Results tagged ‘ concessions ’

Opening Day 2016: New Ballpark Food!

Yesterday, I kicked off the 2016 season with a requisite bouillabaisse blog post. The “bouillabaisse” in such posts is metaphorical, but today all food references are literal. Let’s take a look at some new ballpark eats.

We’ll start with my old pals the Charleston RiverDogs. Longtime food and beverage boss John Schumaker has left the team in order to open his own restaurant, Harold’s Cabin, which is backed by team co-owners Mike Veeck and Bill “Yes, that Bill Murray” Murray. Nonetheless, the RiverDogs, led by food and beverage director Josh Shea, keep on keeping on with innovative ballpark cuisine

This, for example, is no ordinary corn dog. It’s a “Shrimp-N-Grit Corn Dog.”

Shrimp_N_Grit_Corn_Dog_640Also, there’s this: “Biscotti cookie dough with vanilla ice cream, caramel syrup, and Palmetto espresso porter brew.”

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In Akron, my old pals the RubberDucks have unveiled this season’s “Extreme” menu items.

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From left to right we have:

The Squealer: Half-pound foot-long hot dog stuffed with pulled pork and cheddar cheese, then wrapped in bacon and deep-fried, and drizzled with barbeque sauce.

The European Vacation: Foot-long bratwurst on a pierogi bun, topped with fiery feta cheese spread and roasted red peppers.

Meet Your Maker Quesadilla: Triple-decker quesadilla with three jam-packed layers-layer one has hot dogs, Texas jack chili, and cheddar cheese; layer two has hamburger and American cheese, and layer three has chicken tenders, poutine gravy, and cheddar cheese.

The Squealer, ready for its close-up:

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In Jacksonville, my old pals the Suns are now under the same ownership as the RubberDucks. Hence, the team’s “FUNdamentally Different” concession approach.

sunsMy best attempt to identify the following items begins now. Moving clockwise:

Buffalo Chicken Bites in a Waffle Cone, Chicken and Waffles, Chicken “Limp” Biscuit (as good as a Korn dog?), Pork and Slaw Dog, Philly Dog. The last item, bottom left, appears to be a plain ol’ hot dog.

Also of note: The Suns have renamed two of their concession stands in honor of local sports icons: Singh for Your Supper (golfer Vijay Singh) and Sweet Tea-bow.

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My old pals the Lakewood BlueClaws have long held a “Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese” mascot race, and this season they’re honoring all three complementary food components in bobblehed form. Nonetheless, my old pals the Trenton Thunder have perhaps taken in the lead when it comes to the prominent category of “New Jersey baseball team most dedicated to the celebration of pork roll.”

This season, the Thunder have a “Pork Roll Paradise” food stand at the ballpark.

rollMoving clockwise yet again, we have:

Oink, Cluck and Moo — a classic pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich. Served, as all Ween fans know, on a kaiser bun.
Thunder Dog — A hot dog with pork roll slices and American cheese on a torpedo roll.
Pig Pen — Chopped pork roll, pulled pork and bacon bits atop mashed potatoes.
Hog Steak — Chopped pork roll with Cheez Whiz on a torpedo roll.

Perhaps inspired by the Thunder, the BlueClaws recently unveiled their own pork roll-inspired creation:

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My old pals the West Michigan Whitecaps are no strangers to attention-getting food items. This year’s Fan Food Vote winner hasn’t garnered the viral acclaim of the Baco or Fifth Third Burger, but nonetheless it exists. Existence is the most important thing.

This is the “Dutch Love” — turkey pot roast, cheese curds and fries in a pita wrap.

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And here’s a weird one out of Fresno, where my old pals the Grizzlies are offering “Hot Cheetos Dusted Fries”.

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What better place to end than with a weird one? I’ll follow up with an accompanying drinks post in the near future, so if you’ve got something to share on that front then please get in touch. Also, my 2016 road trip itineraries are coming soon. Promise.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Sensible Dining Options Courtesy of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Do you like baseball? Do you like healthy and sensibly-portioned Minor League Baseball food offerings? Then you’ll what love the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have been up to recently. The Rattlers, based in the fine city of Appleton, are really on a roll.

