Les Flake: “The Beer Guy’s Here…”
Famed Indians beer vendor Les Flake has worked at Cleveland Indians games since 1974. A Cleveland native, Flake sat down with TribeVibe to discuss his job and his passion for baseball.
TribeVibe: What is your best memory as an Indians fan?
Les Flake: There are many. I have been doing this for a long time — since ’74. I remember Beer Night; that was my first year, and I was selling hot foot-longs. I remember I was down there, and it was crazy. I remember the 80s team. The team in ’95 was always good; that was the best year ever for me. After all those years of watching bad baseball, ’95 was a special year.
TV: Who is your favorite player on the current Indians roster?
LF: Jason Kipnis. He’s like a vendor; he works hard. He’s out there hustling. He’s out there every day working hard. I like Kipnis. He could be a great vendor, that kid.
TV: What is the best part of coming to work every day?
LF: The fans, the ballpark, the atmosphere. My day starts at the national anthem when that kid says, ‘Play ball.’ Something magical happens about baseball. If you’re a baseball fan, it’s magical. Something happens at the first pitch, and that kid says, ‘Play ball.’ When you hear the fans talking, excited, it’s beautiful.
TV: What is your favorite thing about Cleveland?
LF: The sports, the weather — even though it’s not great all the time, I like it.
TV: Are you a Cleveland legend?
LF: Everywhere I go, that’s what they tell me. I don’t know about calling myself a legend; I wouldn’t do that. Everywhere I go, they say, ‘You’re the Beer Guy.’ Everywhere. I mean, buses, airports, libraries, church, no matter where. I don’t know them, but they know me.
TV: Do you take pride in being well-known?
LF: Yeah, I think that’s part of hard work. I like my job. I’ve been doing this for [almost] 40 years. I like what I do for a living. Since I like what I do for a living, I think it shows other people. It shows because I like it so [much].
TV: Did you ever imagine that you would be so well-known in Cleveland?
LF: I wasn’t selling beer in ’74; I was in high school. I figured I’d do it in high school, go to college. I kind of liked it, then I started doing football season, then baseball, then basketball season came around. Here I am.
TV: Do you still work for the Cavaliers and Browns as well?
LF: Yeah, baseball is my favorite because football’s nice, basketball’s nice, but baseball’s nice because it’s more family-oriented. Cavs have fans, Browns have fans, but baseball, you see your sons and daughters, mothers explain who’s on first, teach them the rule book, teach them how to score on a score card. Baseball is very unique. Kids like it. It’s America’s pastime.
TV: If the Indians are not home on a typical day, how do you spend your time?
LF: I am always working. I work at Blossom. If I’m not here, I am working or reading. I like to read. Right now, I’m reading a book on the Titanic about the survivors.
-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor