Results tagged ‘ Crazy Hot Dog Vendor ’
The Reading Phillies were one of the highlights of last year’s Pennsylvania-centric road trip, as I was able to witness (and participate in) the team’s extensive tribute to the iconic Crazy Hot Dog Vendor. I even got the opportunity to dress up as his “apprentice” and throw a few hot dogs into the crowd myself.
This year’s tribute to the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor took place on Sunday (July 10), and once again I was in attendance. Looking back on it, I’m not sure this was the best idea — I wasn’t on any particular assignment, just motivated to get out of New York City and see some Minor League Baseball. In all honesty, I’m half insane this time of year — either overwhelmed by Minor League Baseball or beating myself up because I’m not.
So off I went. And this time, I made sure to arrive in Reading in time to visit the town’s star attraction: The Pagoda.
This is a quirky place with a quirky history, but nonetheless a beloved area landmark. As all-knowing Wikipedia reports, The Pagoda was “completed in 1908 at a cost of $50,000, it was intended to be the hotel/restaurant centerpiece of a luxury resort. When plans for the rest of the resort were abandoned, the 7-story wooden building and 10 acres of land were donated to Reading as a public park in 1911.”
The main attraction are the views:
Inside the main entrance of the Pagoda is a small cafe and gift shop. For $1, one may trudge up all 87 steps to the top floor.
I would have liked to hang glide from the Pagoda to FirstEnergy Stadium, but that option is no longer available. It was nonetheless a painless 10 minute drive, and upon arriving I checked out the stadium’s refurbished exterior. As you may remember, the 60-year-old facility underwent a $10 million renovation this past offseason.
It was a full two hours before game time, and the place was already jumping. The Reading Phillies do a phenomenal job (better than any team I’ve ever seen) when it comes to making the ballpark a pre-game entertainment destination. Upon entering the “Vist Financial Plaza”, there is a carnival-esque concourse area packed with concessions, games, a bar, and performance stage.
But I made a beeline for the seating area behind home plate, as members of the team’s “Kid’s Club” (aka “Future Crazy Hot Dog Vendors) were participating in a Question and Answer session with theme jersey-wearing pitchers Austin Hyatt and and Derrick Loop.
Questions included “How do you know what time it is to hit?”, “After you hit someone, do you feel bad?”, and “Do you guys ever get to go to ‘real’ Phillies games?”
After Hyatt and Loop departed, out came the man himself:
It was around this time that I dropped my camera onto the concrete. It wasn’t a high drop or particularly hard landing, but nonetheless the screen froze and it was rendered unusable.
The lack of a camera, compounded by my general confusion over exactly what I was hoping to accomplish in Reading in the first place, led to a bit of an existential crisis. When a blogger breaks his camera, does he cease to exist?
The answer, in this case, was yes. After touring the ballpark, sans camera, with media relations director Tommy Viola I stuffed my credentials in my pocket and spent the remainder of the evening simply watching the ballgame. It was kind of nice, actually.
But this post shall continue, thanks to these photos from R-Phils team photographer Ralph Trout.
The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor’s legion of “future vendors” received free t-shirts, and later got to perform on the field.
See that suspiciously big-headed individual in the middle of the above shot? That’s the “life-size 550-lb Crazy Hot Dog Vendor replica,” awarded to one lucky (?) fan after the ballgame.
The aforementioned “VIST Financial Plaza” is highlighted by a performance stage. If you’re lucky, the mascot band will be playing.
Truly, the R-Phils know how to pack ’em in.
Toward the end of the ballgame, I decided to see how my camera was doing. The good news was the screen was no longer frozen, but the bad news was that the batteries had drained. I snapped one quick photo before it shut off for good.
And that, as they say, was that.
2011 promotional schedules are being released at a rapid clip these days, with highlights aplenty.
A “Human Home Run” is exactly what you would think it is. Say the Spinners:
“When it comes to human cannonballs, David Smith is the best of the best,” said Spinners Vice President Jon Goode. “This is an idea we discussed years ago and he saved it for the Lowell Spinners. Five years in the making, this is going to be a night you will not want to miss.”
Human Cannonball-ing runs in the Smith family, as David Sr. currently holds the world record for “farthest cannonball flight” for his 185 ft. shot in 1998. Unless the Spinners move the fences WAY in, Jr’s home run flight at LeLacheur Park will far surpass this.
