A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Remembering Esther Schimmel, the hot dog queen of Cardinals baseball

The St. Louis Cardinals won their first World Series in 1926, over the New York Yankees. The following season, just outside the ballpark, Esther Schimmel opened a hot dog stand that would feed countless baseball fans and many players over the next four decades.

Schimmel was a Jewish immigrant from Poland. She was an excellent cook, a savvy entrepreneur and a philanthropist who supported Jewish organizations. For Cardinal fans who attended games at Sportsman’s Park, she was a purveyor of delicious hot dogs.

| RELATED: Hot dogs, Hall of Famers and memories of Sportsman’s Park

“I do remember that hot dog,” said Steve Alper. “I just remember you bit into it and a huge snap followed as the burnt edges broke off. Just glorious.”

“My grandfather Aubie took my brother Randy and I to ballgames,” said Dennis Brodsky. “We wanted to go inside the ballpark and Grandpa Aubie said, ‘No, no, no, no. We’re going right here across the street to get a hot dog.’ So we lined up and he gave me a quarter to put on the counter, just like on ‘Seinfeld’ when they laid down the money for the soup. It was a great time—great memories.”

About 1946 – in Hot Dog stand at Sportsman’s Park St Louis

Who Was Esther Schimmel

Around 1900, Esther Kantner immigrated from Goworowa, Poland to the U.S. She and her husband Harry Kantner had two children. They lived on Grand Avenue, next door to a Catholic church. Esther, who was a skilled seamstress, sewed habits for the nuns and opened a millinery shop.

Harry Kantner died during a flu epidemic and Esther met and married a German Jewish immigrant, Louis Schimmel. The family bought a house on the corner of Spring Avenue and Dodier Avenue, across the street from Sportsman’s Park.

The house burned down and Louis Schimmel paved the lot and converted it to a parking lot that could fit 60 cars during the baseball season. Esther Schimmel had Louis build her a hot dog stand on the corner of the parking lot.

“The two of them were real entrepreneurs,” said Harvey Tettlebaum, Esther Schimmel’s grandson. She built a millinery business and was supporting her family. She was really quite a woman.”

Tettlebaum, a member of Temple Beth El in Jefferson City, said opening a food stand was a natural role for Esther Schimmel. since she was an excellent cook.

“She was a good baker,” said Tettlebaum, 82. “Her challah was just unbelievable.”

Tettlebaum, now an attorney, had his first job at age 11 working for Louis and Esther Schimmel. He earned $1 per day collecting payment from baseball fans parking in Louis’ parking lot and serving hot dogs at Esther’s stand.

“In those days, when you had a double header, the owners wouldn’t feed the ball players between games,” Tettlebaum said. “The ushers would come out and get hot dogs because the hot dogs in the ballpark were nowhere near as good as her hot dogs. When they were ready, I would hand the hot dogs to the ushers at the player’s entrance. After the game, the players would come by and they’d get a hot dog. I remember serving hot dogs to Red Schoendienst and Enos Slaughter.”

Esther Schimmel’s hot dogs were coveted by baseball fans and players because they were cheap (25 cents) and high quality. She sold enough hot dogs to be considered one of the top customers of Mickelberry Meats and a neighborhood bakery on Cardinal home game days. Esther never ate her specialty, though, because she kept kosher.

“She sold only all-beef hot dogs but she handled them with egg tongs, so she never touched tref,” Tettlebaum said. Esther observed the sabbath, so she never worked on Friday night or Saturday games. She always walked with the family to shul on Saturday mornings.

On May 8, 1966, Cardinal fans said goodbye to Sportsman’s Park, and Esther Schimmel’s hot dogs. The team moved downtown to Busch Stadium. Carter Carburetor Company was still located at the North Grand Avenue and needed space for employee parking, so it leased the prime spot of land from Esther Schimmel. That provided a steady income after the hot dog stand closed. Several years ago, the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia featured Esther Schimmel in an exhibit entitled “Chasing Dreams.”

The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council estimates baseball fans consume some 20 million hot dogs per season. In St. Louis, Kohn’s Deli is carrying on the tradition established 97 years ago by Esther Schimmel. Kohn’s Stadium Cart is located at section 147 of Busch Stadium, and is now in its 11th year selling kosher hot dogs, pastrami and knackwurst sandwiches at Cardinal games.



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About the Contributor
Bill Motchan, writer/photographer
Bill worked in corporate communications for AT&T for 28 years. He is a former columnist for St. Louis Magazine. Bill has been a contributing writer for the Jewish Light since 2015 and is a three-time winner of the Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish Journalism. He also is a staff writer for the travel magazine Show-Me Missouri. Bill grew up in University City. He now lives in Olivette with his wife and cat, Hobbes. He is an avid golfer and a fan of live music. He has attended the New Orleans Jazzfest 10 times and he has seen Jimmy Buffett in concert more t han 30 times between 1985 and 2023.