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Going All Pro: A Night with Clancy

Opening Day 2010 will mark Clancy Haskett's 36th year as a vendor for the Baltimore Orioles. (© Andrew Markowitz)
Opening Day 2010 will mark Clancy Haskett's 36th year as a vendor for the Baltimore Orioles. (© Andrew Markowitz)

This past Friday night I attended the screening of Going All Pro, the documentary created about Orioles vendor and Baltimore celebrity Clancy Haskett. I'd heard years ago that a documentary was being created about Clancy, but didn't know it had actually been completed until the link was posted here a few days ago. It was a last minute decision to go but I'm really glad I did. 

The screening was held by the Creative Alliance, which takes up residence in The Patterson, the old theater on Eastern Avenue in Canton (Highlandtown?). I arrived about five minutes before the scheduled 7 p.m. start time and found the small theater to be almost full, I'd say between 75-100 people were there. Clancy was working the crowd, laughing it up with everyone, calling out to people he recognized. It was a warm, intimate atmosphere. 

The documentary itself was about 40 minutes long. It focused mainly on Clancy, his day-to-day life, and his ascension from vendor to business owner. For those who don't know, Clancy and his business partners (and fellow vendors) started All Pro Vending in 1996, the company that runs the vending for M&T Bank Stadium and RFK Stadium. It also gave a glimpse into his family life (he and his wife met at Memorial Stadium during the 1983 World Series...awww) and his past. Also plentiful were interviews with other vendors, many of whom you'd recognize in an instant. Howard, Danny and Perry, the Shaky Lemonade guy who now sells beer, and more. I'm not sure how well the film would translate to non-Orioles fans as hearing their stories was, to me, like getting to know a friend. But for Orioles fans who have spent years around these guys it was pretty great.

Following the screening, Clancy and the filmmaker, Charles Cohen, participated in an audience Q&A that lasted longer than the documentary itself. Clancy said he could tell vendor stories all day, and the truth is I could have listened to them all day. He said that at last count he's worked 38 different venues all over the country, including NASCAR, Wrestlemania, boxing. He told one story about working a Mike Tyson fight and selling one case of beer prior to the fight and then running back to get two more cases a few minutes before it started but by the time he got them and got back the fight was over as it only lasted 90 seconds.

One focus of the documentary was vendor competition. Because they are re-ranked every month they are constantly trying to outdo each other. But when Clancy talked about vending at Nationals Park (when O's fans see him there he tells them he's wearing an Orioles t-shirt under his Nationals jersey), he said that the vendors who work both places don't work Nationals Park so much for the money and competition as they do to stay in shape for when the Orioles come back to town, because everything about it is so much less intense. I thought that was pretty interesting considering the entire time the Nationals have existed the Orioles have been a bad team with relatively poor attendance.

The most striking thing about the evening was the overwhelming feeling of affection. Most of the people in the audience didn't know each other, but we all knew Clancy, and he knew many of us as well. Person after person expressed their gratitude to Clancy and the other vendors for enriching their game experiences, and one woman told him that the players come and go, the team is sometimes (usually) bad and sometimes good, and that with everything that changes, it's the vendors and ushers and people you see every time you go to the game, the people with whom you build relationships, that make Camden Yards like home for so many people. And she was right. I love the players and I love the game and the team, but it's guys like Clancy that are the heart and soul of the stadium itself.

If you've spent time at Camden Yards and gotten to know the vendors at all I think you'll enjoy the DVD. The clips and interviews of them are enjoyable and getting to know a bit about Clancy's background was pretty interesting as well. You can order the DVD online at Atomic Books if you're interested. I bought one for myself at the screening, so I think it's worth it.