Fans attending games
in Arizona, Southern California and Nevada – over
250 events each year – often can't remember the final score, but they never
forget Moore's deep, rousing call: "Lemonade, Lemonade, like grandma made!"
As the most popular vendor in baseball’s Cactus League, Moore has his
pick of venues, so this month he's following the World Champion Giants. Wherever
they play, that's where Moore peddles his good cheer. "Yummy, yummy. You
know you want it!"
Moore is so popular at Diamondbacks (baseball), Suns (basketball) and Cardinals
(football) games that fans seek his autograph, pose with him in photos, and even
plead with the smiling “Lemonade Guy” to record messages on their
cell phones – "like grandma made!" In the fall he travels to
San Diego for Chargers football and to Nevada for college games and monster truck
For 17 years, Moore was a beer vendor (“Get a cold brew, you know what
to do!”). He made a good living to support his wife and four kids at their
home north of Phoenix, but he grew frustrated by the often rowdy behavior of
the beer-drinking crowd. It also didn’t square with his faith. Moore is
a religious man who ministers to prison inmates and troubled youngsters in his
In 2002 Moore gave up beer and switched to lemonade. He says his grandma Beulah
made some of the best lemonade in Phoenix and most folks who stopped by for a
cool drink left with a smile. So Moore fashioned his sales approach around memories
of his late grandma.
On a good day he sells 300 lemonades, roughly twice the number the average
soft drink vendor can score. He works for three different lemonade companies,
each with its own t-shirt, so he has to be sure to wear the correct uniform when
he switches venues.
At some stadiums the price is $5, at others it’s $5.75, and rookie vendors
prefer the higher price because customers usually let them keep the 25-cents
change. But Moore takes a hit at $5.75, since his frequent tip for a $5 drink
is a full dollar.
At a spring training game in Peoria this month, Moore strolled through the
stands entertaining fans while a rogue beer vendor followed behind calling, “Miller
Lite, like grandpa used to drink.” A few aisles away, a competing lemonade
vendor shouted, “Lemonade, just like Derrick’s grandma made!” Moore
didn’t object; he was flattered.
A Phoenix radio station and a local car dealer hired him to do commercials.
He travels two hours to sell at concerts and festivals in Tucson (“Limonada,
limonada, like nana used to make!”).
During spring training he will sometimes do both a day game and a night game,
leaving his voice hoarse and his back is sore, yet his wide grin is unaffected.
When Moore preaches in jails the theme is about curbing anger and bitterness;
in ballparks there’s no need for a sermon, but the message is the same.
“It doesn’t matter what you do for a living,” he says, “as
long as you love it. I go to work happy, and I leave work feeling even happier.
I enjoy making people smile.” With a deep chuckle, he adds the trademark, “Yeah,
Life handed Derrick Moore a lemon, and grandma Beulah would be pleased to
know he’s making lemonade mixed with good cheer.
(c) Peter Funt. This column was originally distributed by the Cagle Syndicate.