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|| News Item: Posted 2003-05-31

The Pizza Guys: Eat, eat, eat for the home team
By Bob Larson, Contra Costa Times

Photo by Susan Pollard / Contra Costa Times

Photo by Susan Pollard / Contra Costa Times

Pizza guys have a piece of pepperoni and sausage pizza as Chicago Cubs Sammy Sosa enters Pac Bell Park for a game against the San Francisco Giants Thursday May 1, 2003 in San Francisco, Calif.
Eat, eat, eat for the home team Pac Bell - a slice of life.

Who: Bob.

When: May 1, 2003

Where: San Francisco Giants Pacific Bell Park. 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco.

Guess where Vinny and I are about to have lunch. Go ahead, guess.

Time's up.

Pizza in the Chicago Cubs dugout.

Vinny is like a gangster in a cigar store.

For me, it's like a trip back in time - to the summer of '69 - heading into that brick-and-ivy building they call Wrigley Field. Home of the Cubs. I can still hear the sounds in the bleachers.

"HEY, beer here. Bottle of beer."

I was too young to drink then, but the beer guy was still fun to watch. He could pour three, maybe four bottles at a time. He'd take the money, and move up the concrete stairway. "HEEEY beer. Bottle o' beer."

Vinny: Hey, Bobby, let's go get some pizza.

Bob: Yeah, let's go find some pizza. We head over to Giuseppe Bazurro on the field. They have three kinds of pies. They're on display right in front of you. You can smell them. Three big pies cut into slices for $4.50 each. They have a cheese, a Margherita and a sausage, pepperoni and mushroom combo - with onions.

Debbie Jones: How you guys doing today? Can I take your order?

Vinny: We're doin' great, how you doin'?

Debbie: I'm doing great.

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Vinny drinking San Francisco's own, Anchor Steam beer next to a cardboard cut out of Giants slugger Barry Bonds during the Giants-Cubs game at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco Calif., Thursday May 1,2003.
She's got a real big smile on her face.

Vinny: Everyone's so happy around here.

Debbie: Why not, the Giants are in first place.

Vinny: Good point. We'll take one of each, and a couple of Redhooks ($7.25).

We get our order and head back to the field.

Debbie: Have a nice day.

Bob: So happy.

We set up camp in the Cubs dugout, waiting for the players to come out for the game. One of the first players we see is Sammy Sosa - what a way to start the day.

Bob: How's the pizza?

Vinny: It's really good, lots of cheese, decent crust.

Bob: Good combo. You're right. There is lots of cheese. I like the pesto on the Margherita; the four cheeses is good - you can even fold it.

Vinny does his New York fold.

Vinny: You're right.

More players make their way to the field

Bob: I think it's time to go.

Vinny: You think? Hey Dusty, put me in, coach.

Bob: Yeah, I'm ready to play. Let's make the rounds.

Vinny: Sounds good, I'm still hungry.

Bobby: How's the Redhook?

Bob: Good and cold, very fresh.

Vinny: I think the game just started. The Giants just took the field.

Bob: Play ball. Let's go up to the promenade.

We head to the next level. There are food and beer stands as far as we can see. We pass Doggie Diner - the smell of hot dogs and popcorn. Next up is the Port Pizza Walk.

Vinny: Here we go.

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Giuseppe Bazurro, Field Level, 3rd and King street entrance. Left to right are 1), sausage, peperonni,mushroon,olives and onions. 2) cheese, fresh tomato and basil. 3) Qualtro Formaggi, four cheeses. All $4.50 a slice.
Bob: It looks like those personal pan pizzas - cheese and pepperoni only - $5.50.

Vinny: Let's get one of each.

Just then we hear the roar of the crowd. We look to the field and both benches have cleared - Barry Bonds was just hit by Cubs pitcher Mark Prior.

Vinny: That pitcher better watch it, he could get his butt kicked

Bob: Big time; how's the pie?

Vinny: Like Mom always used to say, if you don't have anything good to say about somethin' or someone, keep your mouth shut.

Bob: It's bad, isn't it?

Vinny mimes zipping his lips shut.

Bob: Well, where are the garlic fries?

Vinny: There you go.

We hunt down the garlic fries, or I should say, they hunt us down. You can smell them from a distance.

We hit the Anchor Steam booth.

Bob: $7.25 for a Steam. Man, beer is expensive.

Vinny: The fries are great; how's that Anchor?

Bob: This is the best. San Francisco's finest. Good crowd today.

Vinny: Must be a sell-out (41,524).

Photo by
Bob: Let's check out what's behind center field.

We spot Orlando's BBQ.

Vinny: Look at all that chicken on that grill.

Bob: This place is killing me, there sooooo much food here. Hey Vinny. Check it out. Bill Greathouse.

Vinny: Bill Great - who?

Bob: He's the main man when it comes to food around here. Vinny: He's my best friend.

Bob: Yeah, right. Well anyway, he told me they have more than 40 kinds of beer at Pac Bell - and that microbrews outsell the big boys.

Vinny: Forty bottles of beer on the wall, 40 bottles of beer ?

Bob: Shut your trap.

Vinny: I'll tell you what, this place is a gem. Great views and great smells. Pizza, garlic, dogs on the grill, Orlando's BBQ and the smell of roasted peanuts; who has time to watch the game?

Bob: Oh yeah, the game!!


Peanuts, garlic fries beat out Coliseum pizza.

Who: Vinny.

