¡Hella Hungry! is a weekly conversation with Bay Area foodmakers, exploring the region's culinary culture through the mouth of a first-generation local.
Despite the Oakland Athletics’ losing record, and the cycle of bashing (not by Jose Canseco or Mark McGwire) the team’s paltry stadium by national and local media outlets, there’s at least one statistic where the A’s remain undefeated: hot dogs.
That’s because the A’s, who can’t seem to win back their fans, are currently being sustained by Hal Gordon, an all-star hot dog vendor with an entire lineup of nicknames. He’s Hal the Pal, Hal the Hot Dog Guy and Hal the Hot Dog Economist—he even has a set of trading cards and sponsored pins he signs and gives out to fans. It’s no stretch to say this red-and-white-stripe uniformed food purveyor is more popular than the current players on the field. Hal even brings his own extra condiments like jalapeño mustard and capers to serve fans, since they aren’t provided otherwise, making him a beloved fixture with A’s diehards and first-timers alike.
Hal recently appeared with me as a guest on Forum, hosted by KQED’s Alexis Madrigal, to speak with baseball experts and fans about the team’s dire situation. (He is a PhD student at UC Berkeley studying economics, after all). But besides the drama surrounding this team, there’s a playfulness to Hal and what he delivers—and it’s served from a 53-pound steamer he lugs around for approximately 8,340 steps each game.
I caught up with him while the Boston Red Sox were in town to discuss his favorite style of dogs and his love for Bay Area food. Here’s what baseball’s celebrity food slinger had to say.