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20.5 Million Hot Dogs to be Eaten In 2012

The Major League Baseball season kicked off on Wednesday as the revamped Miami Marlins took on the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals at their new stadium in the aptly-named section of Miami called “Little Havana.” The Marlins, like a lot of other teams throughout Major League Baseball, offer a delectable variety of food options which reflect the South Miami culture and lifestyle. Other teams who pioneered this trend include the Seattle Mariners who began selling sushi at Safeco Field since 2001, the San Francisco Giants who offer rice bowls at AT&T Park and the Philadelphia Phillies who serve Philly cheese steak sandwiches at Citizens Bank Park, the staple foods of their cities. Despite these options offered to fans, nothing will ever replace the iconic treat that has been available to fans since the dawn of the 20th century, the hot dog.

In an article written by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council--yes, THE National Hot Dog and Sausage Council--fans are projected to consume approximately 20.5 million hot dogs throughout the 30 Major League ballparks this season. Unfortunately for me, unless they’re being shipped to the MLB Fan Cave, I will be stuck fulfilling my hot dog fix with the local street vendor who resides just outside our 4th and Broadway doors. While I know they will never be as good as the ballpark franks that I’ve consumed over the last 26 years, I can at least sit and reflect upon those meaty wonders every day when my eyes glaze over the “Cave Monster” throughout the season… Coliseum was the base of my first recollected hot dog at a baseball game. It was May 23, 1987, the first Major League game I ever attended as the Oakland A’s took on the Baltimore Orioles on a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon. As a three year old, I thought I was privy to something special, despite the fact that we had gotten nosebleed seats off the third baseline, but that part really didn’t bother me. Being able to watch a live game for the first time was the biggest thrill of my life at the time, and of course, the experience was made all the better by the hot dog my father bought me around the middle of the fourth inning. Back then and up through today I still fix-up my dog the same way, just yellow mustard. It’s pretty simple, I know, but only the slight, tangy zip is all I’ve ever needed to boost the flavor of a ballpark dog. The dogs I get at the Coliseum haven’t changed much in taste (by that I mean they’re delicious), but the size has gotten quite a bit bigger over the years. I think the last time I was there (two games in June of 2011) they were about 10 inches, with a solid circumference that’ll fill you up when paired with a big Pepsi. But, if you’re ever going to an A’s game for a dog, I highly recommend going on Tuesdays for their dollar dog and free parking promotions. On a side note, Mark McGwire blasted his 15th home run of his Rookie of the Year season during that May game I attended.

I’ve only been to Dodger Stadium one time and that was back in 1998 for a game against the Cardinals during Mark McGwire’s season of 70. Oddly enough McGwire sat out due to injury, but veteran third baseman Gary Gaetti filled in perfectly by crushing three dingers that night. The really cool part of the night actually started before first pitch. My father was there on a business trip with the Dodgers and we were given exclusive access to The Players Club, which is the luxury restaurant on the second deck just right of the right field foul pole. While the massive spread was amazing, the one thing that caught my eye was the pyramid of Dodger dogs on a silver platter in the middle of the table. And of course, being the mischievous 15-year-old that I was, I jammed about 12 into my pockets for when the game started. The foot-long classic definitely helped sustain my energy levels throughout the game, which I used to heckle the bat boy named Freddie and “Titanic” star Billy Zane, who was sitting 2 rows ahead of me.

The only other Major League parks that I’ve visited and enjoyed a hot dog at are the old Angels stadium in Anaheim, Candlestick Park and Safeco Field. While I will admit they were delicious and satisfying, my predisposition is to have bias against them due to being an A’s fan. Kidding, of course. In all honesty for me, I don’t discriminate between the dog selection available between parks. All of them are great in their own way. But most importantly, they are the real food experience in baseball. So 20.5 million hot dogs consumed estimation? I know for a fact that I would chow down on about 50 or so if given the chance. I think that number is a little low.

Now, I unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity to visit any of the ballparks east of the Sierra Nevadas, so I put it to you! Which ballpark dogs do I need to chow down on? And whose are the best?