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‘I just want to take care of people’: It’s been a fine, fun half-century at the Bend ballpark for ‘Hot Rod’ Foster

From selling programs as a kid to taking tickets, selling peanuts -- he's done it all

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Rod Foster is a Central Oregon legend, when it comes to Bend Elks baseball. You may also know him as "Hot Rod."

Rod started in 1972, when he was just 7 years old, and the team at the time was called the Bend Phillies. This month marks 50 years since Rod showed up at Vince Genna Stadium and went to work with the team.

"I just walked into the stadium and thought, 'Wow -- I just need something to do," Rod told NewsChannel 21.

That's when he was offered a job selling programs for the games.

"I sold them for 25 cents apiece, and I kept a dime for everyone I sold," Rod recalled.

Over the years, Rod has done a variety of jobs other than selling programs for the team. He said he has washed the players' uniforms, taken tickets and sold peanuts to the fans.

We asked Rod what's kept him working for the team for so many years.

"I just want to take care of people," he replied.

It's a sentiment echoed by others he works with at the Council on Aging of Central Oregon.

Denise LaBuda, director of communications, said, "Sometimes our volunteers have challenging days, when they are off delivering meals to our Meals on Wheels clients that are not necessarily having a good day. And they sometimes come back a little sad -- and he can help bring that energy level back up and remind them that it's about people. We're hearing from Rod everywhere, that it's all about people." 

Rod has stuck by the team through five owners, starting just after actor Kurt Russell played for the Bend Rainbows in 1971. He told me he never met Kurt, but he did have a favorite player.

"It had to be Jacoby Ellsbury," he said, "He was a Madras High School graduate, and he played for our Bend Elks."

But even though Rod loves the team, he said many times that it's all about the people.

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Katie Zuniga

Katie Zuniga is a weather anchor for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Katie here.


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