Last week, executive chef Tim Hansen (what, don’t all Class A baseball teams have executive chefs?) announced two additions to the team’s lineup of assuredly gargantuan and borderline Brobdingnagian sandwiches. Here’s a photo of Tim, taken during my 2013 visit to Appleton. All acclaim and approbation should be directed toward him. I’m just the messenger.

1072This is the Grilled Cheese Venom Cheeseburger. An entire grilled cheese sandwich is utilized as both the top and bottom bun; the “venom” in question is Sriacha sauce (which is surely more potent than the venom routinely emitted by ineffectual Timber Rattlers “evil mascot” Gnaf T. Rattler).

Hansen, whose creations will make you go “MMMBurp”, also unveiled the “Meatlover’s Pizza Burger.”

Pizza, topped with sausage, pepperoni and bacon, is used as the bun. Upon consuming it, self-loathing is optional.

The above two items are already on the menu. But, of course, there will be more. On Tuesday, the Timber Rattlers announced that their 2016 “Food Fight” is down to five finalists.

2_23_FoodFightVoteUsing my vast network of journalistic connections, I was able to obtain visual accompaniments for all five items (all of which were fan submitted).

All photos were taken by Timber Rattlers creative director Ann Mollica, who, in 2013, obtained legendary status after snapping a photo of the ultra-elusive and until then apocryphal Whitewall Ninja. All food descriptions are courtesy of a press release disseminated by Timber Rattlers announcer Chris Mehring, who in 2013 reaffirmed his legendary status after dropping an apropos Sledgehammer reference at the close of an interview.

The Cheesehead: A juicy quarter pound burger topped with crispy bacon, mac n cheese and melted smoked cheddar served on a freshly baked split-top bun.

cheese

Ann Mollica/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Glazed Donut Burger: A traditional glazed donut is grilled, giving off a sweet aroma of sugar and adding a juicy quarter pound burger, crispy bacon, onions, fresh lettuce and Wisconsin-made cheddar make this a burger to remember.

donut

Ann Mollica/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Grilled Cheese Chicken Sandwich: This sandwich places golden brown chicken tenders and crispy bacon between melted American cheese and grilled to perfection. It also comes with lettuce, tomato and onion and is served with a side of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce.

grilled

Ann Mollica/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Loaded Tater Tot Nachos: Don’t let the word ‘nachos’ deceive you. These tater tots combine everything you would expect. Golden brown tater tots and combining them with warm taco beef, nacho cheese, shredded Wisconsin cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion and jalapeno’s. [sic]

tater

Ann Mollica/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Pork Donut: Using a Bismarck donut as a bun, this item is filled with pulled pork allowing the sweet and salty flavors to come alive and is served with a side of house-made coleslaw.

Ann Mollica/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Ann Mollica/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

For the record, the man who submitted the above item into the Food Fight contest is named “Art Creation James.”

And that’s all I’ve got for you today. Stay tuned for another post tomorrow, when I will resume being the greatest Minor League Baseball blogger of all time.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Charleston RiverDogs 2015: Food Explosion!

An annual tradition here in the land of the Biz Blog — or Bizbloglandia, as some have taken to calling it — is to dedicate a post to the Charleston RiverDogs’ latest food offerings. And for good reason! In recent years, the RiverDogs have graced us with Beer Shakes, the Homewrecker Hot Dog, the Pickle Dog , the Pig on a StickPimento Pickle Burgers, duck and venison sausages and much, much more.

