Dipsology - Beyond the Basics: Some Hardball Foam-Sucking Details for Opening Day

Dipsology - Beyond the Basics: Some Hardball Foam-Sucking Details for Opening Day

As the baseball season opens, we look at which stadium may throw out the first drunk.

It is with relief that sports fans have seen a return to normalcy with their preferred league of choice in the somewhat-post-pandemic era. Even while the COVID scourge ebbed last season, the major sports still saw something of a truncated schedule and/or limitations placed on viewing. This year, though, has seen all the sports return to a full slate, and stadiums are once again full.

As the game once regarded as the National Pastime gets underway, the fans in the stands will be engaging in a number of traditions, and many of those involve in-game consumables. Hot dogs are a staple to such an extent that they have their own brand.  Peanuts are also a somewhat unique-to-the-game foodstuff (enshrined by song) and in the last generation, sunflower seeds became a game-specific item, turned to as a replacement for the tradition of chewing tobacco.

And frankly, the less said about ‘Cracker Jill’, the better, as that is just sad and pathetic.

One other item of import is maybe less canonized but far from ignored. No sport in this country can be properly enjoyed in person if there is not a beer in hand, and baseball is no different. Everything from lining up your dead soldiers on the roof of the dugout to the suds vendors traipsing the aisles are all standards to the baseball experience, and so it bears noting the beers at the stadium.

A Swig and a Mess

I’m not a baseball fan by any measure, but I have ventured to the newer ballpark for the Florida Marlins, and there are a few nice experiences there. The sightlines are such that you can see the field wherever on the concourse you are, beyond the wall they have immense sliding glass doors which can be opened when the weather is proper, and it features The Bobblehead Museum. This is an impressively large display of hundreds of figurines from around the league, and every few seconds, the entire display case shifts slightly to send the heads a-waggling.

The Marlins have a beer arrangement that is being seen in many ballparks, which involves a primary beer sponsor, but also room for local craft breweries. Budweiser has a prominent bar and signage over centerfield, seen on television. This is a revamped area, where they used to have the space over the leftfield fence. This former spot was a great vantage point as it had a wrap-around area where you could be seated right above the warning track. 

But also on site is local beer maker, Biscayne Brewing Company. This Miami brewer has a beer hall inside the stadium, as well as being the maker of what is becoming a fixture around Major League Baseball, the team’s own branded beer, Marlins Lager. This is a relatively new type of business arrangement when before, beer companies would want to have the exclusive rights, but in the micro-beer boom, many of the larger brewers have acquired regional brands as part of their distribution networks, so these partnerships are frequently in-house arrangements. 

The benefit for fans is a wider array of labels available for your nine innings duration. Additionally, many teams have embraced getting a local brewery to craft a logo beer. This is a development that got my mind wandering, curious about whether there is a way to see just who is imbibing the most in their box seats.

AP/Reuters Feed Library

Out To The Beer Game

It so happened there was, in fact, a recent survey done that measures which baseball team has fans with the highest beer consumption. It is a rather inexact but still revealing look at things, performed by a wagering website, New Jersey Online Gambling. Last year the site surveyed baseball fans from across the country to determine just who is drinking the most at the park, as well as some other related metrics. The results have some interesting details.

The Chicago White Sox came out on top, as only one of two teams where the fans average over four beers a game, with the Atlanta Braves placing second. We may need to get a deeper read on the polling methods, as the results show the team ranking at the bottom was the Philadelphia Phillies. And there was one other curiosity.

Resting towards the bottom is the St. Louis Cardinals, in the 26th position. This is also odd, given that not only is this the city home of the King of Beers — Budweiser — but the team had been owned by the Busch family. For them to rank so low has to be seen as something of a disappointment to local tradition.

This brings up a pretty amusing detail affiliated with the Cardinals and the family, while in possession. The Cardinals were purchased by the Busch family in the 1950s, playing in the old Sportsman’s Park stadium, and after renovations, the idea was to rename it Budweiser stadium. The commissioner of baseball, Ford Frick, shot down this idea, wary about beer having such a direct connotation to the game. 

Undeterred, the solution for owner Augustus Busch was to name the stadium after himself and then create the product. Therefore, following the rechristened Busch Stadium, the brewery released Busch Beer the following year. Frick also had to tolerate the iconic Anheuser-Busch Eagle logo perched prominently on the outfield scoreboard, with wings that would flap blatantly following any Cardinals home run.

The statue of famed Cubs broadcaster Harry Carey is seen outside Wrigley Field before Game 3 of the Major League Baseball World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

Turning back to Chicago, the second team on the Northside of town has its own rich beer tradition. Old Style is the label associated with the team for generations, but it has a fierce foe in Budweiser. This is because longtime Cubs announcer, Harry Carey was a known Bud Man, promoting and drinking it during broadcasts (a relationship that began as he was a Cardinals play-by-play voice). Carey a prolific imbiber, was known for frequenting establishments around town with such frequency he was dubbed “The Mayor of Rush Street,” a section of the Windy City choked with establishments. 

Years back, a “drinking diary” of Carey’s was discovered. This was apparently a record kept for tax purposes, and inside, it detailed many of the establishments and notable names he had sipped with back in 1972. It is voluminous and impressive. Carey also owned a string of restaurants in the Chicagoland area, and for the 30th anniversary of the first location to open, local brewer Burnt City Brewing made a commemorative brew. The tap handle is divine.  

And just to serve as some inspiration, let us commemorate something on our own — the one-year anniversary of the Chicago beer snake. Harry Carey would have been proud of his Cubbie faithful last season when then fans at Wrigley organically began to craft a growing stack of empty beer cups. This continued through the game and it grew to such impressive lengths that the TV broadcast could not ignore it. 

Experts attempted to tally up the production cost of the serpentine sippers and estimated the IPA asp could have cost nearly $30,000

Play ball everybody! Let’s drink two!

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