BRADENTON, Fla. – 16,000 miles, more than 30 ballparks, and some of the best hot dogs in the world…sounds like any baseball fan’s dream. Well one man is living it and his journey has brought him to the Suncoast.
Tom Lohr is a man on a search for the best ballpark hot dog.
Since April 12th, he has traveled the country with a goal of eating hot dogs in every Major League ballpark, plus any other parks he comes across.
"People have tested hot dogs in many different places. They can tell you who has a great hot dog. People have been to the baseball stadiums, but no one can tell you which one feels best to sit in the stands and munch on a dog watching a baseball game."
People often say you don't want to know what's in hot dogs, but we asked Nakita Chadwick of Geier’s Sausage Kitchen in Sarasota. "It's beef, pork and veal. And we take only the finest quality cuts and we emulsify it, and we add all the ingredients."
With that in mind, what draws Lohr to his great hot dog quest? "Nothing is interwoven into the fabric of Americana than baseball and hot dogs."
While eating the dogs, Lohr scores them on a rubric designed by him and the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. "I've been to 27 of 30 Major League parks, and only one has pulled down a perfect score. And that is the Baltimore Orioles.”
So how does he score them? "The total ballpark hot dog experience is 60 points; 30 points for the hot dog, 30 points for the ballpark. And the hot dog is scored on the bun, the frank, the availability of toppings, the price of the dog, the portability of the dog."
Eating all those hot dogs, how does he stay healthy? "There's a lot of running involved when I can. A lot of times it’s not possible. I probably gained a few pounds.”
On Friday evening he brings his hot dog experience to McKechnie Field in Bradenton. “I was here to see the Rays, and the Rays play tomorrow, and I don’t want any dead space, so tonight is the Bradenton Marauders."