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15 Home-Run Facts About The Most Popular Ballpark Snacks

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An afternoon sitting behind home plate isn’t complete without a snack or three from the stadium concession stand. Even in baseball’s early days, mid-inning munchies were the norm, and while some snacks like tripe and onions have faded from popularity, these 15 ballpark eats are too classic to disappear.

1. HOT DOGS

Hot dogs are a baseball stadium staple, but they first became popular at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The “dachshund sausages” were served with bread, making them easy to eat, and within the same year hot dogs became available at baseball games. Legend has it that Chris Von de Ahe, a German immigrant and owner of the St. Louis Browns baseball team, introduced the sausages into the stands in St. Louis. As for the name, hot dog historians are split on where it came from. One story credits New York Journal sports cartoonist Tad Dorgan, who drew a scene of stadium vendors selling the snack in 1901. Unsure of how to spell dachshund, Dorgan simply wrote “hot dog” as the caption. Another tale says the name comes from college towns in the 1890s, where “dog wagons” peddled hot dogs to students.

2. NACHOS

Nachos didn’t appear in ballpark concession stands until 1976, where Frank Liberto sold them at a Texas Rangers game. “The Father of Nachos” revolutionized baseball game snacks by creating a cheese sauce that could be served quickly from a pump and on the cheap. Liberto’s condensed cheese formula only required water and leftover juice from jalapeño toppings; this mixture doubled the amount of cheese and profits. Liberto initially had a hard time getting his cheese-covered chips into stadiums since concession operators feared nachos would be too successful and detract from other snack foods. Their fears were valid—the first year of offering nachos at Arlington Stadium brought in $800,000, compared to $85,000 in popcorn sales.

3. BEER

Baseball is considered a family-friendly sport, but that wasn’t the case during the late 19th century. During the summer of 1883, St. Louis Browns owner Chris Von der Ahe created his own league called the American Association, which offered cheap baseball games with readily available beer. Edward Achorn, author of The Summer of Beer and Whiskey, says Von der Ahe’s Sunday games helped many immigrants and baseball newcomers enjoy the sport. But the ample beer made crowds a little rowdy. “Fans would drink heavily. They would scream at the umpires. They would go out onto the field after games if they were upset and try to attack him.”

4. PRETZELS

In true American fashion, any portable, handheld snack should be integrated into baseball culture, and large, sturdy pretzels were an obvious addition. Philadelphia lays claim to the first American soft pretzels, and considering the city’s hundreds of baseball clubs in the sport’s early days, it was inevitable that the street carts who sold these baked snacks to passersby would eventually end up selling them in the stadiums as well.

5. PEANUTS

Peanuts are perhaps the most classic baseball snack, and the reasoning dates back to the Civil War. During the early 1800s, peanuts were grown for livestock or oil, and considered a food only eaten by the poor. But during the long years of war, soldiers packed boiled peanuts as a cheap snack—they tasted better than hardtack and provided ample protein. After the war, street vendors peddled boiled peanuts, and roasted peanuts soon became a popular sporting game snack.

6. CRACKER JACK

Hot dogs weren’t the only baseball eats to star at the 1893 World’s Fair—Cracker Jack became popular there, too. The simple snack made from popcorn, peanuts, and molasses has become such a cultural icon that it can’t be replaced with similar brands. In 2004, Yankee Stadium made a failed attempt to replace Cracker Jack with Crunch 'N Munch. The switch only lasted a month.

7. COTTON CANDY

Sugary "fairy floss" (as it was first called at the 1904 World’s Fair) is a simple arena treat at baseball games, circuses, and carnivals. But in 2015, vendors at the Texas Rangers Globe Life Park stadium decided to mess with a good thing, and tried to merge two staple snacks: cotton candy and hot dogs. Their “Sweet Spot Cotton Candy Dog” creation is a hot dog topped with cotton candy-infused mustard and a clump of the airy sweet. Some reviewers said the $10 concoction was "surprisingly delicious."

8. BARBECUE

Not every stadium offers burnt ends and pulled pork, but many stadiums in well-known barbecue cities such as Kansas City and Memphis offer up grilled and seasoned plates. And while some former athletes launch businesses or franchises far from the dugout, former Orioles player and two-time World Series champion Boog Powell started his own barbecue joint inside Camden Yards.

9. SUNFLOWER SEEDS

In the early days of baseball, many players chewed tobacco in the dugout and on the field. But in 1968, baseball legend Reggie Jackson began chewing sunflower seeds, and though he wasn't the first player to do so, his popularity helped make the roasted achenes a top choice amongst fans. Many players and fans who enjoy spitting during the game made the switch from tobacco to sunflower seeds, though this ballpark snack comes with its own safety hazards. In 1995, the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society declared “Sunflower Seed Finger” a new ailment caused by athletes reaching into their pockets with three fingers to grab seeds, stressing the pinky finger.

