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Hal the Hot Dog Vendor helps unemployed baseball vendors

hal the hot dog guy that sells hot dogs

Michael ZagarisGetty Images

On a normal, non-pandemic Thursday through Sunday summer, Hal Gordon (also known as Hal the Hot Dog Guy) hits the stairs during A’s Games at Oakland Coliseum. The 32-year-old San Francisco resident makes an additional £ 53: Strapped to his neck is a full hot dog buffet with 36 weenies, metal canisters filled with a variety of mustard and ketchup, and a range of standard toppings (relish, Onion, cabbage). Fans love him almost as much as they love the rest of the game. “I started making baseball cards of myself last year,” he says. “If someone says, ‘You’re my favorite hot dog seller,’ I will [give them one]. With young children it will make their day. ”

But then there was summer 2020. And the Ph.D. The University of California Berkeley contestant, who has been selling hot dogs for major league baseball for 15 years, didn’t just lose touch with fans, the excitement of the ballpark, and his means of staying in shape. Like so many others, he lost his summer income.

Baseball cards in a pile with half the hot dog guy

Hal the Hot Dog Guy baseball cards.


His major concern, however, wasn’t really any of it. It was the other providers in the stadium. “The vendors were definitely some of the workers hardest hit by COVID,” he says. “It’s seasonal work, so vendors who rely on baseball – by far the most lucrative sales sport – are used to making a lot of money in the summer and getting through the lean times from October to March. Vendors who are used to it, a thousand Earning dollars or more a week playing ball games now live on a fraction of it. “Some people who have jobs in addition to selling were not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Gordon had other work at the university that summer but wasn’t happy with it. He missed baseball. Missed sale. And apparently the fans missed him too – maybe never more than this October, when the A’s steamed into the postseason and their stadium was still empty. Well it wasn’t entirely free: that year the team allowed people to buy cardboard cutouts of themselves that were placed around the stadium. The proceeds went to local charities, including a community food bank. The A’s even added their own stand-up from Hal the Hot Dog Guy to make things feel authentic. “One thing that has been encouraging is the number of fans who come up on social media and tell me how much they miss buying hot dogs from me or their own favorite sellers,” says Gordon.

A competition

When Gordon heard the roar of these fans on social media, an idea occurred to him. “I was able to raise funds on my Twitter account the first time the season was canceled. I offered to send Hal the Hot Dog Guy baseball cards to anyone who donated to my GoFundMe unemployed vendor campaign,” he says. “I’ve raised more than $ 9,000 and been able to send a check for $ 285 to every union salesman in the Bay Area. It’s not much, but hopefully it lets people know that they are missed and appreciated.”

hal the hot dog guy cardboard cut out

Hal the Hot Dog Guy cardboard clipping will appear during an Oakland A game in July 2020.

MediaNews Group / East Bay Times via Getty Images

Fans aren’t the only ones learning the importance of vendors to baseball. In addition to Hal the Hot Dog Guy and the sea of ​​faux fans at Oakland Coliseum stand-ups, the A’s picked Tom Hanks, who worked there as a salesman during high school, to record Get-yer-Hot-Dog! Calls they mix into the game audio on TV. At least one Hot Dog Guy model has even earned first-class real estate: the team has put a section of Tom Hanks as the salesman directly behind the home plate, which can be seen on every seat.

It’s not just about the game

Gordon says he can’t wait to get back to the Colosseum at some point for so many reasons, including the physical condition of the job. In between he ran up and down (he estimates he would take 8,340 steps in a regular shift on game day at Oakland Coliseum), bent down to pass dogs to seated guests. That’s a lot of squats. “You have to lift your legs,” he says. “Sometimes I would wear a back brace to remind myself not to jerk off when I was pulling things up.” He would also wear knee pads to safely take a knee if necessary. “You have to take care of yourself,” he says.

To that end, he’s learned how to stay hydrated and take inventive breaks. “I’ll drink two or three liters of water during a game. Between each load of hot dogs, I go to the freezer where they keep the ice and only stand for five minutes to recover. ”

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Staying fit without access to a major league stadium has been difficult this season: “I’m not going to lie, it was a little difficult to completely uproot my annual routine and close the gyms,” he says. “I’ve always considered the ‘forced’ exercise of my vending machine to be a feature of this job, and so losing it made me lose the way I stayed in shape every year. Still, I’ve replaced it with a lot of cardio – when the sky is not filled with forest fire smoke. ”

If he can run outdoors, he wants to maximize the elevation gain in San Francisco’s hills to simulate his endless stair climbs on game day. “I mix in a few lunges and a few heel lifts every week to keep my legs strong,” he says. (MH Tip: With the knee standing up, you can build your own hip mobility and quad strength at home. Kneel on Your Shins Lift your right leg and put your right foot on the floor. Shift your weight onto that right leg and put your left foot on the floor. Stand. Reverse motions at start. This is 1 rep; do 3 sets of 8 to 10.)

For Gordon, there is no substitute for the baseball experience. “I can’t wait to sweat and shout in my seats again,” he says. “But I’m also worried that salespeople could be the last part going back to the stadiums. People walking between fans, trying to distance themselves socially, serving them food without being able to wash their hands between each transaction , and perhaps most importantly, screaming and projecting all of our voices seems like one of the riskiest activities after COVID. “At least with his fundraiser, he still managed to provide a way for people to help one another and keep hope .

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