The team’s culinary landscape is overseen by John “Schu” Schumacher, food and beverage director of the Goldklang Group (of which the RiverDogs are a part). Schu, in conjunction with his Charleston compatriots Josh Shea and Jay Weekley, have created the following new concession items for 2015. I’ll let Schu, whose text is magically italicized, take it from here:

Josh, Jay and the crew worked especially hard over the off-season to come up with some incredible new menu items and hopefully some popular jaw-droppers. In no particular order: 

Brisket Ramen Bowl: 

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Ramen noodles sautéed with an orange teriyaki glaze, julienned snow peas, carrot ribbons & green onions. Topped with sliced smoked brisket and a hardboiled egg.

Turkey Wings and Pork Rind Basket

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Two slow smoked 1/2 pound turkey wings with a blackberry sage BBQ sauce served over in-house cooked pork rinds.

We are especially excited about these two items:

Chicken N Waffles: 

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Chicken tenders stacked between a Belgian waffle and drizzled with a smoked honey and Sriracha glaze.

A Knot to Remember: 

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A giant 24 ounce soft pretzel served in a pizza box with marinara, garlic butter and cheese sauce for dipping. 

Meanwhile, for vegetarians with an appetite…

Summer Harvest Salad (feeds 2-3 people):

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An entire hydroponic butter leaf lettuce head stuffed with a buttery quinoa mixture. The mixture includes grape tomatoes, edamame, fresh herbs and carrots. Topped with sprouts, sunflower seeds and a creamy avocado dressing.  All served in a replica baseball helmet.

For dessert:

Shock Top Creamsicle Beer Shake

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Shock Top beer blended with vanilla ice cream, OJ and orange flavored simple syrup.

While pictures are not yet available, Schu would also like to let it be known that these three items will be served as well:

Low Country Taco: Smoked pulled pork, slow cooked collards, and mac n cheese layered into a flour tortilla and topped with a Memphis style BBQ sauce. 

Southern Kimchi Dog: Collard greens, kimchi and sweet piquante peppers tossed in soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Piled on top of a Hebrew National hot dog and finished with a garlic Sriracha sauce.

Chocolate Covered Pepper Bacon

When it comes to chocolate-covered pepper bacon, it seems that no explanation is necessary.

Thanks, as always, to Schu for providing me — and by extension, you — with another batch of delectable food information and pictures. Schu make the world a better place.

In other news, my first road trip of the season is imminent. If you’ll be at one of the following locations, or have recommendations regarding who I should talk to at the ballpark, or suggestions regarding what I should check out in the general area, or anything else at all, then please get in touch.

April 11: Bradenton Marauders

April 12: Tampa Yankees

April 13: Dunedin Blue Jays

April 14: Jupiter Hammerheads

April 15: Jackie Robinson Game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach

April 16: St. Lucie Mets

April 17: Brevard County Manatees

April 18: Jacksonville Suns

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Pictures of Ballpark Food, West Michigan Whitecaps Edition

Harbingers of baseball season are everywhere these days. It will soon consume us entirely; we are the Jonah to its whale. One of today’s most prominent harbingers involves that which will be soon be consumed. The West Michigan Whitecaps, perpetual culinary innovators, have unveiled their new 2015 concession items.

Leading the list of additions is the winner of this season’s Food Contest, as voted on by the fans. Among a field of 10 items, the “Hot-to-Tot” nabbed 17% of the votes en route to victory.

Hot-to-Tot, which I assume is a reference to the best movie within the “stock market-savvy talking horse” genre, is described as “Buffalo tater tots with pulled chicken topped with blue cheese.”

Hot_to_Tot_web_4xtadi6j

Hot-to-Tot was an exercise in democracy, but the Whitecaps acted unilaterally as well. The following items will also be added to their array of 2015 concession items:

Nutella Poppers: “Nutella-stuffed sweet dough fried to a golden brown and rolled in sugar.”

Nutella_Poppers1_web_1ytbkc13

Oreo Churros: “Oreo cookie pieces made into a churro served with Oreo frosting.” In my opinion, the team should have named these Choreos.

oreo_churro2014_web_0tpqqwey

Pretzel-Breaded Italian Sausage: (Self-explanatory)

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Beer-A-Misu: “Tiramisu gelato with local stout beer.”

