For the love of the game: See how some diehard Berkshires football fans took in the Super Bowl

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BEN GARVER — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
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PITTSFIELD — For Steve Bateman, Super Bowl Sunday at the Hot Dog Ranch is a ritual.

Every year, the 52-year-old Pittsfield resident tells his friends and family not to call him and gets together with more than a dozen of his lifelong friends at the West Housatonic Street restaurant to watch the game.

"It's like a religious thing," said Bateman, a Dallas Cowboys fan, surrounded by his friends in Pats gear. "It's just about us friends getting together and hanging out."

Bateman said it's always more fun when your team is in the game, but expressed how lucky he feels to simply be able to take part in the day with the same friends he's had since he was 5 years old.

It was a boisterous scene at the The Hot Dog Ranch Sunday evening, with the barwide outbursts picking-up significantly after Eagle Quarterback Nick Foles threw a pass that bobbled off his receiver's hands into a defending Patriot's grasp for an interception in the second quarter.

"I just wanted to see a good game," Bateman said, adding that it will be hard to beat last year. "I love the commercials, love the commercials."

Bateman wasn't the only non-Patriots fan at the restaurant on Sunday, as most tables harbored at least one Jets fan.

"We're still friends, right?" one of them asked her friend, laughing.

The local watering hole has been known for its mini hotdogs and bar food since its first location opened about 12 years ago, but its menu has since expanded to offer more formal entrees, Chef and owner Carl DeLuce said Sunday.

The private Super Bowl event was kicked-off with a steak a steak dinner.

Annie Ellsworth, a devoted Jets fan and one of the bartenders at the Hot Dog Ranch, covered up the Patriots logo on the staff t-shirt with duck-tape.

"It's the best I could do," she joked.

"I've been a (Patriots) fan for all my life," said DeLuce, who was feeling confident about their chances a half hour before game-time. "They were awful early on."

Cheers broke out among the patrons when Brady made his first appearance, but the bar fell to complete silence when an issue with a satellite dish caused a temporary disruption during Pink's performance.

"Give me a goddamn ladder. I'll go up there myself," one man joked. "I'll be the guy."

The issue was quickly resolved before kickoff and Peggy Clement, of Pittsfield, was the lone cheer in the bar when the Philadelphia Eagles drew first blood.

Clement, a Miami Dolphins fan, took friendly grief when she arrived just before kickoff in an Eagles jersey.

"It's my older son who's the Eagles fan," she said. "My team is out, so I had to root for him."

"To be an Eagles fan is one thing, but to just root against the Patriots and take on the colors of another team that bothers me," a man next to Clement said.

When Brady dropped a pass in a second-quarter trick play, the disappointment at the Hot Dog Ranch was palpable, with one man throwing his hat onto the floor.

"Well, he just lost MVP," Clement said.

Despite the Eagles leading 22-12 at halftime, Marc Wilkinson, a 32-year-old Hot Dog Ranch regular, remained hopeful for the Patriots.

"They'll come back in the second half," he said, before Justin Timberlake took the stage.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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