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Checking In with the One and Only Hal the Hot Dog Guy

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Almost exactly one year ago, I published a long interview with A’s vendor Hal the Hot Dog Guy. It was a very popular entry, and is probably my favorite Uni Watch post ever, mainly because Hal’s energy, joy, and playful humor are all so infectious. He’s a true people person, and you can tell that everyone who encounters him comes away feeling a little better about themselves and about the world.

With the baseball season on hold, Hal and his fellow vendors and other gameday employees are out of work. For many of them, working at the ballpark is their primary livelihood, so Hal has taken it upon himself to create a GoFundMe campaign for them. If you donate, you get one of his personal trading cards (or more than one, depending on how much you donate):

You can see additional views of Hal’s cards, including the back sides, here.

The best part about this fundraiser (well, aside from how it’s just another example of what a big heart Hal has) is that Hal’s been promoting it via a series of hilarious videos shot in his backyard, which really capture his irresistible charisma. Check this out:

How awesome is that? It’s so good, I don’t even mind that he didn’t put capers on the hot dog!

In addition, Hal now has a fun line of T-shirts, stickers, coffee mugs, hoodies, and more that’s he’s selling on Teespring, with 50% of his profits going toward the fundraiser. Here are a few of the items:

That “Gimme an A!” design is based on one of Hal’s signature ballpark chants, which he and his wife recently recreated in the backyard:

And in case you’re wondering about that A’s-style “A,” Hal says, “I emailed the A’s twice to let them know I was going to rip off their logo and told them I could alter it if there was a problem, and they specifically didn’t respond to that (they responded to other parts of the email), so I assume that was a wink and a nod, saying it was fine.”

Again, Hal’s GoFundMe is here, and his Teespring shop is here.

Why am I promoting all of this? Because interacting with Hal always reminds me that I can be a better person, a more joyful person, a more generous-spirited person. It may seem odd that I’d take that form of enlightenment from a hot dog vendor, but hey, inspiration is where you find it, right? I mean, even his new “Hal’s My Pal” slogan is about how friendly he is!

Basically, Hal is who I hope I can be when I grow up — even though he’s more than 20 years younger than I am. He and his fellow gameday workers make all of our lives better, and they’re hurting right now, so please consider supporting them. Thanks.

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A nice gesture: Yesterday was National Nurses Day, so athletes across the sports posted photos and videos of themselves holding their own jerseys, but with their NOBs replaced by the names of frontline healthcare workers. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner took things a step further by wearing a cap with a social distanced version of the team’s logo (hadn’t seen that one before!), plus he included his signature pine tar smudge across the cover-up NOB — nice.

Lots of photos and videos were tweeted yesterday with the hashtag #TheRealHeroes. More info here.

(My thanks to Rob Granados for the Turner photo.)

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This and that: Some notes and reminders:

• It’s fun to play around with food-themed sports insignia, no? If you agree, let’s discuss.

• We have about 60 remaining pins for the Uni Watch Pin Club’s May design, featuring a super-cool auto racing theme. Numbered edition of 250 — when they’re gone, they’re gone. Get yours here.

• You can save 15% on that pin, and on everything else in the Uni Watch Shop and the Naming Wrongs Shop, but using the checkout code COMMUNITY.

• If you have a very small or very large head, I still have Uni Watch caps in sizes 7 and 7-7/8, at the pandemic-friendly price of only $35.99. (Our factory has been shut down, but I’m told we should have all other fitted sizes and adjustables back in stock by mid-June-ish.)

• Until further notice, you can get a custom-designed Uni Watch membership card for only $20 — down from our usual price of $25.

• You can see more fine Uni Watch products here.

Want to support Uni Watch via a donation instead of a merch purch? Here’s how you can do that.

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Membership update: When I receive a new batch of membership card designs from designer Scott M.X. Turner, I review the designs and make sure everything matches up with what the enrollees requested. When I got to Eric Stroker’s card, I thought something was off — Eric wanted his card to be based on the Red Sox’s navy alternate jerseys, and that “44” definitely didn’t look like the team’s distinctive McAuliffe font. But as I quickly discovered, the “4” in that font isn’t as distinctive as most of the other numerals, which I somehow hadn’t realized until now. Just another way that the membership project continues to teach me things!

