to players is not what it used to be, Faloon said, noting that the likes of Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker, while “great guys,” don't pull over and offer him rides to the park.
What hasn't changed is Faloon, lugging a 25-pound tray of beer up and down the aisles along the first base line, kneeling down to pop open a can when a fan raises a finger.
“Bob's one of the greatest,” said Pirates fan Daniel Congdon, 54, of McKees Rocks. “He's in shape, he's really pleasant with the customers, and he's an honest guy. He's the best in the business.”
Paul Hensler, 52, of Mt. Lebanon said he lets other beer vendors pass by.
“I've known Bob a lot of years,” Hensler said in his seats behind the visitor's dugout. “He's personable, friendly. … I'll wait for him just so we can talk a little.”
When Faloon gets to talking, he has stories.
He recalls a series in the '60s against the Dodgers when Don Drysdale pitched one game and fellow Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax took the hill for the next.
“ ‘Don't leave,' they say, 'cause when I start talking I start remembering,” Faloon said of his regular customers. “I remember everything from back then, and then I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday.”
With his seniority and vendor ID 001, Faloon gets first pick of what he sells (always Miller Lite) and where (always along the first base line, lower level).
When he started, it wasn't so easy, he said.
“They'd give me Coke when it was 10 degrees and hot chocolate when it was 80. That's how seniority works,” he said. “But I could still sell it. Whatever they gave me, I sold it.”
He believes the first rule to being a good vendor is to hustle.
“That's No. 1,” he said, pausing between innings to drink a bottle of water as sweat drips off his nose. “I've always been able to hustle, no matter what. And you have to have a strong voice, good legs and a good personality.”
In the third inning of a game the Pirates would win in 11 against the Mets, Faloon stood near the right field corner and scanned the faces in another standing-room only crowd. The Bucs' winning ways have started a buzz at the ballpark, he said, an electricity that reminds him of better days in the '70s, when the Pirates last won the World Series.
“Lot of families tonight,” he said. “I can't wait to get to the ballpark when it's like this.”
He paused. “I think this year's going to be different. I think they're going to hold up this time. They're not going to fold like the last couple years.”
He picked up his tray of beers and resumed walking up and down the aisles, shouting into the warm night: “Miller Lite, here — heeeey, Miller Lite.”
Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- No federal funds to help enforce Pa. ban on texting by drivers
- Allegheny County Council wants to hike members’ $3K expense accounts
- Defying the odds makes this Thanksgiving particularly poignant
- Millions in pollution fines went unused for decades in Allegheny County
- Growth spurs expanded staff at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
- Rare surgery helps woman beat paralysis
- Girl, 12, rescues 4-year-old sister from burning house in Homestead
- U.S. Steel to relocate corporate headquarters on former Civic Arena site
- Horse racing industry banks on Wolf
- Group’s proposed fracking moratorium for Allegheny County parks to go on council agenda
- Stores creating Thanksgiving dine-and-dash dilemma