When: May 11.

Where: Oakland Coliseum.

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Pizza Guys eating Round Table personal pan pizza during the Yankees batting practice at the Oakland Coliseum Sunday May 11,2003. The A's won the game 5-2, but the pizza guys couldn't finish the pepperoni and cheese Round Table pie. Thumbs down.
Mother's Day, and the Boys are at the ballpark. Them Damn Yankees are in town and it's a sellout, but we're early and the place isn't crowded yet. I lean back, feel the warmth and listen to the breeze.

For Holden Caulfield, sunny days were spent sitting in the tall grass. For me, nothing screams summer like a peanut vendor at the ballpark.

"Yo! Bag o' nuts."

Soon he's winging a bag of hot nuts - right over my head - to Dad and his kid two rows behind. All with the pinpoint accuracy of a Nolan Ryan fastball. Money passes back and forth along the row of seats. Nobody misses a pitch.

I love the peanut guy. And who hasn't envied the beer man with his harness and quick flip - heading into the thirsty masses.

"Yo! Bag o' nuts." "Hey, beer man."

So, I've got my ballgame basics; now it's time to settle into the action on the field.

Bobby: Whoa boy! You're dreaming. Stop yammering. It's been ages since you could get a nice cold one delivered at an A's game. Wake up!

Vinny: Augh.

Bobby: And there hasn't been a bag o' nuts tossed since lawsuits replaced baseball as America's favorite pastime.

Vinny: Yeah.

Bobby: And who is this Holden guy?

Vinny: Augh. Never mind, let's get some pizza.

Bobby and I begin to circle the Coliseum. There's no shortage of vendors, all types of beer from Pabst Blue Ribbon to Anchor Steam. For wine, we've got Robert Mondavi's Private Selection chardonnay and cabernet. Welcome to California. We pass the Saag's sausage window and succumb to the aroma of the hot links on the grill.

Bobby: Yo, Vin, they even got Gulden's Mustard for your dog.

Vinny: Nice touch. And look, you can graze on the sauerkraut while you're in line, too!

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Bob trying to open the Bud. There is plenty of beer at the Oakland Coliseum. But you can only buy it up until the 7th inning. Then it's time for a Pepsi.
Bobby: Hey, did you wash your hands?

Vinny: Of course.

Vinny goes on (and on) about the charm and character of the Coliseum's old-fashioned public restrooms.

Bobby: How's your hot link?

Vinny: Good, and for $5, the best deal in town.

The place is starting to fill up, and we get swept up in the crowd.

Vinny: Mooooooo!

Bobby: What're you doin', Vin?

Vinny: Augh, nothing. Never mind.

Bobby: Hey, the pizza stand - it's Round Table. Cheese or pepperoni. $6.

The Boys get one of each but stop after a bite.

Vinny: Do I hafta say anything about it?

Bobby: Yeah, or our editor is gonna be all up in our stuff.

Vinny: OK, we ate it and we didn't die.

Bobby: Vin, come on now. Look, there are people standing in line waiting for this pizza.

Vinny: I know. Hey man, come on, let's go get some of those garlic fries.

Bobby: Yeah, why not. I know you ain't kissin' any women tonight.

Vinny: Who needs women when you've got garlic fries?


The All Stars

Here are some best bets from teams around the nation.

Atlanta Braves - Hand-tossed New York-style pizza. Fans can order an 18-inch pizza ($21) via cell phone and have it delivered to their seats (in some parts of the park). No. 1 beer is Bud Light, 24 ounces, $7.

Chicago Cubs - Baseball at Wrigley, thick-crust Connie's Pizza and a cold Old Style Beer. Some things should never change.

Texas Rangers - Shiner Bock, made at Little Brewery in Shiner, Texas, on tap - 20 ounces for $5.25.

Toronto Blue Jays - Pizza outsells hot dogs 5-to-1 at the SkyDome.

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

One of the homeruns at the Oakland Coliseum is the Hot Links with peppers and onions for $5.00.
Oakland A's - Saag's Hot Links with peppers and onions for $5. Otherwise you're stuck with Round Table personal pan pizzas for $6. Fuhgeddaboudit.

St. Louis Cardinals - 32-ounce Bud, $8.25. (Warning: you could really get hammered at this place.)

Detroit Tigers - They have a pizza called the "Ham Run": ham, peppers, onions, mushrooms. Whole 18-inch pie for $13.50.

Cleveland Indians - They have a local beer called Eliot Ness, 16-ounces, $5.25.

Philadelphia Phillies - White pizza (no sauce), cheese, heavy on the garlic and spices. $3.75 a slice.

Cincinnati Reds - Ultimate Gourmet Delight. Deep-fried Twinkies and Oreos with a scoop of ice cream and chocolate sauce. $6.95. Major League pig-out!

Colorado Rockies - Rocky Mountain Oysters with a Slugger Stout or a Squeeze Play Wheat, 16-ounce draft, $5.75.

Chicago White Sox - Connie's Pizza, thick-crust sausage, they sell a whole pie for $22.50.

Reprinted Courtesy of the Contra Costa Times

(Bob Larson is a staff photographer with the Contra Costa Times. His column for the paper, "The Pizza Guys" appears regularly in the paper' food section. Bob also does a regular stint on the KNBR morning program. You can email Bob and Vinny at: Bob will lead a breakout session at the upcoming Sports Shooter Workshop & Luau, "Community Journalism: Covering Prep Sports".)

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