Asking San Francisco Giants fans if they’d like some Grey Poupon with their hot dog is not exactly how outdoorsman London Van Der Kamp imagined using his kayaking skills.
Yet piloting a kayak-turned-hot-dog-stand in the team’s famed McCovey Cove in the San Francisco Bay is where the 25-year-old Californian found himself last Sunday after ESPN decided to surprise the team’s most devoted fans with a game-day treat.
Van Der Kamp was working his day job as a salesman at the outdoors store REI when a production coordinator hired by ESPN to pull off the stunt came in to buy a kayak. When the coordinator realized she had no one to pilot the kayak, Van Der Kamp got the gig.
On Sunday, he floated the kayak – equipped with an umbrella, a mini-hot dog stand and the all-important condiments – around the cove for nearly four hours during the Giants’ win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I was part of kayak club in college and grew up on the water, so I felt comfortable out there,” Van Der Kamp said today. “But the whole hot dog thing, that was very interesting.”
McCovey Cove has become an extension of the Giants’ AT&T Ballpark. The team’s devoted fans who don’t have tickets go there by boat to hunt for foul and home run balls while they listen to the game on the radio. ESPN, according to Van Der Kamp, decided to honor the fans by offering a day of free hot dogs, the same ones served inside the stadium.
“They don’t get very much publicity but they’re the true, die-hard Giants fans who are out there every game,” said Van Der Kamp, who estimated he distributed about 200 hot dogs. “It was a way to give back to all the people out there at the cove.”
ESPN tweeted about the event in advance, so some fans knew what to expect. Others came just for the hot dogs and some were caught completely, but pleasantly, off-guard.
“One boat had flipped and they’d lost all their food, so when I showed up they were very happy,” Van Der Kamp said. “I had a lot of people trying to pay me but it was all free, so that made them very happy.”
Van Der Kamp said the day was such a success that he believed ESPN planned to do it again this season. If that’s true, he said, he’d happily strap on his life jacket and hop in the kayak once again.
“They’re the forgotten fans, almost, so it was nice for them to be recognized,” he said.