Regardless, I plan to cover this promotion with the same fervor I devote to human fireballs. Stay tuned.
In Other Promo News:
Yesterday the Reading Phillies announced the latter half of their “Top 20 2011 Promotions.”
The team is once again staging a “Tribute to the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor“, and this time one lucky fan will win a 550-pound life-size replica of the man himself. For those keeping track at home, this is the second 550-pound life-size replica giveaway that the R-Phils have announced. Will there be more to come?
— The Lancaster JetHawks have announced a “Stadium Dust Globe” giveaway, in honor of their oft-stormy ballpark weather conditions. I hail them for their creativity, snow doubt this’ll rain supreme in 2011’s giveaway pantheon.
— And speaking of Stormy, the anemometer-ically correct Omaha Storm Chasers mascot is now the star of a new video series. Find out why it’s not easy being green.
Finally, TWO teams have recently asked fans to submit potential 2011 theme songs — the Huntsville Stars and Durham Bulls. I am always happy to feature franchise-specific tunes on this blog. Send ’em on over, please.
Last week I posted “Roast Beef Initiation”, a four-and-a-half minute comedy video written by and starring Phillies farmhands Tagg Bozied and Matt Rizzotti. The film illuminates an overlooked aspect of the Reading baseball experience: the unique pressures of being the “Arby’s RBI Guy”.
The premise behind the “Arby’s RBI Guy” is simple — if the #4 hitter in the R-Phils’ line-up knocks in a run, fans in attendance can redeem their ticket stubs for a complimentary Roast Beef Sandwich.
Bozied began the season as the regular “Arby’s RBI Guy”, but after getting hurt he was replaced by Rizzotti. Bozied is currently back in his familiar “RBI Guy” role, as Rizzotti received a call-up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley earlier this month.
But regardless who has been tasked with the “RBI Guy” duties, this is a promotion that has been embraced with great enthusiasm by the Reading faithful — perhaps too much enthusiasm, as it turns out.
On The Motivation For the Film:
Tagg Bozied: In Reading, you have to walk through the fans [in the concourse] to get from the dugout to the locker room. And one day shortly before the All-Star Break, Matt told me this story, like “You’re not going to believe what this fan just told me.”
Matt Rizzotti: This guy comes up to me and says “Thanks for not getting an RBI, now I’m not eating tonight!’ Then he walked away. He was seriously mad!
TB: It really is funny, especially if you know anything about playing in Reading. One time we participated in a kid’s [baseball] clinic, and when we were introduced as the RBI Guys 200 kids immediately started chanting “Roast Beef….Roast Beef.” If you’re part of that culture, you can’t help but embrace it. Both of us did, it changes up the routine from normal everyday life.
MR: It’s funny to think that the whole thing bloomed from a guy telling me how much I sucked….It was just perfect, we took the idea and ran with it.
On the Creative Process
MR: Coming back from the [Eastern League] All-Star Game, we had the whole bus to ourselves. We’re just sitting in the back, and the idea came about that we should make a video. And Tagg was like, “Hold on!” The notepad immediately came out, and we started rattling off ideas. You obviously have to know a bit about Reading to best appreciate things like the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor throwing sandwiches off of my face, or the usher singing the seventh-inning stretch on a two-person bicycle.
TB: We both enjoy movies, and really pay attention to delivery. We wanted it to be funny, and dramatic, and worked real hard on the timing and the body language.
On the Movie’s Most Memorable Scene (aka: “Roast Beef to the Face”)
MR: [Crazy Hot Dog Vendor] Matt Jackson is a really nice guy, so he was hesitant, like, “Dude, I don’t want to throw sandwiches at your face.” We were like “You will get angry, and you will launch roast beef sandwiches off of my face!” That was the only way it was going to look good. It took a few takes because he kept missing, but the first hit really started an onslaught.
TB: I couldn’t stop laughing, it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen.
MR: Yeah, it’s not every day that you get roast beef sandwiches launched off of your face.
TB: I’m just glad we were able to document this. Playing in the Minor Leagues, you end up doing a lot of stupid stuff to keep entertained, and just have to celebrate it for what it is. This kind of thing, it’s what you do to keep your mind relaxed.
On Their Filmmaking Future
TB: We had a good time doing this, but if we do anything else it might not be as good. Like Karate Kid II.
