By BEN SCHMITT
Charley Marcuse has been silenced at Comerica Park, but he spoke to Deadline Detroit today about his controversial firing that’s gained national attention and dominated social media discussions.
“There’s nothing specifically that happened that makes any sense,” Marcuse said this morning when reached at The Claymore Shop in Birmingham, where he works as a salesman and buying assistant. “It’s already been a crazy day with all the attention this is already getting.”
Marcuse, known for singing operatic arias as he peddled hot dogs during Detroit Tigers games, said managers from his employer Sportservice, which provides venue management for Comerica Park, fired him in person Friday.
“They called me down to the park and told me it was over,” he said.
Marcuse also disclosed he had been suspended for the previous Tigers homestand before he was fired.
Pressed for reasons behind the suspension and subsequent firing, Marcuse said: “It’s just the same sort of friction that comes up every year between me and Sportservice. There’s nothing specific. All I try to do is do my job and sell as many hot dogs as I can, have fun and create a unique atmosphere for fans.”
Marcuse's trademark became operatically singing “Hotttt Doggggs,” during Tigers games in a baritone voice,
an idea he got after a 1999 Three Tenors concert at the Tiger Stadium.
While Marcuse gained national attention with his unique approach to selling red hots, he struck out with some fans.
Some people complained that he was too loud and overbearing, and even got in the way of radio broadcasts of games.
Marcuse, who began selling hot dogs in 1999 at Tiger Stadium, sometimes angered fans with his strict, “no ketchup” policy on franks. But many found him endearing and believed he added to the Comerica Park baseball experience.
In 2008, he unveiled Charley’s Ballpark Mustard, which initially had been picked up by a number of restaurants and retailers. But he said today that the mustard is no longer on the shelves anywhere.
“I’m in the process of revamping my mustard business,” he said. “The problem with mustard is that people only buy it twice a year.”
Sportservice released the following statement Friday about Marcuse’s dismissal : “While it would be inappropriate to comment on specific confidential personnel action, in general Detroit Sportservice takes personnel action only after a complete and thorough review of an employee’s performance, all in accordance with its personnel policies and applicable collective bargaining agreements. Sportservice prides itself on providing the highest level of guest service to enhance the guest experience at Comerica Park. We encourage our vendors to interact and provide an excellent experience for the fans and are proud of the great vendors who are serving fans throughout Comerica Park.”
Marcuse garnered national attention in 2004, when the Tigers told him to stop singing.
But fan backlash was so strong that the Tigers compromised and allowed him to sing once a game .The Tigers even polled season ticket holders in Marcuse’s regular sections, 129-132. The policy loosened as years went on and Marcuse usually sang several times a game.
“This was a job that I loved,” Marcuse said today. “I never did it for the money. I never did it for the prestige. If there wasn’t all this fuss right now, I’d be happy to just keep going to the park and selling hot dogs. I truly enjoyed it.”
He admitted to being weary of constant conflicts with Sportservice.
“It got old,” he said. “This issue came up every year, over and over again. You could say they finally got what they wanted.
“The question is: Did the fans get what they wanted? I think most of them support me.”