Clarence Haskett, better known to Orioles fans as “Fancy Clancy,” has been a fixture at Orioles games for 45 years as one of its beloved beer vendors. We caught up with him and heard about his memories in Camden Yards and his predictions for the club’s future.
It was something I started when I was young. I enjoyed baseball. I played baseball when I was young. It was my way of getting in the game for free and watching games. ... I started working over there when I was like 15-years-old. It just became a little part time job for me over the years. I’ve always had some type of steady job during the daytime after I got out of college, but I’ve always kept this job as a part-time job.
When you started did you ever imagine you would be doing it over 40 years later?
No, I never would have imagined something like that. One thing that was pretty easy for me to do is I had other part-time jobs, and the money that I made on those other part time jobs was nowhere close to the money that I make at Orioles. ... I think I worked at McDonald’s for one month. But I was looking at my checks that I was making for a week ... I worked six days, eight hours and make $90 when I was working two days, two hours each day, making that kind of money. So it was a no-brainer that this was the part time job for me, not working at McDonald’s, nothing like that.
You've made quite a name for yourself. When did you start making yourself stand out and where did you get the ideas to do that?
When I was young, I used to move a whole lot quicker than other vendors because ... I was an All-American in track and field at Catonsville Community College ... And then over time, I started saying little rhymes like “Who’s thirsty? Don’t stand in line. Buy mine.” So, you know, those little lines started to develop over the years. And then I guess in the mid-80s, when I was selling beer, I was able to pour one beer — because back in those days we had to pour a beer out of the can and into the cup — so I was able to pour one beer with one hand and then I was able to pour two beers at a time. And then I was able to pour it over my back. So that’s where the Fancy Clancy part came in. One customer said “Hey that looks pretty fancy, Clancy.” And from that point on, I got the name of Fancy Clancy.
What has this transition period been like?
Working the stadium, I just want to make sure that my customers don’t leave. ... To be totally honest with you, a lot of my customers haven’t left. Even though the team is not winning, I’m still doing good. ... Because, see, the side of the stadium that I work on, I work on the Orioles side of the field. So a lot of those people are not giving up those tickets. So I still pretty much make the same amount of money, no matter if the team is doing good or if the team is doing bad. Maybe not as much, but I’m not doing as bad as some vendors could be doing.
Do you think, especially with the team not doing well, do you think you play a part in keeping fans coming?
Yes I do. Because I’m a mainstay. A lot of fans say, “Hey Clancy. I remember you from Memorial Stadium. Are you still here?” ... And this is no joke, about 10-15 times every single game. ... When a lot of Orioles fans show up, I get this question: How long have you been here? I get that question 10-15 times every single game. A lot of fans, they come to the game, and they say, “Man, you’ve been here since I was a little kid.”
What do you see of this new team from a baseball standpoint?
I mean, the hitting is there, you know what I mean? We’ve got to get to the position where we get more pitching. I think the team is going to be good. I don’t even think it’s going to take that long to be honest with you. You get a couple new pitchers in there, and then we’re right there. Because the hitting ain’t bad. And the defense ain’t bad. And you see the speed on the base paths. I think they’re going to be good sooner rather than later.
Do you have a go-to line that you use?
Oh, yeah, I have a couple of them. Like, one of my lines, I use when someone asks maybe the person they’re sitting next to “Would you like to have a beer?” And that person says “No, I’m OK.” And then one of my main lines that I use, I say “There are no instant replays in life. When are you going to start enjoying yourself?” And then I look at the person. I say, “What flavor do you like?” And then they say, “No, I’m OK. I’m OK.” And then I throw another line on them. I say “The best-tasting beer is when someone else pays for it. What flavor do you like?” By the time I use those two lines, the person says, “All right, I’m drinking whatever. Give me a Bud Light” or something like that. So those two lines pretty much work.
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What made you decide to go down to Arizona to see Adam Jones?
I’ve been at the stadium for 45 years. I’ve been in communication with players in the dugout because I’m so close to the dugout ... And me and Adam Jones just established a good relationship just by doing that. When the Orioles won the division a couple years ago, he actually pulled me down on the field, and I was a part of the celebration. So that was really a special moment for me. No other player has really done that for me. ... So Adam Jones, I just had a good liking to Adam Jones. When the Orioles traded him away, and I looked at the schedule, and we were going to play Arizona, I said, hey, I got to go to this game. ... And I said, let me try to get some good seats, so I can try to holler at Adam Jones ... So we saw him on the field, and I waved at him. He yelled at me. And just before he went in the dugout, he came over and me and him were embracing. That was a special moment. And he signed my Adam Jones jersey, so that was pretty cool.
Beyond Adam Jones, have you reached out or kept in touch with any of the other players that left recently?
Not really, not really. Now, Wayne Kirby, the first base coach, I’ve hit him on Instagram a couple of times. But he didn’t really hit me back. ... He was pretty cool. Matter of fact, he gave me his shoes. I still have his shoes. I haven’t worn them enough. I just have them in my Oriole basement.
What are you most excited for in the near future with the Orioles?