MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s no secret that it was a tough year for the Minnesota Twins. Despite some less than stellar games, fans at Target Field still found themselves cheering for someone who wasn’t on the baseball diamond.
In baseball, there are some sounds that just blend into the background. But on the second level of Target Field, one sound carries above the rest.
“I’ve got Schweigerts. Dugout Dogs. Dugout Dogs,” shouted Mike Vedder, a hot dog vendor.
“You just can’t miss his voice. It just resonates through the stadium,” said Sandy Dedmon, who heard Vedder’s voice for the first time during a Twins game.
Vedder is in his inaugural season as a hot dog vendor. His voice has become his sales pitch as he walks through the stands.
“I look at it like firing off a cannon. It’s that much fun to just explode out and say what you’ve got for sale,” said Vedder.
His voice attracts the fans, but it’s his attention to detail that keeps customers asking for more.
“You would not believe how many people appreciate you taking the time, writing the ‘Twins’ on [the hot dog],” said Vedder, as he prepared a hot dog for a customer.
“That’s part of the whole experience. That’s why you come to a game when both teams are in last place but you still enjoy it,” said Charlie Horning, who ordered a hot dog after hearing Vedder.
His insight into how to make a sale is his only tie to his former career. A part of the corporate world for 25 years, last November, his life changed.
“It was a terrible feeling laying on the table. The doctor came in and said ‘Mr. Vedder, you’re having a heart attack,'” he said. “I can remember at that point, just asking God for just one more chance.”
Heaven answered with an opportunity that also fulfilled his love of baseball. Vedder vowed to treat his body better with a new job at the Twins ballpark.
“Since then I got out of the corporate world, I’ve lost 80 pounds and I’ve had the time of my life selling hot dogs,” he said.
When Vedder started his gig, he knew it would change his health, but he did not expect the fan reaction.
“We have a nephew and this is his favorite guy here at the Twins stadium,” said Shade Correll.
“It kind of puts him on the map as our version of Wally the Beerman,” said Matt Palmer
“To be at the ball park and be in the seats with everyone else, that means a lot,” said Vedder.
For most Twins fans, 2011 will be a season to forget, but for Vedder it’s one he’ll always remember.
“It’s been a good ride,” he said.
It’s the year he discovered his true calling.
“I’ll be back next year and just build upon it,” said Vedder.
If you want to see Vedder in action, you don’t have much time. The Twins begin their final home series Monday night against the Royals at 7:10.