10. POPCORN

Popcorn is a classic snack that isn’t going away anytime soon. At the 2015 All-Star Game, fans chowed down on an estimated 1,026,000 pounds of popcorn. And as a bonus, a stadium popcorn bucket can also act as a built-in mitt—game-goers have been known to catch foul balls in their buckets of popcorn (or their beer).

11. CORN DOGS

Corn dogs are a deep-fried twist on the classic ballpark hot dog. But if you’re looking to take it a step further, head to the Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Field where you can buy a $25 corn dog called The D-Bat Dog. This jumbo, batter-covered frank is 18 inches long (three times the size of a traditional corn dog), packs a whopping 832 calories without any toppings, and has the added novelty of resembling a baseball bat.

12. ICE CREAM

It's one of the better novelty items you can buy at the ballpark, and vendors have been dishing out soft serve in tiny novelty team helmets since around the early '70s. The Chicago White Sox stadium featured three-pound ice cream sundaes in oversized helmets in 2014, though the team’s marketing department encouraged fans to split the frosty treats.

13. PICKLES

Whether deep-fried or deep-brined, pickles have become a popular stadium snack. Beyond taking an inning or two to finish, pickles can help athletes (or overly exerted fans) recover from muscle cramps. But brined cucumbers also have another use—lending their name to baseball teams. The recently created Portland Pickles are a college summer league that received its name from an online poll.

14. COCA-COLA

Soda pairs perfectly with a hot dog or popcorn, and Coca-Cola even credits some of its success to baseball stadiums. During the late 1890s, Coca-Cola was only available from a soda fountain. Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead, two thirsty, frustrated fans, complained that they couldn’t enjoy a cold pop at baseball games, and they began bottling their own to take along. Realizing the potential, Thomas and Whitehead approached Coca-Cola and were granted rights to bottle and sell the cola nationwide. Now, not only is Coke a major concession stand seller, its logo and name are highly visible advertisements at stadiums across the country.

15. BUBBLE GUM

Like sunflower seeds, bubble gum is a baseball snack that started in the dugout before becoming popular in the stands. One of the most popular brands, Big League Chew, was started by Portland Mavericks pitchers Rob Nelson and Jim Bouton who both thought chewing tobacco was an unhealthy habit. Together, the pitchers spent two years trying to get the shredded chewing gum off the ground. The idea eventually caught on, and even tobacco-chewing players were urged to switch to gum by girlfriends and wives. Since there’s a lot of standing around and waiting in baseball, having a slightly healthier chew habit wasn’t such a bad idea.

All photos via iStock unless labeled otherwise.

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15 Things You Might Not Know About The Sandlot
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

What, you haven’t seen The Sandlot? You’re killing me, Smalls.

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Roger Ebert got it right: The Sandlot is like the summer version of A Christmas Story. They’re not penned by the same screenwriter and they don’t share a director or even actors, but both make you feel nostalgic for a childhood you probably didn’t even have.

No matter how many times you’ve watched Squints execute his plan to get to first base with Wendy Peffercorn, there’s bound to be something you don’t know about this modern classic. On the 25th anniversary of the movie's release, here are 15 of our favorite The Sandlot secrets.

1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY CALLED THE BOYS OF SUMMER.

Originally called The Boys of Summer, the film's name had to be changed because there was already a famous baseball book by the same title.

2. IT WAS PARTLY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL.

The movie was inspired in part by a childhood experience co-writer/director David Mickey Evans’s brother had. Some older boys wouldn’t let Evans play baseball with him. When they lost a ball over a brick wall, he thought he could get on their good side by retrieving it for them. When he hopped the wall, however, he found a giant dog named Hercules waiting for him—and he was bitten.

3. IT WAS A QUICK SHOOT.

It was shot in just 42 days.

4. THE KIDS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE MUCH YOUNGER.

Casting directors originally wanted the kids to be 9 to 10 years old, but as they began casting, "it became obvious real fast the kids were much too young," Evans told Sports Illustrated. "So I said, 'We've got to make them 12 or 13.' We knew it was the right decision instantly, because the first kid that we interviewed was Mike Vitar [who played Benny Rodriguez]."

5. THE GIANT OAK TREE THAT HOLDS THE TREEHOUSE WAS SALVAGED.

The cast of 'The Sandlot' (1993)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The production crew had been agonizing over how they were going to pull off a tree that size—"We were looking at having to buy an oak tree, and a specimen that big, if you can even find one, is hundreds of thousands of dollars," Evans told Sports Illustrated—when they happened to notice one being chopped down not far from the production offices. The 100-year-old oak was interfering with the foundation of the house it was planted next to. The man removing it agreed to give it to the crew, and Salt Lake City’s utility companies took down power and telephone lines on certain streets so the tree could be hauled safely to the empty lot where filming was taking place. It was cemented into the ground there and became an iconic part of the movie.

