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They grill Stoysich Italian sausage and burgers from Omaha Steaks. They enjoy beef enchiladas from a 60-year-old family recipe. They swap baseball stories, play cribbage and watch from lawn chairs as their kids play catch with tennis balls.
Tailgaters are as much a part of the College World Series as players with Southern drawls. Some families have been popping up tents, firing up grills and toting coolers for decades.
Their tailgate traditions started at Rosenblatt Stadium, the ballpark on the hill, and they're carrying on the food and friendships downtown.
Here are some of the folks filling up the parking lots around TD Ameritrade Park.
Menu expands with the crowd
Tom Gray's tailgate food started out pretty simple in 1986.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ham sandwiches, fruit and candy.
He didn't need much because the party was small. It was Gray and his family of three and another couple and their kid.
Twenty-six year later, there's more people and a lot more food.
“It just keeps growing,'' said Gray, who lives in Omaha.
Now the party draws more than two dozen family members and friends.
And the menu offers more than just lunch.
Gray grabs donuts from Pettit's Pastry and friends bring homemade cinnamon roles. Gray fires up two propane grills for whipping up eggs, sausage, bacon and pancakes.
For lunch, his crew loves Cetak's brats, made from a family recipe in Ord, Neb.
Gray is a season ticketholder and attends most of the CWS games.
He tailgates every day of the series, although if he's at work others take over the cooking.
Gray grew up about an hour from Pittsburgh, so he loves serving Iron City Beer brewed in the Steel City. He used to bring the brew back from trips home, but now he finds it here.
He's a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and the top of his black-and-gold tailgating tent features the team's three-star logo.
When friends ask how to find his party, Gray tells them it's easy.
“I say, ‘Look, there's only one Steelers tent.'”
Burgers and dogs may be tailgate stars, but John Nunez of Omaha says his mom's beef enchiladas can't be beat.
Jackie Nunez makes 150 enchiladas for the family's party and brings them, warm from the oven, on the first day of the CWS. She got the recipe from her mother and says it's been in the family for at least 60 years.
John Nunez says the sauce, made from fresh ancho chili pods, is the key.
His family's CWS menu also includes quesadillas, pork steaks and beef brisket, plus margaritas in plastic glasses with salted rims.
His sister-in-law's oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies are a hit for dessert. Tailgaters at his party will nibble through 40 dozen during the series.
Nunez, who tailgates every day of the CWS, says his brother started the tradition more than 15 years ago.
There were only six or eight people in those days, but now at least a couple dozen turn out.
His family even has a planning meeting to figure out the menu about a week before the tournament.
Part of his family's tradition is welcoming back friends from around the country.
“It's hospitality,” he says.
"They've grown up with it"
Chuck Dorwart first pulled out the food and started tailgating at the series in 1991, and the party is still going strong.
That was the first and only year Creighton University played in the CWS, making it special for Dorwart, a Creighton graduate.
That year it was just 10 family members. But now friends and neighbors have stretched the guest list to as many as 40. His crew still tailgates every day of the series.
You'll always find some burgers from Omaha Steaks sizzling on the grill, plus Stoysich sausage, says Dorwart, who lives in Bellevue and attends every game.
They've also added new dishes over the years — fajitas and guacamole, for example.
Friends always bring food and treats. This year, someone brought s'mores, which were a hit.
Kids stay busy playing catch with tennis balls.
Dorwart says tailgating at the CWS is an important tradition for his family, including his four children, who are now ages 19 to 25.
“They've grown up with it,'' he says.
Grab an Omaha dog ... and a napkin
You've heard of chili dogs and corn dogs, but what about an Omaha dog?
Doug Hokenstad of Omaha serves them at his tailgate party. He tailgates most days of the series, but offers the dogs only once.
His dog packs a sweet-sour taste his tailgaters love. It's piled with sweet sauerkraut, pickles, sauteed onion, cheese and mustard.
Keep a napkin handy.
He also poaches and sears Italian sausages, then slow cooks them in his own marinara sauce with sliced red bell peppers and onions. His guests love it.
Marinated turkey tenderloins are another tradition, says Hokenstad, who soaks the tenderloins eight hours in a marinade that includes canola oil, soy sauce and lime juice.
