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With about as many losses as wins, last week’s Phillies outings were mostly memorable for one thing: the groupthink decision that Dollar Dog Night should result in franks flying onto the field in dismay.
But this isn’t new. The thrown hot dog has been part of Philadelphia baseball for years, from being used as a managerial inspiration tool to becoming an inadvertent face-seeking missile.
Here’s a short history of Philly’s experience with the meat-based, tube-shaped messages of disgruntlement.
1974: Inspiring better play with…hot dog rolls?
In 1974, Danny Ozark was being asked about his potential to scare a little life into his team.
The manager had famously thrown a ball bag onto the field in frustration the previous year. “Made a damn idiot out of myself,” Ozark reflected, but the act had riled up his team and gotten a desirable result.
This time, he’d need a little more than a ball bag to light a fire, but it couldn’t be anything he’d plan, Ozark explained to reporters while lighting a cigarette. “It’s got to be something that comes up in the spur of the moment. It can’t be manufactured.”
To what spur-of-the-moment item did he turn? Of course — though the move was ultimately unsuccessful.
“That [loss] in Los Angeles, I came in the clubhouse and I threw those hot dog rolls,” Ozark said, “yet it didn’t help matters. We lost a few ball games after that.”
2008: Shaming a team into winning a championship
It’s difficult to remember a time when throwing food at the stadium wasn’t helpful. Tossed hot dogs made their appearance in the second game of the Phillies’ storied 2008 season.
Philadelphia was visiting the Washington Nationals. That there were lots of fans in the ballpark was an anomaly — at the time, D.C.’s team was so lackluster that the crowd depended on the opposition fans’ willingness to travel.
But the Nats were on a mini roll, having notched a winning start to the season. The Phils had blown their Opening Day game, giving up five runs in the ninth to the team that would finish the year with 102 losses.
During the second game, Cole Hamels pitched magnificently. But Tim Redding of the Nationals pitched a little better, keeping the Phillies’ lineup utterly silent for seven innings.
The Phillies lost 1-0 on a Ryan Zimmerman home run, and the Phillies fans in the stands hurled hot dogs down on the field in disgust, almost hitting reliever Ryan Madson. The season turned around after that, of course, ending with Philadelphia as World Champions.
2018: A fan forgives the Phanatic for a black eye
Who could forget when the Phanatic nearly had to go to court after accidentally shooting a woman in the face with a hot dog wrapped in duct tape?
The mascot had been shooting frankfurters into the stands with its famed hot dog cannon for years, but in June of 2018, things went awry for the first time. One of the edible bullets landed directly on the face of Kathy McVay, a fan from Plymouth Meeting.
Despite a black eye, McVay had no interest in suing. “At least it’s funny,” she told NBC10.
Turns out there wasn’t even legal precedent to sue the Phillies and their “most-sued mascot in sports,” due to a similar incident in Kansas City. The Royals had been deemed free of wrongdoing after their mascot had done the same thing to a fan, so everyone, including the victim, was willing to put it behind them.
The Phillies did give McVay free tickets to a game — which is like inviting someone to go swimming after a shark attack, but she was apparently happy to go.
2023: A field full of franks on Dollar Dog Night
During last week’s punchless 8-4 Phillies loss to the Miami Marlins, one enterprising youngster was said to have collected thirteen wieners, and why not? It was Dollar Dog Night at Citizens Bank Park, a carnival of indulgence and a test of digestion.
As the crowd’s attention turned from Aaron Nola getting stuck in another bad inning to the kid with the slowly filling stomach in section 112 running low on supplies, they did what Philly always does for an underdog: they hurled their aggressive support on the field, one hastily thrown projectile at a time.
Dogs started flying in from all over the stadium, most contributors not even realizing why they were doing it, so blind is the charity of Philadelphians.
The 2023 season is young, and issues like Cristian Pache being used as a platoon partner with Brandon Marsh, the starting pitching missing the strike zone, and the endless baserunning goofs are already getting old.
But we’ve seen history, as well: The flying hot dog has evolved into a sign of support and camaraderie at Citizens Bank Park as we support each other’s gluttonous endeavors in the stands and security works out who exactly is being ejected. Baseball is back.