SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
April 16, 1979
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April 16, 1979


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Fans: In Seattle, Cincinnati, Texas and San Diego.


The matter before San Francisco's Recreation and Park Commission seemed routine. Ordered by health officials to prewrap all hot dogs sold in the stands, Stevens California Enterprises, Inc., the concessionaire at Candlestick Park, complained that this forced it to buy $50,000 in new equipment and spend an extra $25,000 a year for labor. To cover these expenses, the commission approved Stevens' request for a nickel surcharge on the price of both vended hot dogs—to 75�—and, for good measure, beer.

That was last July, and a baseball fan named Ron Gordon hasn't stopped beefing. Gordon, a high school biology teacher, noted that the cost of the new equipment could be amortized over 10 years—thus the yearly cost would be $5,000. He also learned that the main piece of new equipment, a hot-dog wrapping machine, could be operated at a rate that would increase labor costs by only $1,092 a year. He then computed that the surcharge would bring in 1,836,740 nickels, or $91,837, a year at San Francisco Giant and 49er games, a windfall of $85,745 above costs incurred because of the new equipment.

Incensed by what he called Wienergate, Gordon has buried public officials and the media under an avalanche of data, spending $800 out of his own pocket for postage and phone calls. Last September he appeared before the commission with elaborate charts and said that if Stevens' figures were accurate, employees using the new hot-dog machine were wrapping only 2.7 hot dogs a minute. Then, in a minute, he wrapped a dozen of them himself—by hand.

Stevens replies that part of the 5� surcharge goes for taxes and vendor commissions. But some commission members admit that Gordon was very much on their minds when Stevens requested increases in concession prices last month. The commission cut back most of the requests, approving an increase in the price of hot dogs, for example, only to 80� instead of 85� as Stevens had asked. However, last July's nickel surcharge has not been rolled back and the persistent Gordon is now threatening court action. He says, "Some people seem to think, 'Well, it's just a nickel,' but those nickels can sure add up."


They held a Wilbur Hutsell Appreciation Day at Auburn Saturday and it was quite an occasion. First Auburn beat Alabama in a dual track meet at Wilbur Hutsell Track, 83-71. Then a crowd of 300 filled the Auburn Union's ballroom for a testimonial dinner. Wilbur Hutsell himself, 86, was there in a wheelchair.

Hutsell came to Auburn in 1921 and for various periods was the trainer, athletic director and basketball coach. But he was best known as the track coach, a job he held for 42 years. Auburn didn't award track scholarships during most of that time, but Hutsell uncovered athletes in physical-education classes and by means of a "cake race," in which winners received a homemade cake and a kiss from Miss Auburn. Making the most of available talent, he had a 140-25-5 dual-meet record. He also was a three-time Olympic coach.

Hutsell never really retired. In 1963 he and assistant track coach Mel Rosen switched jobs, Hutsell, then 70, staying on to coach hurdlers, jumpers and weight men. In 1973 he fell and broke his hip, but he returned less than a year later, moving about in pitter-patter steps, cane in hand, as he coached men 60 years his junior. A month ago, Hutsell was driving his car when he made one of his patented swooping left turns and collided with a state trooper's car. It was because of injuries suffered in that accident that he was in the wheelchair last week.

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