SC Featured goes on delicious journey to MLB parks

The staples of ballpark food used to be hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack. And at most of the stadiums in Major League Baseball, fans still enjoy those treats.

But as Scott Harves discovered while producing “Based Loaded,” this week’s ESPN SC Featured, ballpark food isn’t just what it used to be.

“The piece is about the evolution of what ballpark food has become,” he said. “It started off as a quest for the most unique items all across the country and what I learned in the process was that there are a lot of chefs who take their jobs very seriously at the ballparks.

“It’s almost become a ‘Top Chef: Baseball Edition’ across the major leagues because some of the chefs are competitive and they’re trying to one-up each other.”

As Harves and his team found while visiting nine of MLB’s newer ballparks, almost every park has what he called a “wow” item on its menu. “Some of the stuff was even shocking to me,” he said.

Some examples?

A three-pound ice cream sundae in Chicago. An 18-inch corn dog stuffed with cheese and jalapeños, wrapped in bacon, in Phoenix. Tacos with beef tongue in Seattle. Macaroni and cheese with crab on a hot dog in Baltimore. A Philly Cheesesteak hot dog in (where else?) Philadelphia. And the list goes on and on.

“It’s a foodie’s dream to watch,” Harves said. “It’s a fun, fast-paced whirlwind tour of parks, hearing from chefs, seeing the creativity that some of the chefs come up with, and some of the different spins that they put on food.

“Everybody knows about the Dodger Dogs and the Fenway Franks,” he said, “but a lot of people don’t realize what else is out there.”

As one chef told Harves, fans still like to go to the ballpark and eat a hot dog, but why not give them other choices?

“We went out there for the food,” Harves said. “But we found there’s a whole competition going on in the stadiums that’s not on the field.”

The feature debuts in the 10 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter on Sunday, Aug. 24, and will re-air in other editions of the program throughout the day.

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