Did you ever think that being a vendor at a baseball game was easy and that you could do it? Well, it might not be as easy as you think. With no training or experience, Harry Hurt III went to Shea looking to sell some dogs, make some money, and take in a game. He joined the ranks of other part-time vendors that include teenagers, principals, accountants, bus drivers and retirees. What followed was an amusing lesson for Hurt (the article's accompanying video is also worth a watch).
In fact, bun-splitting proved to be only one of many unexpected challenges for me. Hot-dog vendors must balance their bins on the tops of their caps when they parade through the stands. My fully loaded bin weighed 40 pounds, but it felt heavier than Sisyphus’s rock. With each step, I feared that I was going to trip and fall, igniting a Sterno-fueled trial by fire in which I perished amid sizzling meat, flaming dough and melting plastic.
In just over 3 innings, Hurt only managed to hawk a little more than 1 bin of hot dogs. He lost $29.75 after accounting for the hot dogs he gave away. The best hot dog vendor at Shea managed to sell three bins in the same time as Hurt and 180 dogs on the day, earning $136 plus tips. Towards the end, Hurt said, "my arms and legs felt like rubber hot dogs."
Some interesting facts: the average Shea vendor sells 150 dogs a game and 10-12,000 a season; they work for comissions of 13-16% plus tip; and can make up to $30,000 a year; each bin of hot dogs weighs 40 pounds, has 30 hot dogs and buns, and Sterno to keep the dogs hot.
Almost lost in all the hot dog vending talk is the fact that Shea Stadium leads the Major Leagues in hot dogs consumed per year at over 1.5 million (Aramark estimated that over 22,000 would be eaten on opening day). Yankee Stadium isn't even in the top 10! Take that, Yankee fans! Yankee Stadium lore and 26 titles be damned, you don't love your mystery meat stuffed in casings.