Today, the Dodger Delorean takes us back to 1958, the location Eagle Rock, California. This story about this Forever Blue pioneer is an inspirational one. He has been selling and pitching peanuts for the Dodgers since 1958 and for all 50 years at Dodger Staidum. In this episode of Dodgers in time we profile famous Dodger Stadium icon peanut man Roger Owens.
“I’m the only pitcher in the majors making less than a million a year.” “I work for Peanuts”.-Roger Owens Peanut Man and Dodger Stadium Icon
2012 is the 50th anniversary of our beautiful home called Dodger Stadium. Chavez Ravine which is a national landmark, is full of jewels and treasures around every corner. Proof positive Roger Owens, Peanut Guy. Born on Valentines day of 1943, he grew up as a poor kid in Los Angeles. Owens had a rough childhood or so I read. Besides growing up poor, when he was 10 his mother had a mental breakdown and had to be hospitalized. Owens and one of his brothers (Owens was the oldest of nine kids) was shipped around foster care until his mother recovered and returned home. Once his mother was home, Roger began selling sodas at the age of 16 in order to make some extra cash for his family. The year was 1958, the place was the L.A. Coliseum. Owens continued to work for the Dodgers, and moved to Dodger Stadium when it was built in 1962. During those years he supplemented his Dodger Stadium job selling peanuts with another day job selling with a trucker line.
Roger would face another challenge in 1969. That year during national guard training, he was involved in a car accident. The jeep he was riding in flipped over as the driver fell asleep at the wheel. Owens was thrown from the car. He was rushed to the hospital while in a coma. He had to have three major operations in order to save his life. Roger never gave up, recovered, and went back to throwing peanuts at Dodger Stadium.
Roger is an expert at pitching peanuts, and has perfected the art-form. He pitches overhand, underhand, between his legs, and his famous behind the back pitch. Roger has an uncanny ability for accuracy. Roger can pitch to a patron from five rows away and hit them on target. Roger has appeared on t.v., and has even written a book, an autobiography of his life, called The Perfect Pitch
One day back in the late 1990’s, Uncle Mark and myself purchased Dodger Lodge tickets, and went to the game early like we usually did. Our usual routine involved driving up the back way off of Alvarado and Scott St. We entered Dodger Stadium while the Dodgers were taking batting practice. We decided that we were going to look for Roger and meet the Dodger Stadium legend. Roger works the Lodge seats, between sections 101-167. We saw Roger walking around section 167. There was no one around. We walked up to him, introduced ourselves, and asked for his autograph. (below is a pic of his autograph, right above the late Mike Sharperson. I still am not sure who the autograph above Roger’s is?)
(EDIT) The Auto pictured, was actually not Owen’s, but Mondesi’s, and the one above it, I thought may have been Roger’s wasnt, so I deleted the pic out of the post. I promoise as soon as I find Roger’s Auto I will post it for all to see.
He obliged, and was very nice. We chatted with Roger for a bit, before we went back to our seats. When we asked the now 68 year old how he pitches those bags of peanuts so perfectly he responded
“For a senior citizen, I’ll put a little arch on it. I even allow for wind conditions.”
Roger continues pitching peanuts to all patrons in the lodge seats of Dodger Stadium, between aisles 101-167. Roger Owens the boy who grew up with no food, now provides food for hundreds of thousands of Dodger fans every season. So if you are ever sitting in the lodge section of Dodger Stadium, and are in need of a bag of peanuts, look for Roger. Odds are your bag of peanuts will be zipped into your arms as soon as you say “Peanuts!!!” One of Roger’s trade-mark behind the back fastballs. Never give up Dodger fans. This story is a perfect example of brushing yourself off and trying again. Roger Owens, a Forever Blue Dodger Stadium Icon. We salute you.