6-5-4-3: A road trip of hot dogs, hotels, and homers

Posted on Aug 6 2015 - 1:13pm by Max Babner

A few summers ago, I went on an amazing trip with my uncle and his best friend. With his number-crunching background, he decided that we would attempt to do 6 baseball games, in 5 days, across 4 cities, and with 3 crazy people.

They drove from the Boston area to Columbus to pick me up. The next day we traveled to our first destination, Chicago, in a torrential downpour. In Chicago, we saw two baseball games in the course of two days. The first game was at Wrigley Field, where the Red Sox were visiting the Chicago Cubs. I was surprised at how beautiful Wrigley Field was, with the famous bright green ivy lining the outfield wall. This game was also where I had the first of many hot dogs I tasted during the trip (in fact, I had a hot dog at every game). This was not one of the best hot dogs that I had, as it looked small and gray in the bun and lacked juiciness. The hot dog was as bad as the Cubs’ terrible record that season. We all felt like the trip was off to a great start since the Red Sox won. The next day, we were scheduled to see the Cubs face the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

The famous ivy at Wrigley Field, the first stop on the trip.  (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The famous ivy at Wrigley Field, the first stop on the trip.
(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

When we drove into the parking lot at U.S. Cellular Field, the lot was already filled with Cubs and White Sox fans alike. Some people were tailgating and the smells reminded me that I was going for my second hot dog. I had heard somewhere that Chicago was known for their “dogs.” Boy, was I right. This particular hot dog was made of Vienna Beef and filled the entire bun. I put very little ketchup on it so I could have an honest opinion. This was perhaps one of the best hot dogs on the trip.

After the White Sox night game, we traveled to Granger, Indiana to stay in a Red Roof Inn. We were wiped out due to the fact that we arrived around one in the morning. We woke up mid-morning, grabbed a quick pancake breakfast from the breakfast bar, then headed to Cleveland, Ohio. We were on the road again.

We arrived rather early for the game, so we took a side trip and visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where we all learned quite a lot about the history and origins of Rock and Roll. The traffic getting into the city was bumper to bumper, which almost made us late for the game, which was between the Indians and the Cincinnati Reds. Once again, I had the thrill of eating another hot dog. This one was not at the top of the list, but it was a close second. It was plump, juicy, and delicious even without ketchup. We had to leave the game early, since we needed to travel all the way to Hermitage, Pennsylvania to stay at another Red Roof Inn.

We woke up rather early the next day, as we had to arrive in the Bronx for an afternoon Yankees versus Braves contest. Since we woke up super early, we shopped at Whole Foods for our breakfast in the car. This is when I had to face my fears and eat a piece of fruit. This was far from my favorite breakfast, as my uncle forced me to eat an apple so I did not have to face the wrath of my grandmother for spending five days on the road eating only hot dogs and ice cream. The pain and distaste I had for the mushy apple grew larger with each bite. I ended up eating some of it and tried to take the taste out of my mouth with a few strawberry Nutri-Grain bars. We sat in the nosebleed seats for the game, but the view was not half-bad. The tiny hot dog, with very little meat (if you could even call it that), was definitely the worst of the trip. I witnessed history that night, as nine home runs were hit, tying a record for the most homers hit in a nine-inning game in Yankee Stadium. On top of that, the Yankees lost.

After that game, we had a short drive to Flushing, where we met my cousin and another one of my uncles at Citi Field for a night game between the Mets and  the Orioles. As you would imagine, I tested their hot dog to see where it ranked on my list. This hot dog was pretty mediocre and ended up ranking fourth out the six I had throughout the trip. The hot fudge sundae I had after made up for its lack of taste though. We did not have to travel far to sleep that night, as we stayed at a hotel in New York.

The next day, we got up and traveled east to Cape Cod to visit my grandparents and pick my grandfather up for the final game of the trip at Fenway, where the Red Sox were playing the Miami Marlins. This was not my first trip to Fenway Park, although it was very exciting to go on a tour of the park before the game and even stand on the field. While standing on the field, I was astonished at the sheer size of the Green Monster. I could not wait to taste the last of the ballpark franks. At this point, the tastes of hot dogs were running together, so it was difficult to decide where to place this one. Since this was a “Monster” dog, like the one in Cleveland, it ranked third on the list. And thankfully, the Red Sox won again.

Overall, this was a very special trip and one that I will remember for a very long time. Little did I know that one of the most memorable parts of the trip would be eating and rating a hot dog at each ballpark. I thought I would get sick from eating six hot dogs in five days, but I enjoyed every bite- even the bad ones. I was overjoyed that I finally got to sleep in a comfy bed at home after a week of sleeping on hotel cots.