Arnie the Peanut Dude is a fixture at Astros games, his chatter and canny ability to toss accurately a bag of peanuts far distances often being enough to distract from the crummy play by the home team.
Change that "is" to "was." KHOU is reporting that Arnie Murphy died yesterday.
Here's how we described him when awarding him the Best Ballpark Vendor Award in our 2000 Best of Houston issue:
The Astros have tanked, and the pitchers can't get anybody out, but one guy at "Homeron" Field is still consistently throwing strikes: Arnie the Peanut Dude, who hurls his roasted wares across entire sections to waving fans and nails 'em in the mitts every time. Arnie doesn't just deliver peanuts and make change; he entertains the crowd in a blue-collar way that matches the baseball setting far more perfectly than the 'Stros' silly rabbit mascot. An old-school vendor, Arnie doesn't load himself down with five items to maximize his revenues. You want peanuts? Peanuts he's got, and he can dish out half a dozen bags and never lose track of who owes what. Combining keen peripheral vision with an impeccable sense of timing, Arnie senses his customers the way bats sense mice at midnight. He reaches nonchalantly into his pouch, pulls out a bag, grips it for accuracy.
The windup, the pitch: Steeeerike!
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Murphy, 61, died peacefully. He had been suffering heart issues.