Getting Hammered With 'Nails'
Jenny Colgate was Veterans Stadium’s first female beer vendor
Published in 2020 Washington DC Super Lawyers magazine on April 22, 2020
One summer, while on break from the University of Pennsylvania, Jenny Colgate found herself working as a campus tour guide while building a side hustle doing administrative work for Morgan Stanley. But, even with two gigs, she wasn’t making much.
“I had a car on campus,” she says, “which was very attractive to some of my friends. Three of them had jobs at Veterans Stadium selling beer, and they said, ‘Hey. You have a car. You should get a job there and then you can drive us.’”
At the time, in 2000, Veterans Stadium was home to the Philadelphia Phillies; it’s since been imploded to make way for Citizens Bank Park.
Selling beer sounded a little off brand for Colgate. “But they were making more money doing that than I did at both my other jobs,” she says. “So I went for it.”
Representatives from Aramark, the stadium’s food and beverage provider, took one look at the then-20-year-old Colgate, 5’1” and around 100 pounds, and told her the best they could offer was soda sales. “The beer is very heavy,” she says. “You’ve got this huge tub, filled with ice, then all the beer. But I grew up on a horse farm—with the nickname ‘Nails,’ because I was a tough cookie. I told them, ‘Listen. I throw bales of hay. I can carry beer.’”
Aramark didn’t buy it and stuck her on soda detail. “I got sick of it fast,” Colgate says. “You didn’t make as much money as you could selling beer: A soda was $3.75 and people rarely bought more than one, versus a few beers at a time for $5, so you’d at least get a $1 tip each sale. And you don’t get regulars selling soda.”
She again pleaded her case to Aramark, and Miller Lite was hers. “‘Ice cold Miller Lite here! Get your ice-cold beer!’ That was my call,” says Colgate, laughing. “Even now it’s hard for me to say that without doing it in ‘the voice.’”
Colgate quickly found out that her summer job was, for some, a career. “These guys had been doing it for decades—you can make a ton of money,” she says. “One of the regulars stopped me to say, ‘Hey. You’re the first woman to do this here.’ So that’s my title: first woman beer vendor at Veterans Stadium.”
What stands out for Colgate from that lackluster Phils season (69-93) was that the beers had just changed from cans to plastic-capped bottles, a remedy for disgruntled fans who crushed up their cans and threw them onto the field. “You had to open the beer for each customer, so after our shifts, we’d all get together and look at how calloused our hands were,” she says. “The more callouses, the more beer you opened. It was bragging rights.”
And while Colgate didn’t find herself in any territorial spats with the career vendors—”I developed my own repeat customers by going down to the main vendor floor, down to the field from third base to home plate, and back and forth there”—she did hear it about her footwear. “The thing that got the most comments, more than my gender, was I had this old pair of leather loafers that I’d wear,” she remembers. “And by the end of the season, they were trashed. The guys gave me a hard time about them.”
As for a transition from beer to the Bar? “I will say, the first time I had to go out, being in a ballpark full of people and just having to yell … that was a terrifying moment,” says Colgate. “And then you get used to it. Similarly, when you’re lawyering, while it’s not a big crowd, a judge can be fairly intimidating. But you get used to it.
“I’m not a huge baseball fan,” she adds. “But that summer was the most fun time in my life. Honestly, if I could go back and do it for another season, I absolutely would.”
Phillies vs. Nationals
|Philadephia Phillies||Washington Nationals|
|Originated||1883, as the Philadelphia Quakers||1969, as the Montreal Expos|
|All-Time Winning Percentage||0.472||0.489|
Of the original 16 franchises, the Phillies were the last to win a World Series (1980).
No franchise in Major League Baseball history has lost more games than the Phillies.
Of the current 30 franchises, the Nationals were the 24th to win a World Series (2019).
No franchise took longer to win a pennant (51 seasons) than the Nationals.