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Chicken and steak quesadillas will also be served at the Whitecaps’ home of Fifth Third Field in 2015, but I do not believe that photos of this item will excite the masses and therefore I will not post it.

Getting back to the “Hot-to-Tot,” the Whitecaps note that “previous winners of the food contest include the Auger Dogger (2014), Baco (2013), Westside Po’ Boy (2012), Chicks with Sticks (2011), the Cudighi Yooper Sandwich and the Declaration of Independence (both 2010). All have now been retired from the menu.”

It was a good run while it lasted, Baco. I got to enjoy one of those when I visited the Whitecaps in 2013.

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The “Fifth Third Burger,” which is 5/3rds of a pound, lives on. Think you can eat one in one sitting?

026Have at it:

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Finally, I would like to commend myself for continuing to celebrate the ballpark food items that I cannot eat due to my 2012 celiac disease diagnosis. Yeah, I suffer for my art. Don’t we all?

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Pictures of New Ballpark Food Items

It’s that time of year again, that time of year when I fulfill my journalistic talent to its full potential by posting pictures of new Minor League ballpark concession offerings.

Following standard operating procedure, we’ll begin with the West Michigan Whitecaps’ annual Fan Food Voting contest.

Through March 6, the masses can vote for one of the following 10 items. The winner will be served at the team’s home of Fifth Third Field in 2015, joining perennial favorites such as the Baco and, of course, the Fifth Third Burger.

west michigan food

First Row: Beer-a-Misu (scoop of tiramisu gelato added to craft beer), Cheesy Does It (hamburger with a cheese bun), Cotton Candy Curveball (cotton-candy wrapped Twinkie), Crispy Pig Chips (pork rinds with all the standard nacho fixings)

Second Row: French Fry Pizza Pie (self explanatory), Hot-to-Tot (tater tots with buffalo chicken and bleu cheese), Kat Dog (Kit-Kat bar inside of a hot dog), Picnic on a Stick (fried chicken, tater tots and pickles on a stick, fried in cornbread batter)

Third Row: The Legend of Pickle Hollowed (a hot dog inside of a hollowed out pickle, deep fried), Weenie Panini (hot dog stuffed panini)

For the record, here’s a picture of the Baco (taken during my 2013 visit to West Michigan)

baco

Keeping within the Midwest League, we now move on the Appleton-based Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. On Thursday afternoon, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers sent the following tweet:

“This,” in this case, was this:

Then, on Friday, the T-Rats executive chef unveiled this. It’s a bacon cheeseburger enveloped within a funnel cake.

No matter what your opinions are regarding hyper-fattening, internet-baiting Minor League cuisine, there is no doubt that chef Hansen knows exactly what he’s doing. I learned this first-hand in 2013, during a visit to the T-Rats’ home of Fox Cities Stadium. Hansen does high and low cuisine with equal aplomb; in his world sesame tuna on endive with pineapple salsa coexists peacefully alongside jerk chicken wings and a Philly cheesesteak.

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Heading east, we find that the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have recently unveiled some new creations as well.

Pork Parfait: “Layers of mashed potatoes, pulled pork and cheese sauce topped with green onions.”

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24-inch Frankfurter, “topped with chili, beer cheese, bacon, onion straws.” It is cut into four pieces; sharing is encouraged.

frankBut this, this is my favorite:

bacon

Finally, the Oklahoma City Dodgers will have more than a new name in 2015. The entity formerly known as the RedHawks will also offer these new concession items.

Actually, disregard the “finally” in the above item. As this blog post was being written, the Asheville Tourists unveiled this:

That looks great and all, but can it compete with a deep-fried Moon Pie?

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(Ben’s Biz file photo)

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Pictures of Food

I’ve recently dedicated a post to showcasing new mascots that can be seen around the Minors; today’s post will focus on that other integral aspect of the Minor League Baseball experience: the food.

