To see all of my posts from this May 2015 visit to the Quad Cities River Bandits (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my May 2015 trip through the Midwest, click HERE. To see ALL of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.
If you read the previous post in this series, then you know that the Quad Cities River Bandits game I (attempted to) attend at Modern Woodmen Park was rained out. But while rain stopped the ballgame, it didn’t stop my designated eater! (You know, the individual recruited to eat the ballpark cuisine that my gluten-free diet prohibits.)
At Modern Woodmen Park, that individual was Dean Birkhofer.
Dean, a retired math teacher, husband, father and Beatles fan, grew up in Wilton Junction, Iowa (“Junction” has since been dropped from the town name) and now lives in North Davenport. He was motivated to become a designated eater after receiving pressure from his daughter and son-in-law. (That son-in-law, Paul Worley, is a reader of this blog who contributed a “Why I Love” guest post this past February.)
Dean is a lifelong baseball fan, particularly of the Brooklyn-turned-Los Angeles Dodgers. So how did a kid from the Midwest come to like the Dodgers?
“I think I finally figured it out,” said Dean. “My Dad played softball. He threw right and played center field….I think I came to associate him with Duke Snider. [My Dodgers fandom] solidified when I was six. I made a bet with my uncle on the ’55 World Series, that I’d get a nickel if the Dodgers won. They won, and a couple weeks later I had to send him a letter. ‘A bet’s a bet.’ He sent me 27 cents, which was probably all the change in his pocket, and of course I changed that into 27 baseball cards.”
Fortunately for Dean and I, the River Bandits were willing to whip up a few special concession stand offerings despite the fact that the game had been called and the concession stands were closed.
We started with the “Pit Boss Burger” — an all-beef burger, cheddar cheese and in-house smoked BBQ pork.
Here’s Dean, sauce all over his face, enjoying this delicacy.
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) May 24, 2015
“Oh, it’s awesome,” he said. “Really good barbecue sauce. Tangy. It’s going to be on my list when I come back for a game next year.”
Dean then wiped his mouth with paper towels that he had brought from home. Dean was nothing if not prepared.
Dean was also prepared for the next item presented for his consumption: the Midwestern delicacy that is the pork tenderloin sandwich. Believe it or not, this thing is on a bun. It’s just that the bun is obscured by the meat.
Have at it, Dean.
But first, the sandwich needed to cool off a bit. Dean, once again displaying an admirable level of preparation, passed the time by asking baseball trivia questions. One such question went as follows:
Who was the first player to hit two pinch-hit home runs in the same World Series?
I’ll provide the answer at the end of this post.
As for the tenderloin, Dean said that he’s a big fan of this sandwich in general and the River Bandits’ iteration in particular. As for why he’s a fan, he had a bit of trouble articulating.
“There’s a taste. I don’t know how to describe it. Yeah, I don’t know,” said. Dean. “This one’s really good though.”
Good? Yes. But the River Bandits don’t make the area’s best, according to Dean. That honor goes to Tc’s Point After in Dewitt, Iowa.
Meanwhile, Dean complemented his sandwich consumption with a beverage housed in a collectible cup. Yep, it’s time for a #cupdate!
For those not in the “know,” the above mini-helmet depicts the logo of the awkwardly-named “Swing of the Quad Cities.” The franchise was known by this name — which referenced Bix Beiderbecke and the Quad Cities’ jazz legacy — from 2004-07. The River Bandits moniker, which had been in use from 1992-2003, was readopted in 2008 and the team hasn’t looked back since.
In fact, current River Bandits general manager Andrew Chesser was downright offended by Dean’s mini-helmet offering.
And that’ll do it for Dean and his Quad Cities River Bandits sandwich-eating experience. I’d like to express my thanks to both him and the team for being Designated Eating pioneers, as never before had the eating been done after the ballgame was postponed.
“It was awesome,” said Dean, when all was said and done. “I just wish there was baseball to go with it.”
Trivia Question Answer: The first player to hit two pinch-hit home runs in the same World Series was Chuck Essegian, who accomplished the feat in 1959 as a member of the
Brooklyn Los Angeles Dodgers.
Thanks for playing.