On July 18, Ambassador Karl F. Inderfurth visited with the Summer Institute participants to discuss his multifaceted career and knowledge of US-India relations. Of the numerous stories he told, his “last meal” garnered the most smiles, laughs, and memories.
Shared meals bookend the time of an US diplomat at the United Nations. In 1997, Inderfurth left his post to serve as US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs under President Clinton. As is tradition, a newcomer organizes the farewell meal for departing diplomats. Bill Richardson had just been appointed as the Ambassador to the UN and asked Inderfurth what he would like to do.
The standard answer would be some sort of dinner; however, as he was remembering the countless receptions, dinner meetings and lunch meetings the perfect idea popped in his head.
“Hot dogs,” replied Inderfurth.
“Excuse me?” replied a perplexed Richardson aide. Clearly this was not the high-end cuisine he was expecting!
“Hot dogs,” Inderfurth repeated. “I want to eat hot dogs. Why don’t we take the Security Council to Yankee Stadium and eat hot dogs?”
Richardson, a former amateur baseball player loved the idea.
This is how the story began of 15 Security Council representatives jumping into two large vans to attend the Yankees vs. Mets game on June 16, 1997. Each delegate received a “briefing book” that included a short description of the game and a diagram of the baseball diamond and upon entering the van, each had the choice of either a Mets or Yankees cap. Inderfurth knew the day would be highly educational when the Egyptian Ambassador asked for a Redskins (a football team) cap instead. In order to get a true baseball experience, the diplomats declined the sky box seats and announced introduction offered to them by the Yankees. Instead, they sat as regular baseball fans, eating hot dogs, Cracker Jacks, peanuts, ice cream, and popcorn. The Japanese Ambassador/baseball fan, Hisashi Owada was keeping score and taking statistics in the back of the program. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Representative, was slightly confused by the rules, but still enjoyed himself. The game went into extra innings, but in the end, the Yankees were victorious. Mr. Owada and the Kenyan Ambassador Njuguna Moses Mahugu were so excited that they high-fived!
Although unconventional, Mr. Inderfurth’s New York sendoff was considered a great success by all who attended.
To fund out more about the game, read this Gainesville Sun article.
By Netta Ascoli, Education Program Officer, World Affairs Council