Friday, April 8, 2016

VBT PNC Park: The Willie Stargell

PNC Park. My favorite. I don’t know how they did it but the folks in Pittsburgh captured everything that makes a baseball park the perfect place for a day’s entertainment. I have spoken with numerous other fans who have either been to all 30 MLB parks or most, and the majority of them also put PNC Park at the top of their list.

I grew up listening to the Pirates in the 1970s. One of the most prolific long ball hitters of the day was Willie Stargell. It was said that when he hit homers he didn’t just punish pitchers, he humiliated them. He holds the record for the longest homerun in numerous ballparks (most of which are now gone).

For a time, when he hit a homerun, customers in his chicken restaurant in the Hill District of Pittsburgh were treated to free chicken. It was called “Chicken on the Hill with Will.” Catchy no? And while he was lucky enough to be part of a talented Pirates team that won several championships during his tenure, he was also unfortunate enough to have to don one of baseball’s most gaudy uniforms when the Pirates switched to the mustard yellow and black threads. This is the only time in my childhood I felt fortunate to not have a color television.
To kick off the 2016 Virtual Baseball and Hot Dog Tour, I make my first stop at PNC Park and honor one of its most honored and accomplished Players: Wilver “Willie” Stargell. A Hall of Famer and one of the more accomplished sluggers of the 20th century.

The Willie Stargell
I used a soft hoagie bun with the ends cut off. Willie was never svelte, and became pretty hefty later in his career, the soft and fluffy bun is tribute to his unmistakable physique. For my first dog creation I used a chicken frank instead of beef to tie in his “chicken on the hill” gimmick for selling chicken. To force fans to remember those unsightly uniforms of the late 70s I used not one, but two types of mustard. It is topped off with black olives to complete the Pirates team colors of yellow and black.

While not extravagant or crazy, neither was Willie Stargell. He went out every day and did his job, and did it well. I think the hot dog that honors him will fill you up quite nicely as you lean back and take in a Buccos game. 

Beer Pairing: If you live in the Three Rivers area grab an Iron City beer to wash down the Willie Stargell. 

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