by Gordy Jones
One of my favorite days at Target Field is the annual food tasting for the media. Scribes of all shapes and (ahem) sizes show up to try the new items offered by Target Field vendors. Every year, I am eager to see what will be new, and what will be my favorite item. Some of my favorites from the past have been Izzy’s Ice Cream, Red Cow burgers, Hrbek’s Bloody Mary with a burger on top, and the Margaritas from Barrio.
This year I started the day off with a delicious Bloody Mary, but this one is topped with a Polish sausage and Italian sausage from Kramarczuk’s, along with the regular pickles, celery, olives, peppers, and other bloody seasonings and garnishments. Although the consistency of the drink was a little thick for me, it was still very good. But I’d probably say that about any cocktail.
My new number-one food item at the ballpark was definitely the Murray’s Smoked Beef Sandwich ($14.50). It was sliced perfectly, not too thin and not too thick, it was very tender, and it nearly melted in my mouth. It was served on a bakery-fresh bun. It is far superior to the steak sandwich which has been offered at Murray’s for the last several years. Their steak sandwich is just…all right. This new smoked beef sandwich will make you want to return to Target Field the very next opportunity you get, just to have another. It’s terrific.
I was doing this food cruise with my longtime friend and former colleague Charley Walters, former Twins pitcher and columnist at the Pioneer Press. He loved this sandwich even more than I did. I think I counted him going back at least four or five times to get another. But in all fairness, so that we could try most of the new food items, the vendors had the sandwiches portioned out into thirds. And Charley also explained to me that he doesn’t go for a lot of the ethnic foods, and was planning on skipping many vendors as he gulped down another Smoked Beef Sandwich.
The Herbivorous Butcher, at Section 129, now offers a Vegan Sriracha Brat and a Vegan Italian Sausage. Obviously, Walters tried neither.
I didn’t try Hot Indian Foods’ Indi Salad with Chicken Tikka or Vegan Aloo Gobi, both $12.50, but folks were raving about it. But the food that Rookie and Chris Reuvers, from Joe Soucheray’s “Garage Logic” Show on 1500 ESPN, seemed to enjoy, was the Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen Sloppy Ko ($14.50) — and when Rookie likes something, he is not shy about it. I remember a few years ago, there was a new burger at the park. The vendor was cutting them up into quarters to accommodate the large crowd, but had an entire one on display. Well, you can guess what happened: Rookie ate the display burger.
After Charley and I grazed on the new ballpark food for more than an hour, we relaxed with some Izzy’s Ice Cream. I really go for the salted caramel. I also tried Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen Frozen White Chocolate Mousse, which was pretty good, too. It was just what it says it is, but also had a caramel, crusty bottom. It was good, but not $7.50 good.
When you go to the ballpark, bring some money. You can find an international array of foods. The only thing that is hard to find, although I know they sell them, are the hot dogs!
I usually abide by the players’ wishes regarding what they don’t want written about. Most of it is personal things, or a sore subject — or many times, with our humble Minnesota Twins, a good deed that has gone unseen. Many times they just want to do it and ask that I don’t shine a light on it. Being a family friend of the Mauers, I have caught wind of many incredible things Joe has done for others, but asked that I keep them private. Most of the Twins feel this way, including Brian Dozier. But I must tell you about how a simple action of his affected a little boy’s life.
While I was at spring training, I heard from a former colleague who was distressed about a serious operation her 11-year-old son was about to undergo. She said her boy’s favorite player was Brian Dozier, and they had even met twice — once at the ballpark and once at the hospital.
Later, that same day, I was talking with Brian during some down-time at training camp. I told him what the boy’s mom had said, and how stressed she was. Brian told me to see him after lunch.
Before I saw him in the afternoon, I ran into the Twins’ media guy, Mike Kennedy. He handed me a hand-written letter to the boy, and he said that Brian had asked him to give this to me. It was a beautifully written letter to the boy, stating that Brian and his teammates would be thinking and praying for him the day of his surgery. And it went on to say that when the boy recovers, he and his family are invited to be Brian’s guests at Target Field, and that they’d be on the field for batting practice.
I rushed off to the FedEx store, as the surgery was the following day. It got there in the nick of time, and before they put the boy under, Mom said: “You’ve got some mail.” They opened it, read it together, and cried. The surgery was successful, the family will go to the game, and we have some pretty special guys to root for this season!