After two disappointing hot dog ventures to minor league ballparks, I finally get an infusion of hot dog enthusiasm by the way of the Greenville Drive. Even though this small South Carolina city host a mere single A team, they go major league when it comes to hot dogs.
You can get the typical fare on a bun: regular and chili cheese (also known as the Drive Dog), but proving that a little imagination can turn a simple concessions offering into a party for your palate, the Drive also offer the “Hot Dog of the Month.” The monthly lineup includes hot dogs named: bacon cheddar ranch, Chicago, smokehouse, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Hot Tot and the mac & cheese.
I was really up for tasting a Hot Tot dog that includes tater tots, but alas, it was Mac & Cheese month. I have had several mac & cheese dogs at numerous venues, and have even made some of my own. They are difficult to get just right. If the mac & cheese is too cheesy the topping is overly messy and never stays on the bun. Greenville gets it right. Their mac is just cheesy enough and the cheese is a not as moist, which means it does a better job than most at staying on the hot dog instead of ending up on your seat, shirt and surrounding fans. It was also quite tasty. Many times the mac & cheese can overpower the rest of the dog but the Greenville version is nearly perfect. All versions of their hot dogs used Carolina Pride franks.
The real lesson here is simple. The dog of the month is just their regular dog with some unique and fun toppings, and at $5.50 a fair bargain. That means other teams can offer at least a few exciting dogs to spice up their menu. Out of ideas? Toss on some Frank's hot sauce and jalapenos and call it a “flamethrower dog.” Baseball food does not have to be boring, and the Greenville Drive have figured that out.
The ballpark itself is a gem. It is a newish facility situated on the west end of downtown. Officially, it is called Fluor Field at the West End. But that is as annoying as someone who uses two surnames. Just call it Fluor Field and be done with it. Across the street is the home that Shoeless Joe Jackson passed away in, along with a museum in his honor. The cool part is is the Greenville version of Fenway Park's green monster in left field; complete with manual scoreboard. Fitting since the Drive are a Red Sox affiliate. If you are lucky, a Norfolk Southern train will cruise by the tracks just beyond the right field wall, blaring its horn much to the annoyance of the outfielders.
Greenville is a must see stop on any baseball road trip. It is $9 for the cheapest actual seat ($7 for the berm) and $5 to park. Arrive early and tour Greenville's picturesque downtown. Then, enjoy a dog of the month at Fluor Field. If you are fortunate enough to get a Hot Tot Dog, let me know how it is.