6. YEAH-YEAH ORIGINALLY READ FOR BERTRAM.

Marty York, the actor who played Alan “Yeah-Yeah” McClennan, originally read for Bertram. Not only did York not get the Bertram role, he wasn’t the first choice for Yeah-Yeah, either. The kid cast for Yeah-Yeah got sick just as the movie was scheduled to start filming, and York replaced him.

7. THE CHEWING TOBACCO WAS MADE OF LICORICE AND BACON BITS.

The chewing tobacco from the carnival scene was really made out of licorice and bacon bits—and that, the actors later said, combined with riding the carnival rides for so many takes, made them as sick as their fictional counterparts got. (The vomit from that scene, by the way, was a mixture of split pea soup, baked beans, oatmeal, water, and gelatin.)

8. IT WAS DANGEROUSLY HOT.

It was so hot during the daytime shoots—upwards of 110 degrees—that the actor who played Scotty Smalls, Tom Guiry, got weak from running around in the heat and fell into one of the cameramen.

9. IT WAS ALSO REALLY COLD.

On the other hand, the famous pool scene was actually freezing. The day was overcast and the water was just 56 degrees. Evans says you can actually see Squints’s teeth chattering while he’s staring longingly at Wendy Peffercorn from the pool.

10. SQUINTS WAS GIVEN A STERN REMINDER.

Speaking of the Squints scam: Evans had to give actor Chauncey Leopardi a stern reminder before the scene was shot: “You keep your tongue in your mouth, you understand?”

11. WENDY PEFFERCORN WAS BASED ON A GIRL NAMED BUNNY.

Wendy was partly based on a girl Evans remembers from his childhood—a lifeguard in a red bathing suit named Bunny.

12. THE KIDS WERE EXCITED TO MEET DARTH VADER.

The kids were super impressed that Darth Vader was on set—James Earl Jones, of course, played junkyard owner Mr. Mertle. (They were almost as taken with Marley Shelton, who played Wendy.)

13. THE CAST SNUCK INTO A SCREENING OF BASIC INSTINCT.

When the young cast wasn’t acting, they were getting into the kind of shenanigans that their Sandlot alter egos surely would have been proud of—they snuck in to see Basic Instinct.

14. THE BEAST WAS PARTLY PUPPET.

The Beast—a.k.a. Hercules, an English Mastiff—was played, in part, by a puppet. It took two people to operate. If you don’t mind ruining the movie magic, you can see the behind-the-scenes photos on Evans’s blog.

Some scenes with the Beast called for a real dog (two, actually). When Smalls and Hercules make friends at the end, they got the dog to lick his face by smearing baby food on one half of Tom Guiry’s face. "That scene where I’m looking to the side, the other half of me is just slathered in this baby goo. That dog had a field day on my face," Guiry told Time. "I’m a dog-lover though, so it didn’t really bother me.”

15. THE MOVIE WAS AT THE CENTER OF A MAJOR LAWSUIT.

The Sandlot was at the center of a lawsuit that eventually had a major impact on Hollywood. A man named Michael Polydoros sued 20th Century Fox, claiming that his former classmate, David Mickey Evans, had based the character of Michael “Squints” Palledorous on him, and that it caused him embarrassment and humiliation. A judge decided that there wasn’t enough similarity to justify the lawsuit, meaning that movie studios could continue using characters inspired in part by real-life people.

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10 of the Most Valuable Baseball Cards in the World
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If baseball is America’s national pastime, then collecting baseball cards is a close second. Closets, crawl spaces, and attics across the country are full of cards from every era—from the days of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams to Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. But not all of them are going to pay off your student loans or put you in a new house.

Baseball card values depend on many factors, like age, condition, scarcity, and the collectible market trends at the time. With all that in mind, we're taking a look at 10 of the most valuable baseball cards in the world.

1. HONUS WAGNER, 1909-1911 ATC T206 // $3.12 MILLION

If you know anything about baseball cards, it won't come as a shock that this Honus Wagner card sold for a staggering $3.12 million in 2016, besting its previous high of $2.8 million from 2007. Widely considered to be the "Holy Grail" of baseball collectibles, the card's value is forever tied to its backstory. It was originally produced by the American Tobacco Company and was included in packs of the company's cigarettes. But, for reasons that still aren't completely clear, Wagner made the company pull the card from the market, resulting in anywhere from only 25 to 200 ever being released—and more than 100 years later, the scarcity has made it a landmark in sports collectibles.

