Calling Captain Earthman (Screenshot: YouTube)

Baseball is a sport rooted in eccentric traditions and arcane rituals, and that includes the highly individualistic vendors hawking beer in the stands during games. Since 1993, baseball fans in Denver have come to know and love Brent “Captain Earthman” Doeden, a 60-year-old self-described “stranded intergalactic space hippie” who slings suds at Colorado Rockies home games at Coors Field every summer. With his flair-encrusted ball cap, purple beard, cosmic rhetoric, and vocal distaste for “sissy sippin‘” (He prefers that customers drink “like they meant it.”), Doeden has become an integral part of the baseball experience in Colorado for many fans. But this space traveler, who has also plied his trade at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and during Denver Broncos home games, has been grounded since August by a cancer diagnosis. Not only is Doeden unable to work or travel to Widespread Panic and String Cheese Incident concerts, but his medical bills are piling up. Over at Mashable, writer Sam Laird tells Doeden’s strange saga in a bittersweet article called “The Ballad Of ‘Captain Earthman,’ Baseball Fans’ Most Beloved Beer Vendor.”

Becky Scharfenberg, a tech support specialist and Doeden’s wife of 28 years, decided to raise money for her husband’s expensive treatment through a GoFundMe campaign called “Parts For Earthman’s Spaceship.” Sadly, the tumor on Doeden’s brain stem is inoperable, but the colorful vendor will still undergo chemotherapy and radiation in the hopes of slowing the tumor’s growth and extending his own life. Thus far, the response to the campaign is extremely positive, with many of the donations coming from Colorado Rockies fans who say that Doeden has been an integral part of the baseball experience for them. Scharfenberg has already raised over $13,700 toward her original $25,000 goal. Laird sees this as an example of how even even the saddest stories can be inspiring in the way that they bring out the best in people. He explains:

Some folks say the more love you put into the universe, the more you get back in return. It seems Captain Earthman—whether he is in fact from this planet or any other—proves that notion true.