Baseball fandoms last a lifetime—and so do MLB vendor gigs, for a committed few. Take John Culin, who’s seen the Phillies through two stadiums, a handful of concerts, thousands of hot dogs, and countless cold beers during his 50-year tenure as a ballpark concessions vendor. Culin started selling hot dogs in 1971, when he was 16, during the inaugural season at Philadelphia’s now-defunct Veterans Stadium. Now, per Philly’s Action News, the 66-year-old vendor is still at it, slinging beers and dogs for his beloved side hustle.
“If I thought of this as a job I probably would not have lasted this long,” Culin told Action News, explaining that the part-time job is more of a passion than an occupation. (He also works full-time as an insurance adjustor.) He sees the gig as an opportunity to get to know Phillies fans, who are proud members of a notoriously wild fan base.
“I don’t care what people in the newspapers and all say about Phillies fans,” Culin told Action News. “The Phillies fans that I run into are the best people in the world.”
Of course, Culin was forced to take an extended hiatus when fans were barred from ballparks at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This past June, when we got the call to come back, was the best news I’ve received in a long, long time,” he said.
He adds that he’s also befriended the wives of various Phillies players who sat behind home plate—although hustling around the ballpark has grown slightly more challenging over the years. Culin jokes that walking up and down the aisles was easier at Veterans Stadium, which closed to make way for Citizens Bank Park in 2004.
“As much as I like this stadium, the steps at the Vet were better,” he told Action News. “These steps are three feet long, so you have to take two steps on every one.” If you ever find yourself cheering on the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, keep an eye out for Culin. If you ask me, he’s a better mascot than the Phanatic.