MR: Or Back to the Future III….Next year, if me and Tagg are on the same team, then maybe we could do one or two more videos. But, I don’t know, it would be tough to beat this one. It just had a…
MR: Yeah, mystique! See, that’s Tagg. He’s always there for me.
And now, an encore presentation of “Roast Beef Initiative,” written, directed, and starring Tagg Bozied and Matt Rizzotti. Andy Kauffman, the Reading Phillies video director, handled production duties.
This is because baseball, quite inconsiderately, doesn’t take a day off. So while I was on the road cranking out articles, blog posts, Promo Preview columns, and frivolous contest introductions, the emails kept coming in alerting me to items that may be worthy of coverage.
Allow me to now present to you, the reader, some of these items. I’ll start with the most narcissistic, a 42-second video commemorating my stint as “The Apprentice…Of the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.“
With that out of the way, let’s proceed to last night’s promotion in Akron. The Aeros held “Ship Out LeBron Night”, in which fans were asked to donate unwanted LeBron James apparel in exchange for free tickets.
As you can see, quite a few fans took the team up on its offer. As soon as Orbit is done playing around, these items will be donated to an international relief organization.
Another thing you don’t see every day is 3,692 people popping bubble wrap at the same time. It makes a sound quite similar to dessicated locust husks bouncing off the roof of a station wagon.
As part of the promotion, the Spinners rolled out the “Bubblewrap Dance Floor.” To celebrate 50 years of bubblewrap, 50-year-olds were invited onto the field to dance to 50 cent.
An even more Rainman-esque aspect of the promotion was that the 50th fan in attendance would get a year’s supply of popcorn if the 50th out of the game occurred via pop out. It did, and one lucky fan took home a vast collection of kernels (Spinners media relations director Jon Boswell writes that, keeping in the spirit of the promotion, “He’ll have to do the popping himself!”)
Torii Hunter Bobble-Arm in Orem
Skipper Leg Lamp in Lake County
I wish that the above item was being given away as part of a “Salute to Hallucinogenic Fever Dreams” promo, but there’s actually a story behind it. See, the Captains are staging “Christmas In July”, and “A Christmas Story” was filmed in nearby Cleveland. Hence, a giveaway featuring a Minor League twist on one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.
And speaking of the Captains, you may recall that one of the team’s biggest fans comes to nearly every game dressed like Waldo. Recently, this horizontally-striped standout took his act to Cleveland:
Certainly a Waldo this ambitious is worthy of your Facebook fandom. Perhaps I can even score an exclusive interview one of these days.
This year’s contest is shaping up to be the best yet, as teams have mounted homegrown promotional campaigns in support of their players. Here’s one of the best efforts I’ve seen thus far:
Finally, you may have noticed that the Charleston RiverDogs and Hickory Crawdads have recently been the recipients o
f some big-time exposure:
Perhaps I’ll receive some big-time exposure one of these days. Until then, I’ll be staring at a computer screen in search of a clever closing sentence that never comes.
Like an extra-marital liaison between Howie and Shelley, today’s stint at Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium was a very Long affair (so long that you are left with sentences like the preceding). But sleep cannot come until this post is done, so let’s get to it.
The R-Phils staged a tribute to the inimitable Crazy Hot Dog Vendor this evening, and I was more than happy to get in on the act:
I was just one of many Crazy Hot Dog Vendor imitators at the ballpark, however, as Reading has gone mad for this ostrich-riding aerial distributor of encased meats. The CHDV is the alter-ego of long-time front office employee Matt Jackson, who was very much in demand throughout Sunday’s extravaganza. Here he is getting ready to meat the masses, with and without the help of his personal trainer:
The kids were out in force, a full 90 minutes before the game:
You’ll notice, of course, that many of these kids were proudly wearing that day’s “Crazy Hot Dog Vendor T-Shirt” giveaway. Soon after the Q and A, an assemblage of the CHDV’s most die-hard fans got to go onto the field and perform with their hero. Thanks to the fortuitous existence of a spare ostrich, I was able to join them:
One enthusiastic youngster explained his hot dog-throwing strategy as follows (I’m paraphrasing here, you can’t ride an ostrich and take notes at the same time): “You’ve got to find the people who aren’t going crazy, and then pretend you’re going to throw it to them. Then find someone who is going crazy.”
As for me, my performance was lackluster. I lamely identified myself as “The Apprentice (awkward pause) of the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor” on the mic, and then all my spare hot dogs fell out of my breast pocket after my first throw. Also, I think I hurt my right knee somehow.