Let’s start with the El Paso Chihuahuas, who play their first-ever ballgame at brand-new Southwest University Park on April 28. Concessions at the new facility will be provided by Ovations, who unveiled the ballpark menu last month. Fairly thorough coverage of some of the more unique items can be found HERE and HERE among other places, including an awesome looking beef brisket “Salpicon Salad” that very well may be gluten-free (fingers crossed, I’ll be there on April 29 and 30 and will find out for sure).  I contacted the team in the wake of their concessions unveiling, and Ovations’ Jeff Hanauer responded with the following pictures. And that is what you’re all here for, what you’re always here for: the pictures. Let’s proceed.

The Pico de Gallo will be included with many of the Chihuahuas’ Mexican-themed offerings. It looks outstanding, and this picture is suitable for framing.

PicodeGallo

Alligator bites with jalapeno cornbread (an El Paso specialty?)

Alligator Bites

The Chihua Dog, with bacon, beans, and jalapenos:

ChihuaDog

The Dudley Dog, a foot long and a half a pound, topped with chile con queso and pico de gallo:

DudleyDog

A few of the many “Juarez Dogs” that will be available:

JuarezDogs

This sandwich is called, “From Philly, with Love”.

FromPhillywithLove

The Flamethrower, a half pound burger with ghost peppers, jack cheese, deep fried jalapenos, and chipotle ranch sauce:

Flamethrower

Of course, no discussion of ballpark food is complete without the requisite White Michigan Whitecaps mention. Following in the footsteps of the Fifth Third Burger and the (gluten-free!) Baco, this year’s premier addition is the Auger Dogger. It is a deep-fried hot dog on a stick, surrounded by potato chips. Here’s hoping that this, too is gluten-free:

auger

More notable concession additions, per the Whitecaps:

Pretzilla Bacon Cheeseburger (a pretzel bun with a one-third pound hamburger patty, bacon and cheese).

Coaches’ Sandwich – In honor of the three Whitecaps coaches, who hail from Australia (Andrew Graham), Texas (Mike Henneman) and Cuba (Nelson Santovenia), this sandwich includes two slices of ham, Hormel barbeque pulled pork, pickle shreddies, Swiss cheese and shrimp served on a sub bun.

Tony Gates Venison Burger – Named after the 97 WLAV local radio personality who is passionate about the outdoors and is an avid hunter, this venison burger on a bun and will be served at the Steak Cart behind home plate.

Over in Kannapolis, the Intimidators have unveiled some notable new additions. This one is self-explanatory, but I’ll explain: a 64 ounce serving of loaded nachos, served in a batting helmet.

helmet

Also of note is the Dale’s Mater sandwich, a favorite of Dale Earnhardt (for whom the Intimidators are named). It is, quite simply, a tomato sandwich with Duke’s mayonnaise.

The Trenton Thunder have unveiled a new signature item, one with a distinctly New Jersey flair. The Thunder Dog is “a jumbo sized Black Bear Franks hot dog wrapped in American cheese and famous Trenton pork roll and served on a torpedo roll.”

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Also new in Trenton is the “Mega Nachos” stand, which can (and should!) be gluten-free. Sez the team:

Another new addition on the first base side is Mega Nachos, where fans can build-their-own nachos from a variety of toppings including: cheese, queso, chili, steak, chicken, pulled pork, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and olives.

The Thunder have long had a Chickie and Pete’s stand at the ballpark, but these Philly-area purveyors of sandwiches and (gluten-free!) crab fries are now in Wilmington as well:

And, hey, for those of you who consider gluttony to be a virtue: the Frederick Keys have recently announced a rather considerable eating challenge. Think you can do it? If so, what’s wrong with you?

Finally, in Fresno, the Grizzlies are now serving a “Grizzly Egg.” Per the Fresno Bee, it’s a “cream cheese-filled deviled egg, wrapped in bacon, baked and drizzled in buffalo sauce.” This thing better be gluten-free, because it looks awesome!

