“Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts & Cracker Jack, I don’t care if I never get back!”....
While all professional leagues offer concessions to their fans, no sport combines its game and food better than baseball! Even that 7th Inning Stretch standard, “Take Me Out to The Ball Game,” extolls the taste-treat virtues of peanuts and Cracker Jack!
Perhaps the reason food and drink go so well with baseball is the game’s leisurely pace allows fans to savor ball park foods in an equally casual way. You don’t have to gulp your food in 30-second intervals between plays like at football or sneak in a bite or two as basketball players run from one end of the court to the other in seconds, or wear gloves to manipulate your meal like at a hockey game! On top of that, baseball’s love affair with food goes back well over a century, so much so that the mere mention of certain types evokes a trip to the ball park; whenever you hear “Dog & A Beer,” who doesn’t think baseball?
Everything But Mussels
To get your ball park food fix on in the Fort Myers area, head to Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex at 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway to take in a Fort Myers Mighty Mussels game, a minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. The team offers a broad array of menu selections but if crave their signature seafood name, you must go elsewhere – there are no mussels on the Mussels menu!
Let’s start with the obvious – the hot dog – and those at Hammond Stadium are absolutely terrific! Thick, meaty and cooked to perfection, the dogs fill the bun full and are a taste sensation. Owning to the pandemic health and safety conditions, concession personnel serve your dog in a cardboard container with individual ketchup, mustard, and relish servings. At $5 each, you can’t go wrong, but for a real “Bang for Your Hot Dog Buck,” Tuesdays are 2-for-1 dogs and Wednesdays are $1 hot dogs all game!
If you want to step up your hot dog game for a bit more money, the Mussels have scrumptious bratwursts for $6 or go all the way to the top of the dog food chain with an Italian sausage with ample peppers and onions for $8.50. If you feel like a rebel and want to go against tradition, hamburgs and cheeseburgers are $6, veggie burgers $6.50, grilled chicken sandwiches $7, and chicken tenders with fries $7.75.
Rachel Raymer is the Mighty Mussels Operations Coordinator, requiring her to be at every homegame; as such, she experiences more ball park food in a season than many people do in a lifetime! Her personal preference is the Philly Cheesesteak crammed with peppers and onions at $8.
“You don’t find Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches at many minor league ballparks,” Rachel explained, “so its uniqueness alone makes it a fun choice. They are delicious – really Philly and really cheesy!”
Snacks & “Sunday Brunch”
If snacks are more your style, the Mussels have plenty. Peanuts and Cracker Jack are so intertwined with baseball that Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer included them in their 1908 song, “Take Me Out to The Ball Game,” that is now baseball’s official anthem that fans sing out loud each game during the 7th Inning Stretch. It is no coincidence, however, that these two staples are at every baseball stadium for well over a century – the molasses-flavored and caramel-coated popcorn with peanuts Cracker Jack and salted peanuts make you so thirsty that you absolutely must wash them down with one or more cold sodas or cold ones! This is true, by the way, of the salt content in hot dogs. The Mussels sell generous size bags of peanuts for $4 and Cracker Jack for $3, but while the latter still offers a Toy Surprise, those of us who fondly remember the “Buried Treasures” of our youth inside those old Cracker Jack boxes can barely mask our disappointment by today’s sad little prizes.
If peanuts and Cracker Jack are not for you, the Mussels sell chips for $2, popcorn for $3.50, French fries at $4 and cheese fries for $5, a wonderful hot large pretzel for $5.50 with sides of cheese and jalapenos an extra $1 each, and nachos with cheese for $6, along with various ice creams. Of course, with all this food, you need to wash it down, so the Mussels provide bottled water and tea, Gatorade and Pepsi products, and Harmon Killebrew Root Beer in the $4 to $5 range.
But, like with hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack, baseball games scream out BEER – for adults only, of course – and the Mighty Mussels provide a broad array of selections and prices. Domestic drafts are $6.50, 16-ounce metal bottles are $7, and craft draft go for $7.50 but those are just the top of the beer iceberg!
As with hot dogs, the Mussels sell draft beers 2-for-1 on “Two For Tuesdays,” have $1 cans and $2 drafts on “Thirsty Thursdays,” and each game has the “Strikeout Batter of The Game,” where they select one opposing player each contest and if that unfortunate guy whiffs, 12-ounce drafts are $2 for the next 15 minutes! If you prefer something stronger, there is full bar services, including a “Happy Hour” for all Friday homegames that lasts from 6 to 7 p.m.
For your best overall bang for your food buck, the Mussels present new this season a “Sunday Brunch”
Before every Sunday homegame at just $10-per-person from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Savor all-you-can-eat eggs, sausages, meatballs, veggies, pancakes and more, along with desserts such as chocolate chip cookies, cakes, brownies, cinnamon rolls, and other assorted delicacies! Along with the food, Mimosas are $2 and Bloody Mary’s $5.
Recap: Promotions & Tickets
All Mussels 2021 homegames are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7 p.m., with Sundays at Noon, with each having its own special promotion. “Two For Tuesdays” feature 2-for-1 hot dogs, draft beers, and sodas.
Wednesdays are “Senior Nights” with discount admission prices as well as “Dollar Hot Dogs.” Thursdays are “College Night” with all college students with IDs purchasing tickets for $5, along with “Thirsty Thursdays” with $1 beers and $2 drafts. Fridays are a “Happy Hour” from 6 to 7 p.m., with fireworks after the game.
Saturdays are “Bark in The Park” where fans bring their dogs to the contest while receiving terrific promotional giveaways. Sundays are “Sunday Brunch” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., for $10 on top of your ticket, with kids running the bases after the game.
The Mussels are home again Tuesday through Sunday, June 15 through 20, versus the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Tickets range from $9 to $12; purchase them online at www.milb.com, at the box office which opens 60 minutes prior to each game, or over the telephone at 239-768-4210, with parking $10-per-car. The Mighty Mussels play at Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sports Complex at 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway.