ST. LOUIS — Not everybody enjoys going to work, but Patrick Ferris is lucky. He loves coming to Busch Stadium, a place people here sometimes call "baseball heaven." Ferris schleps beer up and down the aisles of section 261, along the third-base line, and he was able to work Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night. It was his first such experience.
"I get to hang out with the Cardinals fans every day," Ferris said. "Who wouldn't love my job?"
Normally, a beer vendor working a World Series game would stand to make a great deal of extra cash in tips. But no matter what Ferris pulled in during Game 3, he had already decided to give the money away to someone who needs it more.
Earlier this week, Ferris helped to bury 7-year-old Brian Davis, the son of one of his best friends, who died in a house fire in Mehlville, Mo. It's an unimaginable catastrophe for the Davis family which, Ferris says, has "nothing right now."
The fire happened Monday night, with Davis' 13-year-old sister and maternal grandmother asleep inside the house in St. Louis County when it started. They got out, but the grandmother had to jump through a second-story window to escape, reportedly breaking her heel. Brian died inside. The boy's funeral was Friday, with a wake happening the day before. On Wednesday, Ferris helped Davis' father (also named Brian) find a coffin.
"I don’t know if you’ve ever had to pick out a coffin for a child," Ferris said. "I pray to God that nobody ever has to go through that. It’s the saddest thing in the world."
Ferris felt like he wasn't doing enough, aside from grieving. In an effort to ease the Davis family's overwhelming financial burden, Ferris helped set up a fund that anybody can donate to through PayPal. Ferris also has set up a Facebook page to help people do that, if they don't happen to make any of the World Series games in St. Louis and buy a cold one from him.
"I just felt like I had to do something," Ferris said. "I kept trying to call Brian (the dad) … and I’m like, 'Is there anything I can do?' He can’t even talk right now. He still, to this day, can’t even get a word out. He’s like, ‘There’s nothing anyone can do.’ After crying for two days, myself, I just put that thing on Facebook.
"The only thing I could think of to do was to ask Cardinals nation for help."
Davis said on Saturday night that about $300 had accumulated in the fund. Standing outside the SportsService entrance to Busch on Broadway Street, he clutched at a button pinned to his chest, a picture of young Davis wearing a cap of Fredbird, the Cards' beloved mascot.
"He was the kindest little boy you could ever imagine," Ferris said. "Every single person that has met this little boy, he has touched their hearts. He was a huge Cardinals fan. Look at the pin. Brian, his dad, still is a huge Cardinals fan. We were born and bred. We have no choice. That’s how we were born and raised. We’re all diehard Cardinals fans.
"I’m hoping for a million bucks, but I’d be happy with $1,000," Ferris said. "My main goal in all of this is that little Brian will not be forgotten. I want him to go down as the biggest Cardinals fan in history. If I don’t make a dime and that happens, I’ll be happy."
Ferris made 75 buttons to pass out to other vendors willing to help get the word out about the Davis family and its plight, so he was up about $100 before the first pitch, before one beer had been sold. Ferris also mentioned on Facebook that at least one other vendors would be donating his tips from Game 3 for the Davises, too.
Ferris, 33, also is a pizza delivery man when he's not at Busch Stadium, or the Edward Jones Dome, where he vends at games for the NFL's Rams. He said a pizza customer recognized him from Facebook the other day and tipped him $20. And gave him a big hug.
"It’s amazing how we’ve all come together," Ferris said.
Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright had not heard about the fire, or what Ferris was doing, before Saturday night. But he said he was touched by Ferris' intentions. Wainwright has kids aged 7, 5 and almost 2.
"He's a man who’s probably not gifted with glorious riches like a lot of other people in the world are," Wainwright said. "To give his extra, to give his meal money away, to help another man’s family out ... it’s admirable and he’s obviously a great man to do that.
"We are proud of him. That’s carrying on the Cardinal tradition, isn’t it? Giving to those in need. Sometimes, when you think everything is as bad as it can get, you see other people having it a lot worse than you."
And you also think about ones you love the most. Thinking back a few days to when he first learned of the fire and what happened to little Brian Davis, Ferris said he literally dropped to his knees. He thought of his kids, 11-year-old Patrick and 2-year-old Kaleigh.
"I was crying about it like a little baby," Ferris said. "I called off work that night at the pizzeria, and I spent the night with my children, hugging them over and over. They probably thought I was crazy. We went over a lot of fire safety issues, like, 'How to get out of the house if a fire happened.' It was crazy."
Not crazy at all — just something we all wish we didn't have to worry about. And it gets to the heart of why Ferris wanted to help the Brian and Lori Davis and their daughter. Ferris and the elder Davis had met a few years ago at a high school reunion for the wives, and "clicked instantly."
"I meet a lot of people — especially working here at Busch Stadium — and it’s hard to find a friend like that," Ferris said.
"No matter what, anything is going to help them. Anything at all will help. No amount of money would ever be enough. I don’t care if I had $100 billion dollars, I would not give up one of my kids. There’s no amount of money that could. I just don’t want them to have to worry about money. They’ve got enough on their shoulders already. At least, if they don’t have to worry about money, that’s something else they don’t have to worry about right now."
If you're able to help, follow Pat the Beer Man on Facebook and click the link to to PayPal.
- - - - - - -