To see all my posts from my May 6 visit to the Greensboro Grasshoppers, click HERE. To see all of my posts from my May 2016 Carolinas Road Trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts, click HERE. If interested in seeing posts covering a visit to a particular team, search for that team’s name in the blog search bar (it’s to your right).
My regular readers are by now well aware of the “designated eater” concept, but since this is the first such post of the year allow me to provide a brief review:
During the 2012 season I was diagnosed with celiac disease, meaning that I had to adopt a gluten-free diet. “Gluten-free” and “ballpark food” have a minimal Venn diagram overlap, which led to a conundrum for me. How could I continue to make stadium cuisine a part of my coverage while I myself could no longer eat most of it? The answer to this query came from on high, entering my brain space as an idea fully formed.
At each ballpark I visit, I would recruit a fan to consume the concession specialties that my diet now prohibited. This initiative started in earnest during the 2013 season, and as of this writing more than 60 individuals have bravely served in the designated eater role. In Greensboro, home of the Grasshoppers, that man was Alan Hand.
In the below picture, you can say Aloha to Mr. Hand on the left. On the right is his good friend Ronnie Higdon.
Alan and his family — wife Kristina and daughter Elliott Rose (named after Pete) — moved from Oregon to Mooresville, North Carolina in 2002. Alan and Ron became friends as a result of their respective daughters becoming friends. The two men soon found they had a mutual passion for Minor League Baseball exploration, and estimate that they attend 30 games together each season. Alan reports that he has visited 67 ballparks, while Ron puts the number at “a bunch.” Included in this bunch is the South Atlantic League in its entirety, an excursion he underwent as a sort of 50th birthday present to himself. While not pursuing their Minor League Baseball road trip urges, Ron works as a theater teacher in Mooresville while Alan is a behavior specialist in the Rowan County school system.
“I was sitting in an IEP [individualized education program] meeting and there was a lull, and I saw your post about needing a designated eater in Greensboro,” said Alan. “‘Dude, I am so doing that!'”
So here we are. Our first stop was the Grasshoppers’ “Cheeseboro” cart, which features an array of grilled cheese sandwiches.
The above photo doesn’t really convey just how unique this concoction was (at least by ballpark food standards). The “sweet” came in the form of strawberry marzipan brie and cinnamon, with the “salty” component delivered via prosciutto and Old Bay seasoning.
Have at it, Alan.
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) May 6, 2016
Alan said that the sweetness of the cheese had a “rich, melty taste that took the edge off of the salt.”
“The cheese is melted right into [the prosciutto], it meshes well and has a nice finish,” he continued. “That’s the thing here [at Grasshoppers games]. These guys really know what they’re doing.”
After the grilled cheese, we headed over to a cart situated on the third base side of the concourse. There, a man obscured by beer cans could be found in the act of grilling sausage and its various accoutrements.
With sausage procured and picture taken, there was nothing left for Hand to do but transfer to mouth.
“Oh, this is good,” said Alan. “You can really taste the pork. It’s got a good snap to it. The grilled veggies are awesome, caramelized with a little bit of sweetness. The bun is nice and soggy from soaking up all the juices. Good. This is so good. I would definitely get it again.”
A ringing endorsement, to be sure, and that just about did it for the designated eater portion of the evening. Alan and Ron soon went back to their spouses in the stands, noting that their attendance at this Grasshoppers game once again earned them “wife points” and that “we realize how lucky we are.”
Back home, Alan presumably enjoyed a nightcap in his idyllic screened porch. He later sent this photo along because, if you look closely enough, you can see that the porch is illuminated by lights placed within collectible Minor League cups. Fellow #cupdate aficionados, take note.
Let’s also hope that Alan remembered to feed his dog, Bailey. The needs of a 2010 Kannapolis Intimidators “Bark in the Park” award winner should never go unmet.