Eric’s card is one of several that have been added to the membership card gallery, as Scott and I continue to work our way through the recent spike in orders (thank you!).

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, as a gesture of comm-uni-ty solidarity, the price of a membership has been reduced from $25 to $20 until further notice.

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 2,600 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: If you can try to ignore whatever your political leanings happen to be and just focus on the story, this article on whether Donald Trump was a actually a pro baseball prospect, as he has claimed, is a fascinating piece of investigative journalism. Recommended reading. … MLB is now selling team-branded face masks (from Jason Ricles). … Here’s a nice photo gallery of Oklahoma State’s new stadium, which is set to open whenever college baseball comes back (from Kary Klismet). … Boooo! Yesterday the Mets’ official Twitter account endorsed 1B Pete Alonso’s informal campaign to bring back the BFBS uniforms — and used the wrong NOB and number fonts to boot (from Shannon Shark).

Football News News: Here are the uni number assignments for the Jags’ rookies. … Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has a field at his home property emblazoned with his own personal logo (from Boden Pollack). … Toledo was supposed to get a new arena league team in 2010, but the league it was supposed to be a part of ended up folding before that could happen. Now the uniforms that the Toledo squad would have worn have finally been unveiled — a decade after the fact (from Tom Konecny). … Penn State’s student newspaper has ranked the school’s football uniforms (from William Yurasko).

Hockey News: With the whole “murder hornets” thing trending, I guess it was only a matter of time before someone jokingly suggested that the NHL’s new Seattle franchise would be named after them (from @vancealot29). … Whoa, check out this early-1980s Winnipeg Jets cookbook! Scroll down to see some of the interior pages (from @John Przebieglec). … Interesting video of Mark Messier on the night he became the Rangers’ captain, with the captain’s “C” positioned rather awkwardly alongside the NHL 75th-anniversary logo patch. … Speaking of Messier, check out the “big apple” logo on the sleeve of his practice jersey. I don’t recall seeing that one before, and it’s not shown on’s Rangers page (good one from Pat Craven).

NBA News: A judge has ruled against Clippers G/F Kawhi Leonard, who had claimed that Nike stole his “Klaw” logo. … Having already ranked jerseys, ESPN has now ranked the 74 best and 10 worst sneakers in NBA history (from Nicklaus Wallmeyer). … In Game One of the 1993 NBA Finals, Suns G Danny Ainge wore a DIY memorial for Drazen Petrovich. … The Raptors’ players depicted as Animal Crossing characters? Sure, why not (from Andreas Papadopoulos). … Here’s a depiction of an NBA-style game featuring The Office vs. Friends (from @DJinLOU). … Here’s an amusing look at what we might see if the NBA took over Disney World (from Danny Pedroza). … This 1985 letter on Bulls stationery shows a 20th-season logo that I don’t think I’ve seen before. It’s not shown in’s rundown of Bulls logos, either (good spot by Chris Schwartz).

College Hoops News: Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing says his Olympic gold medals and NCAA championship ring have been stolen. … UMass is getting black alternate uniforms (from Shane Bua).

Soccer News: Tottenham Hotspur winger Son Heung-Min has been going through compulsory military training back home in South Korea. Photos released yesterday showed him in his military uniform (from Asa Domolky). … New away kit for Brazilian side Flamengo. … The rock band Iron Maiden has a new line of soccer shirts patterned after their album covers.

Grab Bag: Stalwart Ticker contributor Kary Klismet has created, with my blessing, a Facebook group for Colorado-area Uni Watch fans. “We’re planning on using the group to stay in touch with other area uni-watchers and to provide a forum for information about get-togethers and other events in the future. We’re working on some ideas for online events during our current age of social distancing, and will use the group to provide details about those. The group is private, so prospective members will have to ask to join, but that’s just to cut down on bots, trolls, and so on.” … NASCAR crews will be allowed to sell ads on their face masks when racing resumes later this month (from Chris Hickey). … UC Santa Cruz, whose teams are called the Banana Slugs (yes, really), is holding a vote for a new logo. … Newly installed Chicago police superintendent David Brown plans to undergo the necessary training so he can wear a CPD uniform. … New logo for HP’s Omen brand. … New athletics logos for North Union High School in Marysville, Ohio (from the indefatigable Kary Klismet). … A graphic designer who worked on a previous logo for the Mormon church has assessed the church’s new logo.

