Racing sausages about to turn 20 years old

Racing sausages about to turn 20 years old

HOUSTON -- The Brewers plan to say Happy 20th Birthday to Klement's Famous Racing Sausages with a celebration of cased meats next week at Miller Park.

The running wienies jumped from the old Milwaukee County Stadium scoreboard to the field on June 27, 1993, debuting as live racers on the warning track and launching a tradition that has spread around Major League Baseball. The Brewers will mark 20 years since that debut with -- what else -- a June 27 sausage breakfast, followed by a ceremony at Miller Park later in the day and a race of the three originals: No. 1 Bratwurst, No. 2 Polish and No. 3 Italian.

Since their birth, the racers have enjoyed the thrill of victory, spawned an entire section of memorabilia in the team stores at Miller Park and inspired imitations at 15 other Major League ballparks. They have also swallowed tough losses and been alternatively misplaced, assaulted (by the Pirates' Randall Simon in 2003) and kidnapped (by some fans in suburban Milwaukee this spring).

The race began as a scoreboard animation in the early 1990s with Bratwurst, Polish and Italian running toward Milwaukee County Stadium against a backdrop of the city. In the fall of '92, Milwaukee graphic designer Michael Dillon of McDill Design presented an idea to Brewers vice president Gabe Paul, proposing to transform the race from animation to live action.

On June 27, 1993, as the Sausages approached the stadium on the scoreboard video, the left field doors swung open and, to the surprise of players and fans, out came seven-foot mascots. The three made their way to home plate with Bratwurst (worn by Dillon) winning.

For the remainder of the 1993 season, the Sausages raced live only at those games with particularly high attendance. In '94, the live Sausage race resumed on Sunday, May 29 -- the day the Brewers retired Robin Yount's No. 19 jersey -- with sponsorship from Klement's, and has been a fixture at every home game since.

Hot Dog joined the race later in the decade. In 2007, after a one-race tryout the previous year, Chorizo made it a five-some.

The June 27 birthday party begins at 6 a.m. CT at NorthPoint Custard, 2272 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr. along the shore of Lake Michigan. The first 250 fans will receive a free sausage breakfast sandwich , a coffee and an exclusive 20th Anniversary Klement's Famous Racing Sausages commemorative T-Shirt. Fewer than 500 of the shirts will be made, and the event will be first come, first served.

The Brewers play the Cubs that afternoon at Miller Park, where the original three racers will be honored again.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.