MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wally the Beer Man will have his day in court this week on charges he sold beer to a minor at Target Field. He was fired by the company that handles the concessions at the Minnesota Twins home ballpark.
Wally McNeil, known as Wally the Beer Man, has been selling beer at the baseball games for more than 40 years. The 76-year-old was caught in a police sting last September and charged with a gross misdemeanor. He now wants to clear his name.
McNeil, and another vendor Edward Stepnick, turned down a plea deal to take their chances with a jury in Hennepin County, accusing police of entrapment.
“Because they’re not guilty. You can settle and cut your losses by working out a plea deal but you have to say you had criminal intent and believe me, these guys did not,” said McNeil’s attorney Peter Wold.
They were all set to start their trial Monday morning when it got bumped to Wednesday.
“We’re going to cross the bridges and win,” said McNeil. “I am in good hands with peter and that’s all I have to say.”
Wold will argue that Wally and Stepnick were set up by the police when they didn’t check the IDs of a teenage decoy buying beer during a sting at the ballpark.
“Wally’s been doing this for 41 years at that time, Ed for 27, I think. And not once in all the different stings, any report, any complaints that that had ever happened before,” said Wold.
McNeil’s popularity selling beer for decades at the Twins games decades prompted fans to create a Facebook page to rally for him.
McNeil said he has “10,796 hits on Facebook about Wally and Free Wally and different things. It’s great to have that kind of fan base. What more can I be happy about?”
A police supervisor said he couldn’t comment on the case because he is on the list of officers subpoenaed to possibly testify at the trial. But Lt. Chris Hildreth said officers played by the rules in the handling of the sting at Target Field.
Whether McNeil is invited back to sell beer at the Twins games will be determined in part by what happens in court.
A Twins spokesperson said the team would like to have McNeil back in some role because he is so popular.
If Wally is convicted of a gross misdemeanor, he faces a maximum penalty of $3,000 fine and a year in jail.