LOVE YOUR DOG

By:  Kurt Snyder

Baseball. Hot Dogs. Apple Pie. And some make of car.

Yeah, I know, it’s Chevrolet. But it’s tough for a 25 year Chrysler employee to admit. It was a brilliant ad by General Motors that originated way back in 1975. The ad says “they go together.”

And when I look back at my father’s career with the Tigers, especially as manager of Tiger Stadium for 22 years beginning in the early 70’s, baseball and hot dogs (at least) did indeed go together.

Even before you went through the turnstiles, you could smell them. The tremendous smell of Ballpark Franks wafted all through the park.  As soon as I smelled those dogs, I knew I was “home.”

So, what’s the big deal; they sell Ballpark Franks at Comerica Park too, right? What did Tiger Stadium do differently?

Well folks, I think it was the love. Hot dogs were treated with respect at The Corner. And you have to respect the hot dog, because remember, most are consumed in front of a baseball game.

Heck, even when my kids were young and they ate hot dogs cut into little pieces at home, I would run and throw in an old tape of a Tiger game just to complete the experience (not really, but it makes for a good story).

Baseball and hot dogs. They go together. And they always will. They have been together since the days at The Corner and the trend has continued for almost 16 years of baseball at Comerica Park.

But to be frank (ouch), the hot dog has seen better days. Today at Comerica Park, fans grab a dog and a beer and head over to the condiments, where they unwrap the dog from the foil. What?! Foil?! Does that sound like love? Does that sound like respect for baseball and hot dogs? Not even close!

How long ago did they cook those things? How long have they been sitting in that bun, in that foil. Those are hot dogs held captive!

Is the dog experience any different at your seat from a vendor? Nope. Same drill. More foil. And you get to squeeze condiments out of those nice little packets. No love.

Frankly (again with the pun, geez), I think hot dogs were a lot happier at Tiger Stadium. When you went to the concession stand, they would grab them right off the griddle, piping hot and just a little crispy on the outside.

They would place them in a steamed bun and hand it to you wrapped in a piece of wax paper emblazoned with the words “Ball Park Franks” right on the wrapper. (It might have been a napkin, but we will go with the wax paper).

You couldn’t wait to slather it with mustard and catchup and onions or whatever you preferred on this most treasured meal of the American Pastime.

And the experience at your seat was just as special. Tiger Stadium Ball Park Franks brought to the customers were generally not disrespected.

But I always felt sorry for the hot dog vendors. They lugged around those heavy tanks filled with boiled dogs still in the water. They would always be the vendors working the hardest, because they had the heaviest load.

When he had a customer, he would set that heavy metal tank down hard on the concrete at the end of the row, as if he was never going to be able to pick it up again.  He would then grab a boiled dog , open another compartment where the buns were nice and warm and created the masterpiece right in front of you.

But sometimes there was more to the experience than you would appreciate. Every vendor had their method; the process of preparing the dog. One vendor in particular would almost quite literally, put his blood, sweat and tears into the process.

These hot dog guys would sweat and sweat a lot. And sometimes, a little sweat might end up on your dog.  Sound yummy? Well I’m not done. With heavy sweating in progress, the man would grab a hot bun, open it up with his bare hands, wipe his brow, stab a hot dog out of the water, place it on the bun and hold it in place with his thumb before swiping it with a tongue depressor full of mustard.

I’m not really sure how long they let that guy stick around. But my dad had more than one talk with him for sure.

So let’s get our hands around this hot dog issue. Maybe the Tigers need to harken back to their history.  I know it’s all about mass production and getting people their food as quickly as possible so you can move on to the next hungry fan. But the love is missing.   If you needed another reason to miss Tiger Stadium, take a look at your dog next season when you remove it from the foil.   And then remember what you read right here.

Love the game and your dog.  They go together.  Thank you for your time.

8 thoughts on “LOVE YOUR DOG

  1. If my mind is still sharp, I recall my last dog at Tiger Stadium might have been in 1997 when the Tigers beat the Orioles 1-0 in the 8th with Trevor Francis scoring from third on a wild pitch. Never ate one better!

    Like

  2. I’m sorry, Kurt, I cannot love my hot dog at the ballpark. Not for 4.50 apiece. They do have a five dollar value meal where you get the dog and a small bag of chips with a small soda. I do love the hot dogs at Lafayette Coney Island though – with chili, mustard and onions.! I either go there or White Castle before a game to get my food fill

    Like

  3. And the dog vendors carnival barking for their product… Oh how I remember. Some an angry, short, breathless shout hotog! Others had joyful opera. Loud. Soft. Long emphasis on Hot. And others used a creative ending, Digity Dog. All wrapped in the loving care of… Get yer, or who wants a? And it usually ended in a personal selling classic… “Right here”. Oh that was worth the trip to the park alone.

    Like

  4. One can not think of 100 baseball (or football) stories shortly after fondly remembering the barking cry of “The Hot Dog Man” at Briggs Stadium. Those $4.50 “wounded puppies” found now inside the foil container are….I won’t even go there. Give me a ” Ha,Ha, Ha, Hot Dog” any day!

    Like

  5. At Comerica I always go for the Hebrew Nationals fresh off the grill. They cost a little more and you have to leave your seat but it’s worth it. At home we cook Nathan’s Famous for the games…sometimes boiled and sometimes grilled. These pair well with PBR.

    Like

  6. Kurt, I’m curious about the vendor. I recall one guy who really got into it. He probably weighed about 250 lbs and was about 6 feet tall with short brownish hair. I wanna say his name was Ed or Bill, and he was part of the experience of going to 20-30 games per year for me back in the ’70s-’80s.

    Like

  7. I recall a double-header sweep of the Os in 1973. Brillant Lolich 2-0 shut-out and outstanding relay out at third in late inning. During first game guy behind wanted ketchup on his hot dog – the vendor said he could cut his finger. Evidently, they only had mustard no ketchup. I often use that vendor’s line since I don’t like ketchup.

    Like

Comments are closed.