Graphic designer Mets-Fan brings Shea Stadium neon to life

Shea Stadium and its neon figurines.
Photo: Jerry Driendl/Getty Images

Since 2016, a graphic designer named Dan Abrams has marked every Mets victory by opening up Adobe Illustrator, creating a drawing of a key moment in the style of the minimalist neon figures that once lit up the exterior of Shea Stadium, and painting it. posting to social media. Shea has been gone since 2008, but Abrams has become the guardian of his neon glow in recent years. Now he’s embarking on his most ambitious project yet: a campaign to get the Mets to incorporate his designs, inspired by their old ballpark, into their new one. Fans are reacting to the idea: her posts about it have garnered over 5,000 likes on Twitter and Instagram, and her feeds are filled with hundreds of comments saying things like, to quote one, “This should definitely happen.” . For a certain kind of Mets fan online, Abrams quickly becomes Neon Guy.

When Shea Stadium opened in 1964, on the eve of the New York World’s Fair, its defining decorative element was an array of hundreds of blue and orange corrugated metal sheets. panels. They hung in front of the exterior ramps which made up much of the stadium’s visible shell. But those signs fell in 1980, when the baseball stadium’s exterior was painted a brighter blue, and a few years later, before the 1988 season, 90-by-60-foot neon signs The figures generic baseball poses were added to stadium windshields, part of a Mets-ification of the park that followed the Jets’ departure for Jersey. Although Shea had no idea what a classic baseball stadium was, the numbers were at least a little flourishing, and they provided a good visual cue to distinguish the Mets’ home from the rest of the eerie concrete rings built in the years 1960 and 1970. .

Four of Abrams’ drawings. Clockwise from top left: Endy Chavez, Starling Marte, Pete Alonso and Gary Carter.
Photo: Courtesy of Dan Abrams

Abrams was first inspired to create one of these neon designs in the spring of 2016, when Mets star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes celebrated a home run with a bat flip. Neon Guy’s true origin story came later that year, however, when the Barstool Sports website used a similar design on a shirt featuring popular pitcher Bartolo Colón. Even though Abrams knew he couldn’t drop the idea of ​​drawing ballplayers with neon accents, he then decided he wanted to be known as the Neon Guy, and so the designs kept coming – both the post-victory images and others reimagining great moments in Mets history: Jesse Orosco collapsed on the mound after closing out the World Series of 1986, where Endy Chavez stole a home run in the 2006 NLCS.

“They take me back to being a kid and going on Saturdays with my dad and my brother,” says Abrams. “Part of the reason I do them – it looks dramatic, but I don’t want to let that die. I’ve done over 500, and I’ve loved each one, because this style reminds me that I was a child who went to Shea.

Abrams’ rendering of what his designs would look like inside Citi Field’s Jackie Robinson Rotunda.
Photo: Courtesy of Dan Abrams

For a while, the designs were a labor of love. Abrams, who has done design work for athletes, sports leagues and individual teams, briefly tried to sell shirts with his artwork years ago but ran into legal issues over copyrights. the image of the players. Earlier this year, however, he began working with website BreakingT, which holds a Major League Baseball Players Association merchandise license, allowing him to legally sell his products. t-shirts emblazoned Pete Alonso and Taijuan walker are available now. Car stickers are coming soon. Plans are also underway to sell functional two-foot-tall neon signs, starting with one of the late Mets legend Gary Carter, whose profits are from which Abrams plans to donate to a few organizations. Mets-affiliated charities. (He’s already made a Jacob deGrom neon sign for his office and plans to give each team member a personalized sign this year, both as a gesture and maybe a bit of marketing. He says that several players have either reinforced his work on social media in the past or messaged him directly to compliment him.)

Abrams believes in the neon aesthetic so much that he wants the Mets to bring some to Citi Field, and he was sure to tag owner Steve Cohen in his Tweeter on the idea. He envisions six-foot-tall neon signs depicting classic Mets moments, perhaps on the interior walls of the stadium’s main entrance, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. And he sees the neon lights not just as a way for the Mets to give a nod to their history, but as an Instagrammable backdrop for fans.

It’s not a crazy idea. Abrams has worked with the Mets before — they’ve previously hired him to create spring training graphics for their social feeds — and the Very Online team owner is as likely as any sportsperson to listen to this. that fans are clamoring for on Twitter. Under Cohen’s ownership, the Mets brought back their annual Alumni Day and reintroduced their Piazza-era black jerseys. The neon project, which was well received on social media when Abrams announced it, seems to strike a similar chord.

Abrams says he didn’t hear about his idea from the Mets and the odds of it happening “are maybe 50-50.” I guess it’s less. Says Abrams, “I would say what bodes well for me is that Cohen wants to do things that fans love, and very fortunately for me, fans love neon.” As they all know, you have to believe it.

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