It’s Harry Stevens Day
NILES – While most partake of hot dogs during the summer, one city group is going a step further.
The Niles Avenue and Main has organized the Harry Stevens Hot Dog Day to be held from 1 to 8 p.m. June 30 on State Street and the Pine Alley area near the Niles Fire Department.
Stevens is credited with inventing the hot dog, the baseball scorecard and the drinking straw.
Dori MacMillan and Kristenne Robison, committee members planning the event, have spoken to different community groups about restarting the tradition of having a Harry Stevens Hot Dog Day in Niles to celebrate the legacy of the figure from Niles history.
The day’s activities will include a parade, hot dog dressing contest, cornhole tournament, baseball / softball clinic, best-dressed dog contest, Hot Diggity Dog Weiner Run, musical entertainment and evening lawn concert.
At one time, Niles held a Hot Dog Day for Stevens, which was often attended by 5,000 people. A plaque for Stevens hangs in Stevens Park.
Retired John F. Kennedy High School math teacher Nick Spano, who is part of the planning committee, has held programs about and researched Stevens and his many accomplishments.
He said he remembers reading about Stevens in an Ohio Magazine, which mentioned he was buried at Niles City Cemetery. He also learned much about Stevens’ life by talking to his descendants and city residents.
Harry Mosley Stevens was born in London in 1856 and moved to Niles in 1882. The family lived at a large home at the corner of Crandon and Robbins avenues, which still stands today.
According to various accounts, when it was cold at baseball games, Stevens sold hot dogs and was soon dubbed the ”the Columbus of the frankfurter” for his successful concocting.
Stevens also became interested in baseball and on a whim bought the rights to publish a team’s scorecard for $500. He was able to sell $700 worth of ads for the program, Spano said.
Spano said Stevens would often dress in a bright red suit and silk hat at games and yell, ”You can’t tell the players without a scorecard!” It earned him the nicknamed ”Scorecard Harry.”
Stevens died in 1934 at age 78.