The Miami Hurricanes are ranked eighth in the Baseball America rankings. But what's the real reason you'll find a lot of fans heading to Alex Rodriguez Park? The milkshakes. Creamy concoctions so good that spectators don't mind missing an inning or two to wait in line.
Mitch Freedman is the man you'll always find behind the counter. A former college ballplayer himself, he got into the food concession business as a way to stay connected to the sport. As an employee for food service provider Professional Concessions, he became the ice-cream man at Mark Light Field (the former name of the Canes' park) in 1986 when milkshakes weren't even on the menu.
Now there are at least 30 flavor combinations to choose from, and though Freedman won't disclose the exact number of shakes sold at every game, he assures it's in the hundreds.
All around the baseball stadium, you'll hear people asking, "What kind did you get?" Instead of answers like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, you'll hear Jayro, Omaha Express, Grasshopper, and Nestor Special.
"A lot of the regular customers added their own little touch to the milkshake, so that's where some of the named shake flavors came from," Freedman says. "For example, I started mocha shakes, which is a chocolate and coffee blend; then a gentleman named Nester Leon, one of our first shake customers, ordered a mocha shake almost every game. He was trying to figure out a way to kick it up a bit and added hot fudge, so that became the Nestor Special."
Freedman doesn't drink milkshakes as often as he used to, but when he does, he goes for the Nestor Special.
Some combinations -- such as strawberry ice cream and hot fudge, called the Rag Arm (named for a fan) -- just work, but Freedman is not ashamed to admit his less successful experiments. "We have a flavor graveyard. Chocolate bacon recently joined the flavor graveyard, along with blueberry, cherry, brownie, and gummy bear," he says. "We recently added apple pie, and it looks like that one is going to stick."
Though his location has changed with the remodeling of the stadium, fans can still count on him to be at every game to make their favorite shakes. According to Freedman, Alex Rodriguez Park is the most unique and family-oriented stadium in the nation.
"I have people who started coming when they were 5 years old, and now they're bringing their kids and getting milkshakes."
It's that reason he plans to make shakes until he can't do it anymore.
Diehard fans have already caught on to the recently formed @MarkLightShake Twitter profile and Mark Light Shake Facebook page, both created by Freedman's sons, who handle the accounts on a regular basis.
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The UM baseball team is back in town this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. These games will be your last chance of the season to pick up a Nestor Special.
Connect with Cassie Glenn on Twitter @cassieinmiami.