Hokenstad also likes to offer something new each year.
For this CWS, it's homemade mango and black bean salsa, says Hokenstad, who attends most CWS games.
Between games, he loves playing cribbage with his son.
Hokenstad's tailgaters also play ladder ball. Players toss small balls joined by a cord and try to hang them on the rungs of a short plastic ladder.
Hokenstad started tailgating about 20 years ago. He says one of the best parts is making great food for his family and sharing it with folks at nearby parties.
“I haven't heard anyone complain,'' he said.
An early start
Omaha's Gail Rosenbaugh started tailgating at the CWS when his son Scott was 2 weeks old.
Scott now is 29, and brings his own son, 2-year-old Jack.
Rosenbaugh's tailgate party started with lunch meat sandwiches.
Now you'll find such dishes as lemon-chicken kabobs and grilled pineapple drizzled with lime juice and honey.
Sure, it's a fruit, but Rosenbaugh says it tastes more like candy.
If you arrive early enough, you'll also enjoy breakfast that includes eggs and French toast.
He tailgates most days of the series and sets up his tent by about 9 a.m., providing plenty of time for fun before the first game.
His party draws as many as 50 people.
Rosenbaugh says his four grown kids handle the work. He did it all the years they were growing up and now gets to kick back in a lawn chair under his red Husker tent.
“Now they're doing it for me,'' he says.
Click on the tabs below to learn more about each recipe.
Marinated Turkey Tenderloins
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 ½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 pounds of turkey tenderloins (he uses Honeysuckle White Turkey Breasts Tenderloins) Usually come two in a package.
In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the first 11 ingredients. Pour 2/3 cup into a large resealable plastic bag; add turkey. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for eight hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade. Before starting the grill, coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray. Drain and discard marinade from turkey. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 7-9 minutes; baste with reserved marinade. Turn and grill 7-9 minutes longer or until juices run clear. If using a digital thermometer, take off when reaching 165 degrees. Serves 8.
— Doug Hokenstad
Mango Black Bean Salsa
15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
7 ounce can whole kernel corn with peppers, drained
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Cut mango into ¾-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with tortilla chips.
— Doug Hokenstad
2 pounds dried chili ancho pods
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
½ cup water
10 pounds ground beef
1/3 cup flour
5 tablespoons salt
5 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons cumin
2 cups water
1/3 cup white vinegar
4 cups shortening
8 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 onions, chopped
Remove stems and seeds from chili pods and rinse pods in cold water. Place pods in pot and soak in very hot water from the tap for 45 minutes. Then place five of the pods in blender to make a sauce, adding 1/2 cup water so the pods liquefy. Pour chili sauce through a sieve to remove skins. Add salt and cumin to sauce, then heat in pan until hot.
Brown ground beef until half cooked, add flour and stir. Finish browning, add salt, cumin, chili powder, water and vinegar. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then drain.
Add shortening to deep fryer and heat to 350 degrees. Dip tortillas individually in the fryer for 30 seconds, remove and let oil drip off. Then dip each tortilla in chili sauce. Spread ground beef on tortillas, garnish with shredded cheese and chopped onion, and roll them up.
— Jackie Nunez
Play Ball Cake
½ cup shortening
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2½ cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
½ cup shortening
½ cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons milk, divided
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup baking cocoa
Shoestring red licorice
In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add alternately with milk to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Pour 1 1/2 cups batter into a greased and floured 3-cup ovenproof bowl.
Pour remaining batter into a greased and floured 9-inch round baking pan. Bake both cakes at 325 for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
For frosting, in a large bowl, beat the shortening, butter and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Beat in 3 tablespoons milk, extracts and salt until smooth. Set aside 1 cup.
To remaining frosting, beat in cocoa and remaining milk. Cut a 3-inch x 1-inch oval for the thumb opening from an edge of the 9-inch cake. Place cake on a 11-inch covered board. Frost with chocolate frosting.
With four pieces of licorice, form two crosses over thumb opening for laces in mitt. Frost the rounded cake with white frosting. Use licorice pieces to form laces of ball. Place on mitt cake opposite the thumb opening. Yield: 8-10 servings.
— Taste of Home
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