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Get Ready to Say Goodbye to ‘Hal the Hot Dog Guy,’ the Oakland A’s Unofficial Mascot

Hal Gordon shared the news on Twitter: His time vending the Coliseum ends after this year.

Oakland A’s Attendance Dwindles To Historic Lows Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

It was a good, long run but soon enough, one of the most recognizable faces associated with the Oakland Athletics will disappear from the Coliseum. And no, we’re not talking about anyone who actually swings a bat or fields fly balls on that hallowed ground. We’re talking about the one-and-only Hal Gordon, known to most fans as “Hal the Hot Dog Guy” — as in that locally famous vendor who’s become the “unofficial mascot” of the Bay Area’s second-most-popular baseball team.

Gordon made the announcement via Twitter on Tuesday, sharing with his thousands of followers that he couldn’t reach a deal with the team that would allow him to continue working at the stadium. That’s because Gordon isn’t just one of the most popular attractions at A’s games these days; he’s also a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley studying agriculture and resource economics. According to his Twitter thread, he approached the A’s about hiring him as an economist after his graduation, offering to continue working as a game vendor pretty much for free. But the team, which has yet to solidify plans for a new stadium and continues to struggle to, um, win at actually playing baseball, told Gordon that hiring an economist just isn’t in the cards right now.

SFGATE spoke to Gordon about the big news, which he described as disappointing. “It’s something I knew was going to be a long shot,” Gordon said. “The A’s would have loved to keep me on as the hot dog guy, … [but] I didn’t know if they thought it was worth trying to match an economist salary and keep me along.” In his Twitter thread, Gordon — as any good numbers guy would do! — outlined the economic argument for keeping him in the stands next year, pointing out that if his presence attracts even just 25 fans a game, at $75 per fan, a new position for him on the team would ostensibly pay for itself. “Maybe that’s a big overestimate of my worth, idk,” he conceded.

Gordon earned his reputation as the most popular vendor at the Coliseum thanks in part to his old-timey red-and-white striped outfit and famous fake ketchup prank. He’d regularly lead fans in cheers and, during the 2020 season, when neither fans nor vendors could physically be in the stadium, Gordon appeared in spirit via a lifesize cutout placed right behind home plate. Gordon’s also a seasoned pro: he’s been vending since 2005, the summer between high school and college according to his very own Wikipedia page, first at White Sox and Cubs games and later at Nationals Games in Washington, D.C.

Gordon told SFGATE he plans to work opening day next season, scheduled for March 30, but said that’ll mark the end of his time entertaining loyal A’s fans. “It’s impossible to imagine having as much fun as I did being the hot dog guy,” he told the outlet. “It’s been an honor, and it’s something I will never forget.”