Target Field hot dog vendor Mike Vedder isn’t your typical guy. From a near-death experience to his legendary SCHWEI——–GERTS call that fans can hear from across the stadium, he is an extraordinary individual. “Two Men On” interviewed Vedder to learn more about his (interesting!) personality. Here is the interview:
Two Men On (TMO): What’s your favorite section to sell hot dogs at Target Field and why?
Vedder: My favorite section to sell in is the Terrace Level-all of section 200. I have established many regulars/season ticket holders and look forward to talking with them and becoming part of their experience at the games.
TMO: What is a typical game day for you? Do you sell at every home game?
Vedder: I sell at almost every home game. I think that I have missed a total of three games so far this season. Typical game day is we (seat vendors) have to report one hour before game time. We have a meeting where we go over the legal sale date for alcohol sales (what birthday it is that you have to have to be able to purchase alcohol). Also if there are any food product changes that have gone into effect for the game.
TMO: What is/are your favorite chants and how did you develop your speaking style?
Vedder: My favorite is the one I am using right now. It has been a work in progress. I started off the beginning of the season chanting “I have Schweigerts on board……Red Hots here…..”, but people were not always familiar with Schweigerts or the term Red Hots (which is the old fashioned word for hot dogs). So, I changed it. I still chant “Schweigerts” because I think it is very important to get the good, quality name of the product out there. The type of hot dog I sell is called the Dugout Dog, so I use that in my chant, and then just so there is no confusion left, I chant HOT DOGS HERE. So it goes like this: “Schwei————Gerts, DUGOUT DOGS… DUG OUT DOGS…. HOT DOGS HERE!”
TMO: Do you have to practice your chant before games?
Vedder: No pregame chant practice required, but all night long I have fans that come up to me asking if they can hear my “Call” or “Hawk”, the vending term for chant. I figure during the course of a game I use my call somewhere between 150 to 200 times.
TMO: Do you ever get a sore throat or laryngitis??
Vedder: Never really a sore throat, but my voice gets real deep and raspy sounding. At the beginning of the season, around the second or third game, an older lady that helps fill our hot dog carts told me in order to protect my voice so I could use it game after game and last the entire season, that I should eat two whole, fresh lemons after every game and drink at least 40 oz of water. I have followed her advice and so far, so good.
TMO: What is your favorite thing a fan has ever said to you?
Vedder: A number of fans have given me very nice compliments, but it always gives me a tug at my heart when I see that young fan, maybe at their first major league game. I hand them their autographed Twins Dugout Dog and they have a big smile on their face and the parent says to me “Thank you very much, this is what the baseball experience is all about.”
TMO: Are you willing to say what your favorite kind of hot dog is? How about your favorite Twins player?
Vedder: My favorite hot dog is the Dugout Dog. To be honest with you I don’t eat very many due to diet restrictions due to a heart issue.
My favorite Twins player is by far Joe Mauer…Hands down!! A true professional and gentlemen. The measure of a true professional is not how he handles himself when things are going well and while he is on the top of the mountain, but when things are rough and when you are deep in the valley. In my book Joe is the real deal and has utmost class on and off the field. Also, my oldest daughter likes to joke around that someday I will be able to call him my son-in-law!!
TMO: How long have you been selling at Twins games and where else do you work?
Vedder: This is my first year vending and selling at Target Field. I had a heart attack last year, the day before Thanksgiving, and was one of the LUCKY ones to still be around to talk about it. I had a stint put in and now have lost close to 80 pounds and feel very blessed to still be here. After something like that your priorities in life change. I decided to get out of the corporate world and go do something I truly loved. I have always loved baseball and came up with this idea of vending in the stands to stay in shape and hang out in a place just this side of HEAVEN…and let me tell you, it has been wonderful. When the Twins are on the road and during most days I have the privilege of teaching students how to drive.
I had the privilege of meeting Vedder at Target Field on August 21. Click here to see his Facebook page. He sure has had an adventurous life and has ended up where he has always wanted to be, in “a place just this side of heaven.” And, fans don’t have to worry about hearing him!
Written by: Sam Graves