NORFOLK, Va. - While attending a game at Norfolk's Harbor Park, names of the players are not the only ones you'll hear.
"That feeling is wonderful - just being called Willie and running over there and selling them a beer," veteran Harbor Park vendor Willie Jackson said Thursday. "It makes me feel good."
With his loud shirt and louder voice, it's tough to miss Willie at Norfolk Tides games.
However last year, when the Minor League Baseball season was scrapped due to COVID-19, you did miss him. We all did. And Willie tells us he missed you, too.
"I got a job working at a hotel down in Virginia Beach," Jackson explained to News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler. "I missed the fans."
Now with Minor League Baseball back in business, so is Willie - for his 26th year as a vendor at Harbor Park.
For the first 12 contests of the 2021 season, the Norfolk Tides have limited attendance to 38-percent capacity. But beginning with Friday's game, all capacity restrictions are lifted. This means 100-percent of the seats in the ballpark will be available to thirsty fans.
"These last couple days, I've been making some money - but it's not like it's going to be when it's 100 percent," Willie noted. "When we go 100 percent, I have to be at the top of my game -- and I'm going to do that tonight. I'm going to go home, take my vitamins and get my Gatorade."
Willie's beer tub can weigh up to 30 pounds. But toting it up, down and around Harbor Park is nothing after carrying...nothing last year.
"Last summer, people were sitting around the house - not doing anything," Willie recalled. "I was missing them, they were missing me. That was a bad feeling."
But it's a new year, and now one without restrictions. So starting this weekend at Harbor Park - it's cheers and cheers. The latter, via adult beverage, are courtesy of Willie Jackson.