Uriel Heilman’s May 2 story on the tradition of Orthodox vendors at Wrigley Field in Chicago brought back very fond memories for me. I worked there for several years in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Mr. Heilman wrote that “no one seems to know quite how it began.” Well, I do, and I can fill you in. The first Orthodox vendor was Stewart Sheinfeld, a graduate of the Skokie Yeshiva class of 1967. Stewie, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year, was a great guy who somehow found out about the job and got it – it must have been in 1968. I was a classmate of Stewie’s, he later told me about it, and I then eagerly became the second Orthodox vendor. We both were joined subsequently by Larry Hirsch, and the three of us comprised the first generation of Orthodox Chicago vendors. Interestingly, we tended to be among the top earners at the job, which follows a pattern of Jews excelling in almost any profession – even beer vending!
Now I live in Teaneck, and so do Stewie’s sons, Yudy and Yaakov. I can honestly say that vending at Wrigley Field still rates as the best job I ever had. I have many great memories of experiences on that job, beside making a lot of money (on a good day, we could earn over $100 way back in the early 1970s, after turning 21 and being able to sell beer). The Cubs had become a good team in 1969 (remember that awful collapse to the Mets?), and subsequent years the crowds were big, the atmosphere was great, and nothing beat working there.
So when anyone reminisces about the tradition of Orthodox vending at Wrigley Field – which I hope continues – they should also remember the grandfather of all this, one Stewart Sheinfeld, who started it.
May Stewart be fondly remembered for this, as well as for his many other accomplishments during his too-short lifetime!