GRIZZLIES

And that’s all of the food news I have to share with you, at least for the next couple of days. In the meantime, please know that I am writing up a storm over at MiLB.com:

New Promo Preview leads with the Louisville Bats Corky Miller #FeartheStache t-shirt.

New Farm’s Almanac takes a look at team-branded beer throughout the Minors.

And, as always, much more to come! There’s a reason that I say that I am the greatest of all time: because it’s true.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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RiverDogs Concessions 2014: Boozier, Smokier, Greener, Healthier

Signs of spring are all around us, from warmer weather to Major League Baseball being played at ungodly hours on international soil to tiresome Twitter jokes about busted NCAA brackets. But, for me, one of the surest signs of spring is the arrival of an email from John “Schu” Schumacher, food and beverage director of the Goldklang Group (the Minor League ownership group consisting of the Charleston RiverDogs, Fort Myers Miracle, Hudson Valley Renegades, St. Paul Saints, and Pittsfield Suns).

Schu is based in Charleston, and each offseason he and his RiverDogs cohorts retreat to a secluded kitchen location in order to concoct new food and beverage options that will be served at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park. In previous seasons I have written extensively about these culinary creations, from the Homewrecker Hot Dog to the Pickle Dog to the Pig on a Stick  to Pimento Pickle Burgers and Facebook Nachos to duck and venison sausages to beer shakes and jalapeno peanut butter and jelly burgers.

Which brings us to now, which is all there ever was and all there will ever be. On the cusp of the 2014 campaign, Schu has gotten in touch with his annual email missive. I now cede the floor to him.

[RiverDogs food and beverage director] Josh [Shea] and I finally got out of the test kitchen and have determined our new menu items for the ’14 season…here are the highlights. 

New and Improved Beer Shakes: 

2014-03-20 16.47.14

Beer Shakes were so popular last year, of course they will still be on the menu but we’re kicking it up a notch by adding Spiked Beer Shakes (beer & booze). Guinness Kahlua Shake & Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Beer paired with a Cathead Pecan Vodka. We will also have a rotating specials.

And, in other alcohol news:

Our Wine Garden will be tweaked into a Sangria Garden serving 4 in-house made Sangrias concoctions (a red, 2 whites and a rose Sangria).

Sushi Dog

Our signature hot dog this year will be a Sushi Dog (a hot dog rolled in Nori paper with wasabi sweet & spicy mustard and a seaweed/cilantro/cabbage slaw.

Commercial Smoker

smokerWe purchased a Commercial Smoker to prepare in-house specialties (brisket, tri-tip sirloin, frog legs & rotating specials).

Yes, frog legs:

Taco Garden

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We started a self-serve Taco Herb Garden in ’13 – the fans loved it! So in 2014 we will be adding 2 more self-serve gardens for our fans to customize their menu items.

Carrot Dogs (and more)

carrotdog

We’ll be adding some additional items to our Healthy Menu – a herb Turkey Burger and a Carrot Dog (a herb & honey roasted carrot stuffed in a bun with cilantro cabbage slaw & drizzled with a Sriracha Honey).

T-shirts (non-edible)

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All told, this will be a lot for Charleston to chew on.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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The Po’ Boy Becomes a Po’ Man

You guessed it: in a continuation of recent blogging trends, today’s post will cover in-season topics that I didn’t get around to covering during the season itself. And today’s topic is one near and dear to many of your hearts, even though your heart would be much better off without it.

I am talking, of course, about colossally oversized food items. In a move ripped straight out of the Lake County Captains playbook, this July the Pensacola Blue Wahoos debuted a monstrous menagerie of deep-battered seafood that they called “The Battleship.”

battle

Sez the team:

Tasked with creating something out of the box and unprecedented in Minor League Baseball, Blue Wahoos Executive Chef Chris Voorhees and Sous Chef Travis Wilson came up with the Battleship. It is a culinary creation that will tickle the fancy of any seafood loving sports fan.

“It’s like a po’boy all grown up,” said Voorhees.

