The Death of a Legend

15 Sep

A legend in Philadelphia sports died this past week.  No, he wasn’t a player or a coach but he was responsible for one of the most famous foods served in Citizens Bank Park.  Yes, Hugh J. McNally, inventor of the Schmitter died peacefully in his home at the age of 81.

In memory of his passing, I thought it appropriate to revisit my own personal experience with this one-of-a-kind sandwich.

♦          ♦          ♦         ♦          ♦

TheI’m a bit of a purist when it comes to my baseball food.  I’m a hot dog and light beer kind of girl.  For me, adventurous is going for the chicken tenders and fries.  But that’s all going to change.  Today we’re at the Business Persons Special to see the Phillies play the Marlins and there is something I must do.

Today I throw caution (and my digestion) to the wind.  Today I vow to leave my ballpark franks behind.

Today I’ve arrived at the Bank early, TUMS in hand, to boldly go where no timid eater has gone before.

I’ve read about it, I’ve heard about, today I try it.

That’s right.

Today–I try…

Now for the uninitiated, the Schmitter is a legendary sandwich created at McNally’s Tavern in Chestnut Hill.  For years I’ve been told that you can’t consider yourself a real Phillies fan until you’ve tried the Schmitter.  So I’ve come to the park many times prepared to do the deed but I always manage to find an excuse.  The line’s too long, the game’s about to start, don’t you feel rain,? anything I can think of.  Then I happily grab a hot dog and head for my seat.

But not this time.

This time I’m determined.

This time I mean business.

The Schmitter is based on the famous Philly cheesesteak but layered with double the steak, triple the cheese and a bunch of other stuff  like onion, tomato, grilled salami, (did I say cheese?) and the whole thing is smothered in a gooey ‘special sauce.’  If a picture’s worth a thousand words, how about a diagram?

That’s right, I said a diagram.


Just looking at all those layers made me queasy.  All that cheese, all that salami.  Why does there have to be salami???  But I hadn’t come this far to give up now so I popped another TUMS and got in line.

By the way, the Schmitter is NOT named after legendary third baseman Mike Schmidt as is commonly believed.  (And you thought you weren’t going to learn anything here.)  In fact, it was the favorite sandwich of one of the regulars at McNally’s.   Now this guy always drank Schmidt’s beer, so the sandwich became known as the Schmitter.  (Somewhere Mike Schmidt is heaving a great sigh of relief!)

Wait a minute here… Maybe since it’s not named for a Phillie after all… maybe I really don’t have to…  No!  No more excuses.

I had my Schmitter in hand and it was time to face the music, I mean salami.

So there it is.

It looks pretty harmless just sitting there.

Harmless but messy.

OK, I just need to take one bite.

Just One Bite.


And you know what?  It really wasn’t that bad.  It was actually kind of tasty.  Cheesy and gooey and the sauce was a bit like thousand island dressing.

So let that be a lesson to you all.

Do what you fear.

Oh yeah, there was a baseball game.  The Phillies won their seventh in a row.  Cliff Lee was brilliant pitching a complete game 2-hit shutout.  He even had two hits including a double to drive in the Phils‘ first run.

The Marlins lost their seventh in a row and plummeted to last place in the East a whopping 11 1/2 out.

As for me?  I left the park with a full stomach and a smile on my face.  Not only had my team won, but I had won, too.

And I had one more thing to cross off that bucket list!


8 Responses to “The Death of a Legend”

  1. George September 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    Have had many Shmitters in my time at McNally’s, usually after squash at Philly Cricket just to undo anything good I may have gained from my workout. The inventor of the Shmitter lived longer than the inventor of the Atkins diet. Hmmm.

  2. geetie cohen September 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    I enjoyed rereading the Schmitter column, not so much for the culinary highlights, but for the sports highlights.Good one !!

  3. Michael Gillen September 15, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Well, this–which is news to this New Yawkwk transplant–looks pretty good to me, and I love salami too. But, combined with beef like this?! I am game, and don’t need to be AT a game either. I see Chestnut Hill: close by. And is this, might this, ever be actually served up at a Dickler residence? I bet it could be. Maybe I could bring some of those fine looking rolls. Anway, thanks for the lesson, Susan, and with not only photos but a diagram too!

    • girlsbestphriend September 15, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

      Hmmmmm. Having it at the house? I’ll ask the chef 🙂

  4. frumi September 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    The photo made me click…..I am gaining weight just looking at it. Love you, fc

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