Milwaukee Brewers fans might not recognize Mary Hirt, but they have rooted for the Nova Southeastern University basketball player numerous times this year while she wore a clever disguise.
From May 1 to early August, Hirt worked as a Brewers intern, and one of her duties was to run in the “Famous Racing Sausages” competition the team hosts during the middle of the sixth inning at Miller Park.
Hirt, a 5-9 sophomore wing, is proud to say she won eight of nine races, smoking the competition each time when matched up against other females.
The only thing Hirt didn’t do was run as a “chorizo” because that costume “is super heavy,” she said.
Other than that, though, she ran as Hot Dog, Bratwurst, Italian Sausage and Polish Sausage.
The latter was her favorite “because I’m Polish,” she said. “I’m biased.”
Bratwurst won the Brewers’ first sausage race on June 27, 1993, beating Italian and Polish. Hot Dog (mid-1990s) and Chorizo (2007) were later added. Some well-known athletes have raced as sausages, including baseball players Hideo Nomo and Mark Grace.
Hirt, a Wisconsin native and lifelong Brewers fans, grew up watching the sausage races and remembers her mother commenting on how fun it would be to participate.
Last year, during her freshman season at NSU, Hirt visited her uncle, Bruce Froemming, who is a major-league umpire and was working spring training baseball games.
Froemming suggested Hirt apply for an internship with the Brewers, and that was the start of her sausage career.
Hirt, who is majoring in Biology at NSU, said one of the secrets to running as a sausage is that you have to use one hand to make sure the costume doesn’t come off.
Here are some more facts about sausage racing, as per Hirt:
▪ She estimates the race is about 200 meters, and Hirt sprints the whole way despite the fact that it’s “very warm” in the costume.
▪ There is a small vent where you can see out of the costume, but there is no peripheral vision.
▪ The people inside the costumes usually range from high school kids to adults in their 30s, and many of them are college athletes in football, softball and basketball.
▪ Each section of fans at Miller Park is assigned a sausage. The winning sections get key chains with the likeness of the winning sausage.
“When you’re running, you just hear a bunch of screaming in every direction,” Hirt said. “It’s really cool.”
Hirt, who used to be a speedskater in Wisconsin, plays basketball the way she races against Chorizo — all out. She said her game is to get out on the fast break and take it to the rim.
NSU coach LeAnn Freeland, who has led the Sharks to three consecutive NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearances, said she expects Hirt to make an impact as a sophomore after barely playing last season (8.1 minutes and 1.3 points per game).
“Mary’s in phenomenal shape,” Freeland said. “She doesn’t get tired, that’s what I like about her. Her goal is to outwork people.”
Added Hirt: “I love to run.”
With or without a costume.