By night, 30-year-old Brett Ryall bellows catchy jingles throughout Shaw Park, convincing fans to buy ice cold beer. For those who’ve gotten to know him over his past thirteen years at the ballpark, he’s known as none other than ‘Beer Guy Brett’.
But by day, Ryall is a successful software developer for Richardson International. He has a computer science degree from the University of Manitoba and seven years of experience working in the demanding field.
So, what keeps the busy software developer coming back to sell beer at Shaw Park season after season?
“For me, it’s a place where I get to be loud, obnoxious, crack a few jokes,” says Ryall. “And apparently they like paying me for it!”
Since 2008, Ryall has gradually paved his way into becoming a memorable person within the Goldeyes organization. Over his thirteen seasons with the Fish, he’s seen almost everything there is to see at the ballpark. This includes multiple playoff series, wedding proposals and a championship win. But despite all those events, Ryall’s favourite memory at Shaw Park was the day he officially became known as ‘Beer Guy Brett.’
The Beginning of ‘Beer Guy Brett’
On top of his busy schedule with the Goldeyes, Ryall refereed soccer during his summers throughout university. After cancelling a game on the night of a downpour, Ryall offered to drive a fellow referee (who had biked there) home. The referee, Sam, hadn’t met Ryall before, but graciously took the ride.
It wasn’t until a couple years later that the two crossed paths again – but this time, at a Goldeyes game.
“It turns out that down the road, Sam turned into ‘Sam the Sign Guy’,” says Ryall.
For fans at Shaw Park, ‘Sam the Sign Guy’ is another recognizable name. Every season, the Sign Guy comes to the ballpark with a portfolio of handmade posters. He parades around with the signs to get fans cheering. Usually, he has one for each starting player.
“He [Sam the Sign Guy] was just starting out. One of the biggest surprises I ever had was when he made a sign for me! It said ‘Beer Guy Brett.’ That got me a good laugh,” says Ryall. “He still brings it to the games, and it’s good for a round of applause from everyone. That’s definitely the first time something special like that came up for sure.”
Since then, the name has stuck. Ryall embraces his beer-hawking job to the fullest. Often, he matches his beer-selling slogans to plays currently happening in the game.
“I find it has to be very topical and appropriate for the situation. So generally when the bases wind up being loaded I’ll say ‘the bases are loaded, how about you?’ That usually gets a good laugh,” says Ryall. “Or if a kid tries to jokingly buy a beer from me, I just tell him to come back in a few years.”
The job, which Ryall took when he was just 18, was originally intended to get him through university. He turned out loving it so much that he saw no reason to leave once he graduated from the University of Manitoba.
“It’s definitely different. It’s nice that I can go from my software development job, which requires a lot of thinking, and then come to a Goldeyes game which is more of a physical job. I haul beer up and down the stairs, but the only thinking I’m required to do is make quick jokes for the fans,” says Ryall. “A lot easier than software development.”
Through thirteen years of dodging broken bats and foul balls, Ryall prides himself in not once getting injured on the job.
“I’ve definitely had some close calls though,” he says. “Once, I got hit in the brim by a homerun ball!”
While helping carrying tables through Picnic Park, something slammed down his hat brim over his eyes, making him drop the table.
“It turns out it was batting practice. I was trying to figure out what happened, and realized I was nearly smoked by a home run.”
Regardless of the obstacles in his way, Ryall has always made his job at the ballpark a priority. In 2010 he separated his shoulder in a bicycling accident, but still found a way to work.
“That was the summer of the one-armed beer guy. I was in a sling from July to late August. I took the first weekend off, but realized I needed to continue making money through the summer. So I came up with a one-armed contraption that I could hold my beer in, with my sling guarding the cash and doing the transactions with the other… That was an interesting summer,” says Ryall.
Looking ahead, Ryall has no plans to step down as Beer Guy Brett anytime soon. Over the past thirteen seasons, Ryall says he’s met so many amazing fans and staffers from the Goldeyes organization. Some of them have become lifelong friends.
“I’m going to keep doing this job as long as I can keep doing it. I’m still enjoying it, still able to do it which is a big thing too. For me, I don’t see any reason for me to be slowing down soon.”