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What Paul did last night: Another grey, chilly evening yesterday — 48º and drizzling. Usually we talk about interesting things we read that day, or about the songs that are stuck in our heads and how they got stuck there, or about our families, or whatever. But yesterday, for about 45 minutes, we talked about utilitarianism, and the pros and cons of how it pertains to the pandemic.

Yes, that’s right. Utilitarianism. Forty-five minutes.

Bud Copper for me, seltzer for the Tugboat Captain (she had an evening class to attend after our porch session). We saw one very adorable dog hitching a ride in its person’s shoulder bag, but I’ve already forgotten its name and didn’t get a photo — sorry.

Oh, and the branch is still there.

As always, you can see the full set of Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos here.

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Our latest raffle winner is Rob Leavell, who’s won an item of his choice from the Vintage Brand website. Congrats to him, and my continued thanks to VB for running these raffles each month. — Paul

Comments (59)

    The Hal feature you did really was one of the best on this site. Kudos to both you and Hal. It really captures the sort of sport adjacent human interest stuff that can be so enjoyable. Checking back in on him was really helpful to me this morning. As NJ was just informed of another 30 days of lockdown. As an introvert and somewhat stoic I am less affected by social distancing than an average person, but knowing it will be at minimum another month before there is anything close to normal, and even worse the dread I feel for my community and how it is going to be hit by the disruption of the summer tourism season which so many people count on for their livelihood. It was a depressing feeling much of yesterday afternoon after that announcement. But reading this followup, thinking about going to the ballpark, eating a hot dog and watching baseball when the weather is just right. Those times will return, and Hal’s general positive vibe certainly is contagious. This definitely lifted my spirits. Also I absolutely love that sticker and it will be a nice compliment to the stickers on breweries and random stuff on my kegerator and beer fridge.

    As an ambivert, I also felt like I would be less affected, but ended up bumping into (at a distance) a buddy and we ended up talking for close to 2 hours.

    I mentioned to him that I don’t usually like most people so this hasn’t been too hard on me. Then I realized the that I’m losing touch with the people I do like and there aren’t that many of them, so each one is worth more to me.

    All that to say….This site (and the people who run it, post to it, and are typically featured on it) are all people I like. It’s been helping me quite a bit and today’s story on Hal was no different.

    Sticker will be purchased in a few minutes.

    Does the Iron Maiden item in the ticker belong n the soccer section? Instead of the NBA?

    I find it so fascinating your porch conversation lined up with the one my wife and I had on our walk last night. She is currently 27 weeks pregnant and in healthcare, so that’s changed her opinion on some things related to the topic, but I brought it up because of a conversation on CNBC regarding how to best handle the “reopening”. I must say Uni-Watch has always been a must read for me, but your Porch entries have quickly become a highlight and something I look forward to each day while I’m stuck at home. Hopefully all continues to be well for you and your loved ones.

    I flipped through the 51 Pandemic Porch Cocktails pictures. Interesting to see that vehicles stay in one place for extended period and how reluctantly Spring has come, in turns of things greening up. Not to be paranoid, but I would find a white van parked on the opposite side of the road (current picture), slightly disconcerting, I’ve probably watched too many Criminal Mind episodes.

    Under normal circumstances, it would be impossible for a car to stay in the same spot on a NYC residential street for more than 3 or 4 days, because of our alternate-side street-cleaning regulations. But those regs have been suspended since mid-March.

    If you want to get paranoid, just to the left of the white van, there’s a vehicle parked with a giant “NSA” sticker on its back window.

    Proofreading from Grab Bag: “Stalward Ticker contributor…” probably should be “Stalwart Ticker Contributor…”

    The letter from Jerry Krause to Jay Bilas raises an interesting thought, specifically this line in the last paragraph: “a special feeling of pride our current players have when they put on the Chicago Bulls’ red uniforms—-there is no “I” in the word “Team”. Beginning with the 1985/1986 season (around the time this letter was written) the Bulls changed from the script “Chicago” to “BULLS” on their red away jerseys, effectively eliminating the “I” from the jersey.

    Am I thinking waaaay to into this, or does this theory have some legs?

