An anti-ketchup vendor at the Detroit’s Comerica Park has been fired by the stadium's concession company, Sportservice, allegedly for his thoughts and feelings over America’s favorite condiment, ketchup of course. The 15-year hot dog hawker will have to take his views, and his polarizing singing, elsewhere, reports The Detroit News on Sept. 12.
Charley Marcuse, 33, says he is still coming to grips with his termination. Marcuse is known as Detroit’s “Singing Hot Dog Man,” and is well known at Tigers baseball games for two things: singing and his support of mustard only on a frank.
“It’s gonna be very weird,” Marcuse said of being axed. “I’ll sort of have the mentality as if [the Tigers are] away. So it’ll be weird knowing they’re here. It’ll probably take a little while for it really to hit home.”
Marcuse has filed a grievance with Sportservice. The company did not state the reason they let their most notable vendor go, but if it was because of his singing – which certainly can get a tad annoying as the video shows – the company wouldn’t have waited a decade and a half to address it.
According to the Detroit News, there are rumblings around those in the know in Detroit that the “real reason was ketchup — or Marcuse’s disdain for it. Marcuse, at the ballpark and on Twitter, has been a strong crusader for only putting mustard on a frank. And some fans thought he got combative when they asked for ketchup. There were complaints filed.”
Marcuse was asked why he was dismissed. Likely because of his unionized grievance, he was vague in his answer.
“It was general employee conduct,” he said. “I’ve vended the same way for the past 15 years, so there’s nothing new to any of this.”
Though he carries ketchup on him, Marcuse firmly believes that the traditional way to east a frankfurter is with mustard only. He even has his own brand of the yellow – Charley’s Ballpark Mustard – which is carried by area retailers.
“Kids come up to me,” said Marcuse, “and say, ‘Hey, 10 years ago you taught me to just put mustard on a hot dog.’”
Marcuse said Sportservice was constantly shifting the rules about when he could sing out his trademark call for hot dogs, done like an opera crooner. This year, the rule was Marcuse could yell out no more than four times per game, between innings only, and never when the opposing team was coming up to bat. That’s a lot of rules for a guy just selling a hot dog.
“Every year there’s something new about the rules and something changes,” he said. “It’s not very consistent. They’re not even written down. But I still want to abide by them, because I don’t want conflict.”
Marcuse added, “How seriously can you take yourself selling hot dogs? I am just a hot-dog man.”
Nevertheless, he’s hoping to get his job back.
“It’s a job I love that I would like to keep doing. I hope that there’s some way to come back.”