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Hardly a major-league meal

By STEVE POPE / Street Smart Fat Boy
Sec Taylor concessions bested by Little League.

Saturday was a great day for baseball and eating. It was 9:30 a.m., and the T-ballers were teeing up as Dad slipped off for a brat and a bag of peanuts. Aaah, life is good.

All around the Raccoon Valley Little League complex, balls are flying, and hearts are pounding as cheers echo from every direction. The concession stand is at the center of the storm, as always.

A chin rests on the counter in hopes of finding that perfect sugar concoction. A child's hunt for the perfect candy always amuses the Fatboy. It's all sugar! The only difference is the color of the package and how they shape or bend the sugar.

Not long after the first round of T-ballers, AAA'ers and major-league games have begun, the Senior League boys take the big diamond. A few catches, stolen bases and home runs later, it's time for another brat. Life is still good.

But as the day turns into night, baseball is still calling my name. This time it's the big-league wannabes at Sec Taylor Stadium, the home of the Iowa Cubs.

I called a couple of buddies, and soon we were standing at the gate. We weren't the only ones thinking baseball on a Saturday night, as three lines formed at the ticket windows. Following another friend's advice, we went for the $5 cheap seats and headed to the mezzanine level directly behind home plate to find a picnic table and a million-dollar breeze blowing in off the river.

The view was breathtaking, with the State Capitol looming just over the center field wall and a perfect view of the entire diamond right before our eyes. Nothing could be better. The Cubs had two stand-up doubles and a home run in the second inning.

Time to get some refreshments and a couple of ballpark dogs. What could be better than a jumbo dog and a cold refreshment or two at the old ball game? Almost anything, I quickly discovered. A cruel fate for a trio who live to eat. The dogs stunk, plain and simple. If I had it to do over, I would have gone to the edge of the balcony and tossed 10 bucks into the river. Would have been a better use for the money. Strike one!

Johnny thought it was the heat and that we should try again. Never ones to give up without a fight, we moved forward in our quest for something to eat.

After the trek down to the ground level for food (there weren't enough fans to open the stand on our level, I was told) and back up again, I was drenched in sweat. I felt like the Everest mountain climber from Iowa City after the first run for food, so I told Greg and Johnny someone else would have to scale the heights for round two. I was done.

Meanwhile, the game was heating up. A home run, a stand-up double, some guys driving a cart around the track shooting T-shirts into the crowd out of some kind of cannon thing. Great action on the field. If we could only get something decent to eat!

Johnny arrived back with two grinders, a chicken sandwich, a cheeseburger, two orders of fries and a cup of roasted peanuts. Greg rounded up some more refreshments: water, beer, Coke; we needed plenty of fluids to wash all this down.

Johnny and Greg split one grinder and the chicken sandwich. I ate the cheeseburger, some fries and the other grinder, belched once or twice, watched the game some more, then caught myself sitting down mumbling over and over, "I think I am going to be sick!" Strike two!

We never gave them a chance for strike three. I felt so bad the rest of the night that after every other batter I kept saying, "I think I am going to be sick." Johnny told me to shut up and watch the game. Greg grabbed another refreshment. I sat; I stood; I went to the car and sat in the AC for a while.

I couldn't believe how bad the food was. It made sense to me now why a long-time season-ticket holder told me about sneaking stuff into the ball park so he could get something decent to eat. No more food for the Fatboy, except peanuts. Pretty hard to screw up a bag of peanuts.

Not only was the food crummy, the beer not ice cold, and the Cokes flat, but prices were plenty stiff. We spent more than a hundred bucks Saturday night for a party of three. It seemed so pathetic.

We were watching outstanding talent playing a great game, we had a view worth 10 times the five bucks we paid for it; we were surrounded by great fans, and we sat in a beautiful stadium. One would think that a decent sandwich and an ice cold beer wouldn't be too much to ask for.

The folks in charge at Sec Taylor might want to turn the concessions over to any of the Little League parks around town. The little ones' game has a long way to go, but the volunteers cooking food at the Metro Area Little League parks score a shutout over the bigs serving dogs at Sec Taylor.

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