    Eric wanted his card to be based on the Red Sox’s navy alternate jerseys, and that “44” definitely didn’t look like the team’s distinctive McAuliffe font. But as I quickly discovered, the “4” in that font link as most of the other numerals, which I somehow hadn’t realized until now.

    I’ve long loved the McAuliffe 4s. Maybe not distinctive, but nicely balanced and elegant. When Hank Aaron was in the last year of his career with the Brewers, the club realized the value in having extra jerseys of his on hand. They bought a bunch from McAuliffe, complete with McAuliffe font. He reportedly wore some of them in actual games, though I’ve never seen a photo to prove it. Most likely they were just “team issued”, handed out to VIPs and traded in PR exercises. Now there’s link floating around on the collector’s market.

    Even the one link, donated by the Brewers themselves, is a McAuliffe.

    Is that North Union “paw print” logo ripped from Clemson? I always associate the little notch in the bottom right corner with the Clemson paw print.

    I think I am going to try capers on a hot dog. My wife just bought a couple packs of Nathan’s and we are going to grill them tonight. I have to have mustard and onions too…hope they go well together.

    The back of early 90’s hockey cards are a gold mine for forgotten practice uniform designs. I’ve discovered lot of teams had unique logos/scripts on their practice jerseys.

    I’ve been killing quarantine time buying boxes of old hockey cards for less than $20, and having a couple beers while opening them. I’d never really been a card collector, but it’s a good time.

    Yes, the Rangers wore that style for much of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, before practice jerseys became standardized. Practice-worn NYR jerseys in that style can be found for around 75 bucks.

    I noticed you pour your Bud as do I most of the time. Have you sampled Bud Nitro? You have to work for it..ha..flip the can 3x and pour down the middle. Interesting recipe from AB, took me a can or two to warm up to it. Keep up the great work!

    I’m aware of its existence but haven’t seen/tried it yet. In general, I like nitro beers/stouts (Guinness, e.g.), so I’d probably like this as well.

    I don’t know much about utilitarianism, but I do know who founded it – Jeremy Bentham. And I don’t know much about him, except that after he died he had himself mummified. His mummy usually ‘lives’ in England at University College London, but was at an exhibit in New York a few years ago. See here link .

    I differ in my opinion of the NYC flag, it is full of ties to the insanely rich history of NYC.

    Yeah, but it’s so crammed full of symbols that they drown each other out. It’s way too complicated. Like a Nike design so loaded down with piping and panels that any sense of cohesion is lost.

    I think the fact that the city itself can’t agree on what the flag should look like is a red flag, if you’ll pardon me. That level of confusion is never a sign of good design.

    I am enjoying hearing about your porch adventures and I can’t wait to find out what happens with that branch. I used to sit on my deck and stare at a rather substantial branch that came off an oak tree in the backyard. I envisioned it crashing down and taking out my privacy fence and the neighbor’s shed as well. Happily, it never did.

    You are correct. I read the piece about Mr. Trump’s baseball career and enjoyed it. I really liked that the writer dug deep into little-known newspapers and did some terrific research. Someone actually corroborated what some random person claimed? Well hooray for good journalism. It also made me miss going to my city library. Sure, I can do a lot of that online but there is something about wandering about and finding new things.

    I asked a follow up to the author via twitter.
    Where did Don bat in the lineup?
    He mostly batted 6th was the response.

    [I]nteracting with Hal always reminds me that I can be a better person, a more joyful person, a more generous-spirited person.

    I realize that there are probably at least as many definitions of “success” as there are folks who use the word – but anyone who lives their life in a manner that inspires someone else to say something like this about ’em is truly winning at this game of life.

    Props to Hal for being who he is – and thank you, Paul, for sharing his story with the rest of us.

    The new OSU ballpark is…. just wrong, in my opinion. Does it look to anyone else that the seating areas are almost an afterthought? Like 90% suites and luxury seating areas, overly enormous dugouts, and a few seats for everyone else?

    thought the same thing, waiting for the first pro stadium to be more luxury boxes than seats, as soon as the spreadsheet says it works…..

    Most new minor league ballparks also emphasize luxury boxes and special seating areas for season ticket holders, leaving the average joe with seats way down the lines. Close to the field, yes, but far, far away from the homeplate action.

