May 4, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

I was a child when the Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field but the stadium on Bedford Avenue stuck in my mind even as the Dodgers left for the West Coast and I was growing up. Visiting Citi Field last week, it all seemed to come back to me as the rotunda and the entrance very much reminded me about good old Ebbets Field. In fact, once I entered, I found it very hard to believe that I was in the new home of the New York Mets. All of the huge photos and the memorabilia were of Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The stadium itself was magnificent and although much smaller than Shea Stadium, the arena that it replaced, it had a charm that made it a delight to visit. The Mets also seemed to go out of their way to upgrade the glatt kosher food, albeit like the $18 parking fee and the pricey tickets, the fare was not inexpensive. With four locations, Kosher Sports, which also provided the glatt kosher food at Shea, offered an upgraded menu in what is now called the “Kosher Grill.” In addition to the customary hot dogs, knishes and pretzels, there were also sausages and grilled vegetables, all prepared on an open grill. The lines, which included all sorts of Jews and even non-Jews, were long as it took about two innings from beginning to end to get the food.

The glatt kosher food was tasty as the quality provisions from Abeles and Heymann always are (the knishes are from the Oceanside Knish Factory). One of the workers at each of the stands also served as a mashgiach. With no kitchen involved, it was easy for the worker to both supervise and serve. The kosher stands, as usual, also became impromptu shuls as minyanim were constantly being started for Maariv. Although I have yet to visit there, word is that the Yankees significantly upgraded their glatt kosher program in conjunction with Ouri’s, a glatt kosher caterer in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, in other stadiums across the country, glatt kosher fans can only dream about the convenience of their New York brothers and sisters, although there are some kosher programs in several stadiums (including Camden Yards in Baltimore and Jacobs Field in Cleveland). Late in the game in Citi Field, a Jewish usher stood on line for a knish, volunteering the opinion that “to be Orthodox today is to eat kosher and to be a baseball fan.”