2. MICKEY MANTLE, 1952 TOPPS // $1.13 MILLION

Joining Wagner in the more-than-a-million-dollars card club is none other than Mickey Mantle. More specifically, it's his 1952 Topps Major League card that went for $1.13 million at auction in 2016. Its Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) grade, which scores a card's condition, is an astounding 8.5 out of 10, making it one of the most attractive Mantle cards out there. But even copies with lower scores have gone for significant amounts, with grades of 6 and 7 regularly going for more than $100,000. But in a few weeks this list might need updating—another 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is up for auction in April, this time with a PSA grade of 9. Its pre-auction estimate is a mighty $3.5 million-plus.

3. BABE RUTH, 1916 SPORTING NEWS // $717,000

Babe Ruth’s Sporting News card from 1916 (his pre-Yankee days) sold for $717,000 in a 2016 auction. It was far from the only auction that featured this card of a young Bambino, though. In 2017, the same card with the same PSA grade fetched around $550,000. It's just another example of how selling at the right time and finding the right buyer can make a six-figure difference.

4. PETE ROSE/PEDRO GONZALEZ/KEN MCMULLEN/AL WEIS, 1963 TOPPS // $717,000

So how did a card like this wind up taking $717,000 at auction? It's not nearly as old as a Ruth card, yet it went for just as much money. Well, for one, it features Pete Rose on it, and anything with "The Hit King" is going to get some interest. Another reason is that it was graded a perfect 10 by the PSA, which is exceedingly rare for any card of its age. It's the only copy of this particular card ever to get that rating, and for collectors, that's a big deal. This one won't fetch nearly as much in any other condition, though, as a 9 grade might get around $70,000 at auction.

5. "SHOELESS" JOE JACKSON, 1909 AMERICAN CARAMEL // $667,149

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson was the most high-profile baseball name to be linked to the notorious Black Sox Scandal, but that hasn't hurt his worth on the collectible market. In 2016, a PSA grade 8 copy of what's considered to be Jackson's rookie card sold at auction for $667,149. In 2008, the same card with a lower grade went for $86,975, so it just goes to show that a card's condition can make all the difference.

6. NOLAN RYAN/JERRY KOOSMAN, 1968 TOPPS // $612,359

Like the Rose rookie card, this Nolan Ryan/Jerry Koosman combo piece was rated a perfect 10 and was rewarded with $612,359 at auction, far higher than it would have been otherwise. In fact, of the 8000 Ryan/Koosman rookie cards that have been submitted, it's the only one to receive a perfect score. And that pristine condition is exactly why it commanded that price—when you put a 9 grade on the same card, for example, its value goes down to around $20,000 to $30,000.

7. BABE RUTH, 1914 BALTIMORE NEWS // $575,000

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Babe wound up on this list twice. This time, the Sultan of Swat is seen as a minor league pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, well before his home run prowess was realized. In 2012, Robert Edwards Auctions sold a PSA 2 graded copy of the card for an impressive $575,000. And if you want a rare card, this is it: It's generally agreed upon that there are only around 10 in existence.

8. WILLIE MAYS, 1952 TOPPS // $478,000

In 2016, Heritage Auctions held a Sports Collectibles Auction that over three days sold $11 million of memorabilia. The single most valuable item sold was a $478,000 Willie Mays card. While not his rookie card, it was the first Topps card to feature the legendary centerfielder.

9. ROBERTO CLEMENTE, 1955 TOPPS // $478,000

All-time great Roberto Clemente, a member of the 3000-hit club and the Baseball Hall of Fame, died tragically in a plane crash en route to Nicaragua to contribute to earthquake relief in 1972. In 2012, his 1955 rookie card—graded a rare 10 by PSA—sold for $432,690. But four years later (showing that timing can be more important than grade), a 1955 Roberto Clemente card that was graded a 9 sold for $478,000 (however, the same card with a PSA grade of 8 is worth around $30,000). An interesting note about the 2012 sale is that the card was owned by former big leaguer Dmitri Young, who auctioned a large portion of his impressive collection in 2012 for $2.4 million.

10. JOE DOYLE, N.Y. NAT'L, 1909-1911 ATC T206 // $414,750

“Slow Joe” Doyle might not be the most famous player on this list, but he has one of the most notorious cards on the market. First off, this particular card is over 100 years old, so there are reported to be less than a dozen in circulation. But most importantly, there was a printing error on the card, listing Doyle as playing for New York's National League team, rather than the correct American League team (he was a member of the New York Highlanders, which would eventually become the Yankees; it’s thought the confusion was due to Larry Doyle being on New York’s National League team). The error was quickly fixed, so a majority of them hit the market with the correct wording. The card has come to auction only a few times in recent years, bringing in anywhere from $64,099 to a staggering $414,750. Not bad for a pitcher with a career record of 22-21.

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