For the past 20-plus years, Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers have hosted a between-inning sausage race during their home games, which requires five people to encase themselves in oversized sausage costumes so they can compete against each other in a foot race. The Brewers keep track of which of the five sausages wins — last season, the Hot Dog dominated with 27 victories, followed by the Polish Sausage (19) and the Italian sausage (16) — but it’s not exactly a newsworthy event to anyone who’s made it out of first grade.
But the Sausage Race did make headlines on the night of July 9, 2003, because Randall Simon, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ journeyman first baseman, decided to tap one of the sausages with his bat as they ran past the visitors’ dugout. Simon swore he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone — “I thought at the moment they were trying to play with us,” he said — but he managed to knock the Italian Sausage and the Hot Dog over. The 19-year-old and 21-year-old women who were inside the two costumes barely skinned their knees — but everybody LOST THEIR SHIT over it.
Simon was handcuffed and taken to the Milwaukee County Jail immediately after the game, and was ultimately fined $432 for disorderly conduct. Major League Baseball fined him an additional $2,000 and suspended him for three games, and the Pittsburgh Pirates released a statement apologizing for the “unfortunate situation.”
Meanwhile, the Brewers acted like Simon had beaten the sausage unconscious, bound and gagged it with the laces from his cleats, and left it for dead somewhere on Interstate 94. “This is one of the most outrageous things I’ve ever seen inside a ballpark or outside a ballpark,” Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers’ executive vice president of business operations, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It sickened me to see it.”
The incident also made Mandy Block (now Mandy Wagner) into something of a reluctant celebrity. She has always taken the entire situation in stride, as it were, and never thought Simon meant to be anything but silly. “I thought it was hilarious,” she told MLB.com in January. “From my perspective, it was so funny. I couldn’t get up from the ground, and another sausage had to figure out how to kneel in a sausage costume to pull me up […] Why would you not laugh at this?”
Hilariously, the sausages are the ones who had the most level-headed reaction to the whole thing. Then 16-year-old Ryan Borghoff, who was racing beside Wagner in the Bratwurst costume, took up for Simon. “He didn’t hit her on the head,” he told the Journal Sentinel. “He just hit the costume and she fell over. These things are so top-heavy that it doesn’t take much.”
And for the record, both the Brewers and Borghoff-as-the-Bratwurst won that night. Nobody remembers that.
With that little write-up, you’re one step closer to answering a question from this week’s virtual pub quiz.