But anyway, after these misadventures I finally had the chance to limp around the premises. FirstEnergy Stadium (not to be confused with FirstEnergy Park) is nearly 60 years old, but the R-Phils have maximized seemingly every inch of available space. There is a lot going on, everywhere, and an old-time carnival aesthetic prevails:
The R-Phils players were decked out in these quite-spectacular CHDV jerseys (next two photos credited to Ralph Trout/Reading Phillies):
Meanwhile, the CHDV was basking in the adulation under the third base stands:
Screwball also has his share of loyal fans, who lined up for pictures and autographs as if he was Santa Claus:
Meanwhile, gm Scott Hunsicker (dressed for the occasion) was leading an ALS charity auction, selling off autographed memorabilia to the highest bidder:
Only in Reading would you see a post-game interview that looks like this:
And only at 4:21 a.m. would you see a blog post ending like this.
The last time one of Reading’s racing vegetables appeared on this blog was when Cauliflower endured a humbling clothesline takedown courtesy of Jerry “The King” Lawler.
Cauliflower is a fighter, but his equally nutritious compatriot Broccoli is a lover. On Saturday, this flowery green romantic sprinted into the stands immediately after winning that night’s Vegetable Race. He made a beeline for one special lady, in order to express his love eternal:
I am not one to use the word “adorable” very often. But, seriously, these pictures are adorable:
Meanwhile, the R-Phils are currently preparing for Sunday’s tribute to the inimitable Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.
The team will take the field wearing these uniforms, which just might be the most ridiculous theme jerseys of the 2010 season.
I seem to have misplaced my information regarding who the above players are,
but, nonetheless, they are players. They are also television stars:
I am worried that I may be neglecting other stories in the field of vegetable betrothal and vertically-striped theme jersey celebrations. Please get in touch with info pertaining to these subjects, as well as info pertaining to just about anything else. I want it all.
Perhaps this explains why the Altoona Curve have made national headlines today, after a bizarre incident at Blair County Ballpark last night. After sneaking into the stadium via a parking garage, an intoxicated homeless man wandered across the outfield during the bottom of the ninth inning of a contest between the Curve and Akron Aeros.
The man, who lacked identification but gave his name as “Tyrone R. Squires”, was detained by Curve security without incident and then turned over to Altoona police. A detailed write-up of Squires’ misadventures appeared in today’s edition of The Altoona Mirror, and this account served as the basis of an Associated Press article that has been picked up by The New York Times among other outlets.
Curve media relations director Dan Zangrilli said the team was a bit perplexed over the national attention.
“It wasn’t that big a deal, quite honestly. It was just a guy who decided to take a little cruise along the warning track,” he said. “The whole thing was uneventful, and posed no threat to players or fans. That said, we do take this kind of thing seriously. Trespassing is a serious offense, and we turned him over to the authorities.”
But right now the team has bigger issues on its mind: preserved meat products. Tonight’s Wacky Wednesday promotion at Blair County Ballpark is “Livin La Vida Lunch Meat”, a comprehensive salute to all things meaty that received a write-up in the most recent edition of “Promotion Preview.”
“It’s all about the Braunschweiger, baby,” said Zangrilli.
— I hope to continue yesterday’s classification-based post in the near future, but for now I’ll dispense with such formalities in order to share a couple of most-interesting Minor League developments.
The Brooklyn Cyclones have released a sketch of what is sure to be one of 2010’s most-sought after bobbleheads: Mets rookie sensation (and former Cyclone) Ike Davis in the midst of one of his now trademark dugout-tumbling snags:
The giveaway is on August 2, distributed to the first 2500 fans — get your tickets now and arrive early.
In other intriguing bobblehead news, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have announced the finalists for September’s “Fan’s Choice” bobble.
In my mind, the choice that stands out above the rest is “Scooter Vs. the Snowman”, commemorating a particularly memorable moment that occurred during the club’s whitewashed Opening Day.
Finally, I wanted to share this video I received from the Memphis Redbirds, featuring a Baby T-Rex throwing out the first pitch. It’s going to be a long time before I tire of watching this:
The Baby T-Rex is scheduled to make its next appearance in Reading on May 25, once again throwing out the first pitch and then spending the remainder of the game ambling through the stadium. This will allow fans plenty of time to contemplate the genetic links between dinosaurs and the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor’s loyal ostrich: