Jill and I’s first date was during the 2003 NLDS, and we were working together the night they won that series, the first postseason series win since the 1908 World Series. The subsequent NCLS, the Alex Gonzalez booted double play ball (that Bartman had nothing to do with), and losing two home games with our aces pitching was tempered by the fact that I had secured a second and a third date. The disappointment of the disastrous 2008 NLDS was made more palatable by the birth of my first niece, and our trip to North Carolina to meet her. The real secret to baseball’s popularity and longevity has little to do with sports, it’s about family. Honestly, is there anything more quintessentially Irish Catholic than rooting for a team that never wins?
The thing I remember most about my first baseball game is the smells. The slight tinge of ozone at the Loyola “El” stop, the pungent combination of humanity and industrial cleaning chemicals inside the train, and the mélange of popcorn, peanuts, and assorted grilled sausages when you step out onto Addison Drive. Most people would guess that the hot dogs from Wrigley Field resemble the typical Chicago style hot dog with bright green sweet relish, poppy seed buns, and a dill pickle spear. While those are delicious, the key to Wrigley Dogs is the pile of grilled onions and green peppers that slowly caramelized next to the hot dogs. It is the smell coming off these grills that remind of “the friendly confines of Wrigley Field” the most. So when baseball season comes around, I like to cook some of these Wrigley Dogs and enjoy the smells of Wrigley Field.
All beef hot dogs – In Chicago go for Vienna. Elsewhere, I find Hebrew Nationals to be a great substitute
White onion, sliced
Green pepper, sliced
Sport peppers – (pepperoncini make a good substitute if you can’t find these)
Dill pickle relish
- Put away the ketchup. No amount of Hail Mary’s is penance enough for this sacrilege.
- In a saute pan, or flat iron grill, melt a little butter and sprinkle in some celery salt. Slowly cook the onions and peppers. The heat should be low enough that they start browning around the 15 minute mark.
- Cook your hot dogs. I prefer flame grilled for that little bit of crunchy seared skin, but boiling and steaming also works.
- Put your hot dog in the bun, smother with the grilled peppers and onions. Add relish, mustard, and sport peppers.
- Finish with a small sprinkle of celery salt
For the full authentic experience, serve with a $12 glass of beer.
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