Smokies go with ballparks like popcorn goes with movies.
A local business and a local business advocate have combined to create a custom smoky especially for this year's edition of the Canadian Senior Men's Baseball Championship happening this week at Citizen Field.
It is a smoked sausage with special ties to baseball itself.
The inventors were Roy Spooner of the Yellowhead Rotary Club and Trent Keim of Rogers Custom Meats. Together they tinkered with old, traditional smoky recipes until they came up with something perfect for modern tastes but still in keeping with a special sports personality - Spooner's dad.
Leslie Ralph "Bud" Spooner was a giant in B.C. sports. After he nearly made it to the NHL in his teen years, he went on the military. When he left his sergeant major's post with the Royal Canadian Signals Corps, he became recreation director for the municipality of Delta, worked with then-Minister of Amateur Sport Iona Campagnolo to design the funding program that still supports Olympic athletes, helped establish the BC Recreation Association, and was president of the provincial organizations for boxing, hockey and baseball.
At this baseball tournament, the highest level of amateur ball in Canada, his legacy lives on in Bud's Ballpark Smokies.
"Its an original. Rogers doesn't make another identical to it. Its locally made, all natural products, a healthy smoky sausage and a custom bun invented for it by the Save-On-Foods bakers here in town. We've ordered up 800 of them," said Spooner.
It is all for charity - the proceeds going to the Yellowhead Rotary Club and the baseball tournament organization, Spooner said, "The Rotary barbecue is going to be at the ball game. We're doing a big dinner for the visiting teams, treating them to beef on a bun and things like that on Wednesday night. Then throughout the rest of the tournament we will have our barbecue set up at the ball park for the public. The smokies will be a big feature item as long as they last."
Keim said it was an honour to work on the smokie's design. He processes anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds of sausage per week, so to help concoct something original and in tribute to a luminary sports figure like Bud Spooner gave him extra motivation to do something special.
"Smoked sausage is my first love, anyway," Keim said. "Mostly the spicing's unique. The texture is a lot different than anything else I make. When you make sausage, there are so many variables. In this one, the onion is a unique twist. You'd see it in a true Polish or German sausage using a fresh onion rather than the Canadian twist we put on it using the powdered onion for shelf life and visual qualities. I was taught by a master sausage maker from Germany who worked here till he was 70 so he taught me some things. Overall this is going to be very unique. An old recipe reinvented with modern elements. Eight different spices in it, but you won't find one that dominates the others. We wanted to achieve a real flavour blend."
Bud loved onion in almost everything, said Spooner, who was trying to concoct the commemorative smoky for the baseball tournament, but not initially with his dad in mind. Once he started to sense his dad's own tastes coming through in their smoky recipe, the rest was easy.
Spooner's dad passed away about 10 years ago and "in a moment of love and nostalgia I decided to call it Bud's Ballpark Smokie," he said.
If Bud's Ballpark Smokies are a success, the recipe could live on, available at Rogers Custom Meats, with proceeds to community causes like ongoing support of Rotary and/or baseball.