So why not call it the Po’ Man? We’ll leave that question for another day, so that I may once again have a press release do my job for me:

[The Battleship] features jumbo fresh caught gulf shrimp, fried fresh oysters, two whole fried soft shell blue crabs and lightly fried potato salad “baseballs” with lettuce, sliced tomatoes and lemon tartar sauce all on a foot-long French bread roll garnished with a pair of grape tomato “pegs”.

The sandwich is large enough to feed a small family, but if fans can finish the entire thing on their own in under 11:21 minutes they get their name and picture on the Blue Wahoos Battleship Wall of Fame and an “I sank the Battleship” t-shirt. If they can ‘Sink the Battleship’ in under nine minutes, they get the wall recognition, t-shirt and the sandwich is free. So far the fastest finisher did so in 11:21 minutes, thus setting the benchmark for recognition.

Clearly, this is one game of Battleship that will always end with the call of “I-8.” (Even if what’s being “sunk” more closely resembles a sub.)

And — update! — check out this informative and compulsively readable post on the Battleship, courtesy of the Blue Wahoos’ “Hook, Line, and Sinker” blog.

As most of you know, my days of consuming Brobdingnagian concession stand entities has gone the way of the dodo, thanks to a 2012 celiac disease diagnosis (file under “What can you do?”). For those who may be interested, this summer Alysa Bajenaru interviewed me about my life as a “ballpark celiac” for her “Inspired RD” blog. Alysa also has celiac disease, and as the wife of professional pitcher-turned-coach Jeff Bajenaru she’s spent an inordinate amount of time at the ballpark as well.

ballparkceliac

Read the interview HERE, because I’ve got nothing else to offer today. Thus concludes Ben’s Biz Blog post #995.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

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Making Concessions to Fitness

In my capacity as floundering elder blogger-statesman of the Minor League scene, I’ve written about more than my share of patently unhealthy and/or ridiculously oversized and/or ridiculously conceived concession items.

Y’know, like this “Ramen Dawg” that the Salem Red Sox served during last month’s “College Night” promotion.

ramen-dawg

But there’s a yin to every yang, a Jekyll to every Hyde, a Shobam to every Yobam, which is to say that for the remainder of today’s post I will feature some downright healthy ballpark undertakings.

Let’s start with the Akron Aeros, who, perhaps in atonement for the “Inside Out Burger,” recently staged a promotion with the undeniably awesome name of “Vegan Iron Chef.” Director of promotions Christina Shisler explains:

For Vegan Iron Chef we have partnered with the “Who’s Your Mama? Earth Day Festival” to bring in Vegan Iron Chef contestants and a Vegetable Carving Championship Competition to Canal Park on April 22 (Earth Day)! There will be eight chefs making vegan dishes for a table of judges. Fans will get to watch, as the competition begins when gates open, and then sample vegan food throughout the game.

Two of the competitors in action.

Chef prepping for judgesThe results of the chefs’ labor:

All Eight Vegan Iron Chef DishesThe judges assemble

Vegan Iron Chef serving the Judges

And, yes, there was also a Vegetable Carving Championship.

Team-logo Cantaloupe. (Cantalogo?)

Veggie Go AerosThe runners-up:

Veggie Carving Runner Up

Winner, winner, meat-free dinner!

Veggie Carving Winner

For another excellent bit of healthy ballpark living we go to the Quad Cities, as the River Bandits staged a “Race the Game” promotion as a follow-up of sorts to their inaugural 5K race.  Director of promotions and marketing Shane Huff explains:

[We] invited one of the top overall finishers [in the 5K race] to come back to today’s game and literally race the game. This contestant, Marvin McMeekan, will try to comlete a 9-mile run on a treadmill – placed on the outfield berm for everyone to see – before the game becomes official. If Marvin can beat the game, EVERYONE in attendance wins a prize. We’re going to interview Marvin before the game and do live look-ins throughout the game to help build suspense.

Marvin in action.

