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Herald Tribune: Elephant Hat Man

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https://www.heraldtribune.com/sports/20200330/elephant-hat-man-dies-at-age-53?utm_source=SFMC&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Sarasota Herald-Tribune daily 2020-03-31&utm_content=INKA_SHT&utm_term=033120



‘Elephant-Hat Man’ Dies

By Doug Fernandes
Posted Mar 30, 2020 at 6:54 PM

Duke Johnson sold beer at Baltimore Oriole spring-training games at Ed Smith Stadium and was known for his booming voice and green-and-orange hat.

If you didn’t see Darryl “Duke” Johnson at Baltimore Orioles spring-training baseball games at Ed Smith Stadium, you certainly heard him.

Matter of fact, it was near impossible not to do both.

“Ice cold beer here.”

“No wait, no line.”

“Get ’em while they’re cold.”

“Don’t forget to tip the bartender.”

And that hat. The story goes Duke had a friend he followed into the vending business. At the games he worked he’d wear a green hat with big orange ears.

An elephant hat. When Duke’s friend developed prostate cancer and died at age 29 in 1995, he took the hat and began wearing it.

Johnson became known for it. Over the years, as the hat became ragged, a seamstress would do surgery to get back in shape.

Duke also had a clever way to make the hat visible in venues all over South Florida. He started pushing the suds at the Orange Bowl in the mid-1980s.

He’d put a balloon in it to keep it upright.




Johnson was showing love last year, helping a friend fix a plumbing leak. The job required digging up a pipe under a house which had mold and mildew.

A sufferer of asthma, Johnson fell sick. His condition got worse, yet he refused to see a doctor.

Duke became septic, finally entering a hospital in December, but he never recovered and died on March 20.

Duke Johnson was just 53 and leaves behind a wife, Chaunte, and two children, Darryl Rex and Destiny

He’d sell his beer at The Ed, on a good day earning $300 in gas money, then dump enough of it in the tank of his rental car for the drive back to his home in Miami.

And the secret to the “Elephant-Hat Man” selling so much beer? At a concert once at the Miami Arena, Johnson personally sold a staggering 101 cases of beer.

“I keep more ice than I keep beer,” he said. “You can’t find a vendor who has more ice than I do.”



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He was one of my favorite memories when I was able to go to Spring Training yearly from 2000 - 2005.  😰AR-605209091.jpg



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