Concessionaire

It's all in the wrist.

By Matthew Boyle, Fortune writer

(Fortune Magazine) -- Roger Owens, peanut vendor, Dodger Stadium

Over the years baseball fans have headed to Dodger Stadium to see pitching greats like Don Sutton and Orel Hershiser toe the rubber, but the 63-year-old working the crowd along the third base line has outlasted those legends and dozens more. He never signed a big-league contract, but he's been pitching in the Dodger's home park since it opened in 1962. There's even a picture of him in the baseball Hall of Fame.

Early on in his career, Owens established his singular technique - a behind-the-back peanut pitch that can hit a customer dead square in the hands from 30 rows away. He perfected it at home, tossing peanuts at invisible patrons on his couch.

"The secret is not in the arm but in the flick of the wrist - that gives the power," he says. "I can actually throw it farther behind my back than over my shoulder. My thumb holds the bag and my fingers do the guiding."

He tosses 250 bags a night, or over 20,000 a season - well over a million during his career - and has inspired imitators from Seattle to Houston. Owens also has a dozen "season peanut holders" who pay him in advance for their $5.50 bags and for some quality schmoozing time during the game.

Owens alters the speed and delivery of his pitches to suit different situations. "There is my 'knuckle bag,' which I throw underneath my legs with a leg kick and lots of spin," he says. "That flutters around a bit, so I don't throw that too many times. I will not throw it with much velocity to a young child. For a senior citizen I give the bag more arc so they can see it coming and get ready. Even if I hit them right in the hands, if they drop it, I look bad."

How to pitch peanuts

1. Owens walks up the aisles rather than down. He keeps his eyes focused on the fans, not on the game.

2. He positions his body at a 45-degree angle to the target. His right arm swings down behind his back.

3. His right thumb holds the bag while his fingers serve to guide it. His wrist stays firm until release.

4. The bag is launched with a flick of the wrist, allowing him to reach fans as far away as 30 rows. Top of page