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Sean Flynn photography

I, for one, never had any doubt that Marvin would complete the task. And he did, ably. Writes Huff:

It went very well. The live look-ins between innings really helped get the crowd get into it. And Marvin crushed it! He completed the 9 miles with just under an inning to spare!

It went so well that we’re already discussing plans on doing it again later this summer on a night with a bigger crowd and better prizes.

Race the Game is a great, easily adaptable idea and if it doesn’t catch on then I will be deeply disappointed in the entire industry. (Crushed, even, in the non I-just-outraced-a-ballgame-sense-of-the-word.)

And if you want add a real sense of drama to the whole thing, then invite me to be the runner. I’d probably fail, and failing is what I do best (especially in front of crowds).

On that note I shall conclude. Tomcat says “Have a Great Weekend!”

Kitty-Growl-Awesomeness

More on that guy in an upcoming post.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

A Shell of a Good Idea

Year after year (after year after year) there are two Minor League teams that can be counted on to deliver the goods when it comes to creating unique concession items. One of those teams is the Charleston RiverDogs, featured yesterday.

And the other?

The West Michigan Whitecaps, of course, who made a colossal impact with 2009’s “Fifth Third Burger” and, since then, have never looked back. Each year they present 10 potential menu additions to their presumably food-crazy fan base, and the one that receives the most online votes is integrated into the concession offerings.

This year’s addition is (lurching, arrhythmic, artery-clogged drumroll please): The Baco!

Baco_2

The Baco (which, when first announced, had an umlaut in its name) is, quite simply, a bacon-shelled taco. Because variety is the spice of life, here’s another view:

Baco_3

And because the rule of threes must always be abided by, here’s one more look.

Baco_1

The Baco will be sold to anyone willing to purchase one, no strings attached. But the other truly significant addition to the Whitecaps’ concession menu REQUIRES FANS TO SIGN A WAIVER. This is the “Squeelin’ Pig,” to be eaten at your own risk.

IMG_7161

Regarding the above sandwich, the Whitecaps have this to say:

Billed as the spiciest sandwich served at any ballpark, this is a pulled pork sandwich packed with a punch of Giardinara, a sprinkle of Ghost Pepper and flaming BBQ sauce.

It’s certainly the spiciest ballpark sandwich that I am aware of (if you have a dissenting view, then please let me know). I think this deserves a closer look. I mean, not all that much closer. Just a little bit:

IMG_7159

Okay, my picture supply is officially exhausted (although please note that I actually have multiple pictures). But even in the absence of images, I must carry on. For the Whitecaps have actually added 17 items to their 2013 concession line-up, and I’d like to alert you to some of the highlights:

Fried Mac & Jack Cheese Bites – Macaroni and Jack cheese, battered and fried.  (Main Concessions Stands)

Iced Coffee – Swiss Mocha or French Vanilla creamy iced coffee topped with whipped cream. (Suites and Main Concessions Stands)

Mac & Cheese Cart – Traditional or White Mac & Cheese topped with your choice of bacon, lobster, buffalo chicken, hamburger, or chili (Home Plate Concourse Cart)

Smoked Sausage Kabobs – Seasoned and apple wood smoked sausage, potato, and green pepper kabobs (1st Base Concourse Smoker)

Moo-ville Ice Cream – Flavors such as Supercow and Cowtrails top the list of a variety of premium ice creams sold at the ballpark (3rd Base Concourse)

Red’s Apple Ale, Perrin Golden Ale, and Shock Top Apple Crisp Beers– New unique profile beers to be served throughout the ballpark.  (Beer Portables)

ALSO! The Whitecaps’ website features a downloadable PDF of their Gluten-Free Menu. Great news for celiac-afflicted individuals such as myself, and something I’d love to see more teams do. Let me know if your team, in fact, does.

Oh, and because I’m the best there ever was, is, or will be, this post isn’t the only thing I’ve produced today. New Ben’s Bookshelf column out NOW, featuring my favorite Minor League Baseball books. What are yours?

diebooksbenjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

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