    Interesting takes from the Collegian ranking the PSU uniforms…for me my home favorites are the navy with the bold white collar stripe and the white stripe on the end of the sleeves and my away favorites are the ones that are being used now, though I disagree with the author on white cleats. Keep the classic black cleats.

    Hal’s energy, joy, and playful humor are all so infectious.

    Now that is a line for the times, Paul!

    That Winnipeg Jets cookbook is the bee’s knees! Love the title page typography matching “Cookin'” with “Jets,” and especially love how the two o’s in Cookin’ are a pop-toaster!

    I have been using this time to actually read the coffee table books in my collection, including “Grand Prix de Monaco”, a massive 460 page history of the race published in 1998. Looking through the results tables, I was surprised to learn that 1963 was the first year that odd numbers were used on the cars. For the first 20 Monaco GP (1929-1962), every car displayed an even number. Numbers 2-32 were used before WWII, with higher numbers when the race returned. Francesco Mascarenhas in 1952 was the only entrant in a Monaco GP to drive car number 100.

    I guess it was only going to be a matter of time before the Mets went back to the BFBS well. True Uni-Connoisseurs may not enjoy them when the team’s primary colors are blue and orange, but a lot of fans do, and fans tend to gobble up BFBS merch, which is why we keep seeing the trend.

    (This is why it is fun to be a fan of one of the few teams that won’t fall prey to these trends no matter what)

    If I’ve learned one thing from interviews with ball players, it’s that when it comes to matters of fashion they have insipid tastes. Soliciting their opinions on how to dress your team, you’ll get a bunch of lowest-common-denominator ideas. My own tastes are outre, chiefly because I want thirty completely different appearances, and it bugged me when ball players rejected the uniforms I liked, namely the Indians, Padres, and Astros.

    Thank God somebody (a very intelligent journalist, no doubt) finally, FINALLY has gotten to the bottom of one of the most burning sports stories of our time. That is, did Donald J Trump really, really have major league talent? The sports world can now exhale. That’s right, Trump is a lying low-down skunk who had NO talent whatsoever! Just ask the folks interviewed, who, I am sure, are completely unbiased, objective, fair…you know, just like the folks who run Slate are well known for. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now I can go back to re-arranging my sox drawer and not have to ever ever think about that lying low-down polecat again.

    Actually, nobody claimed that it was a “burning sports story” — just an interesting one. And it’s an unusually transparent, step-by-step piece of investigative reporting, which is something you don’t often see in sports media, which is why I posted it.

    I also said it would be best to read it while putting aside whatever political leanings you might have. I’m sorry you weren’t able to do that. But it’s still a really interesting article on its own terms.

    Maybe not major league talent but definitely a major league imagination. His quote about being at a tryout with Willie McCovey makes we wonder if he even followed baseball. As a New Yorker, he should have remembered McCovey’s game ending line drive to Bobby Richardson in the 62 World Series, two years before Trump graduated high school.

    Great to see UC Santa Cruz, my alma mater, in the ticker!

    Paul, where is the Korean Baseball uni content you know we all crave? Yes, they are besmirched by uni ads, but … and have you seen the mascots?!

    Honestly, I haven’t watched any of it. Not that I’m shunning it, but I’ve been busy and, honestly, haven’t been that interested. But maybe in the next few days I’ll take a peek.

    As I scrolled through the pictures of O’Brate Stadium all I kept thinking was what an obscene use of money this was.

    Re: Bratwurst

    Damn you Paul, I managed to avoid buying anything with that script on it for twenty years, you’re gonna make me start NOW? ;)

    Thanks for the mention in The Ticker today, Paul! It looks likwe we’ve already had a coouple of Colorado uni-watchers find us becaue of it!

    Paul, I’ve been meaning to ask for a while now. Why cushions and not chairs for your porch seats?

    Because we like sitting on the lip of the porch with our feet down on the first step. Feels casual and neighborly. The cushions are more for warmth than anything else. If it ever gets warm here (no sign of that anytime soon — gonna go down to thirty-fucking-six degrees tomorrow night!), we’ll probably ditch the cushions and just sit on the porch floor.

    Thanks for keeping us up to date with Hal, the Hot Dog Guy. This is affecting so many people. And yes he does sound like the type of person we should all aspire to be like.

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