For the third year, a Megaphone vendor will throw the ceremonial first pitch at Nat Bailey Stadium
By Megan Stewart
Sid Bristow has an update for the newsboys who announced headlines with calls of “Extra! Extra!”
The 62-year-old Megaphone vendor tells his would-be customers at the congested northwest corner of Cambie and Broadway: “Meet a vendor! Meet a writer! Meet a community!”
Purchasing one issue of Megaphone introduces readers to Bristow as well as the magazine and its writers. Repeat customers come to know the community and become a part of it.
The pitch, he says, is “something I developed over time. I’d say half my customer are repeat customers.” Many know him by name, some treat him to the occasional coffee and at least one will be at Nat Bailey Stadium next week to see Bristow in action at Scotiabank Field.
Bristow’s sales pitch won him another kind of pitch, the first of his life at a ballpark. His pitch was voted the best by his peers and readers and on Monday evening he will throw the opening, ceremonial first pitch before the hometown Canadians host the Eugene Emeralds.
The game starts at 7:05 p.m. and Bristow will be on the mound roughly 20 minutes earlier.
This is the third year the C’s have partnered with Megaphone to recognize vendors, who are all low-income Vancouverites and in some cases, like Bristow’s, have dealt with addiction and homelessness.
Charlize Gordon stepped up in 2011 and last year the honour went to Kris Cronk, a writer and one-time Little Leaguer whose winning pitch went like this: “Often imitated, never duplicated.”
Vancouver Canadians spokesman Jeff Holloway said Bristow has been recognized for making a difference in his life and the lives of others.
“Few things are more impressive than watching someone take pride in their job and in their life,” said Holloway in a statement.
Bristow, who has a wide grin and a braid down his back, is practicing his pitch. He can’t recall the last time he threw a baseball but is a fan of the Blue Jays. “I haven’t played a lot — like, never,” he said.
“I remember when I was a kid we used to watch the games in Kamloops. You could sneak into those games.”
Bristow came to Vancouver in 1986. He drove a taxi and battled alcoholism. “It was a major addiction I had,” he said. “I drank a minimum of 40 beer a day. Minimum.”
He later began selling Spare Change, the city’s street paper founded in 1992 that nearly dwindled before it evolved and was renamed Megaphone in 2008.
Now, every two weeks when a new issue is published, Bristow purchases a pile of Megaphone magazines for 75 cents and sells them for $2. He pockets the profit for himself.
“I just made $1.50 so that’s like 15 beer bottles, I’d think to myself, that I didn’t have to dig through garbage for,” he said. “I used to collect beer bottles or sell cigarettes on the street in the Downtown Eastside. I’d do whatever I could to try to make a dollar.”
When he started selling Spare Change at Granville and Georgia 20 years ago, Bristow started to count his earnings. He continued selling Megaphone at Cambie and Broadway, first outside the Canada Line station and now on the opposite corner. Because of a leg disability, he can’t stand indefinitely but aims to sell 11 copies each day over the course of three or four hours.
“When I wake up in the morning, I know I can make enough money to eat or get parts for my bike,” he said.
Bristow throws the first pitch at Nat Bailey Stadium on July 22 at 6:45 p.m. The game starts 20 minutes later.