As we posted earlier, Karl Ehrhardt – The Sign Man – died this week. The NYT had an obituary today. My conversation with my Dad (Kingman Senior) this morning:
Me – “Did you see the obituary for Sign Man?
Dad – “Why couldn’t it have been Cow Bell Man?”
Tough but fair and very funny. That’s my Dad.
When I was a kid growing up in the Kingman Compound in Queens, the neighbor behind us was a nice old man who worked for White Rose. This was the late 70’s when very few fans showed up to witness the atrocities commited against the baseball deities almost daily at Shea.
Many weekend afternoons, I’d be out in the yard playing baseball or basketball when our neighbor would come around and offer up extra tickets that his company had to that day’s Met game. He was a wise man and always asked me, not my Dad, since he knew no kid my age would say no. I’d go rustle up my Dad and within a 1/2 hour we were sitting in Shea Stadium.
White Rose had a field box on the third base side, although back then you could have pretty much walked into Shea with a cereal box top and sat in the field level. Those seats gave us a great view of The Sign Man. My memory of him is that he sat alone. Folks would come by and chat with him and he seemed friendly. But he was always working, constantly thumbing through his folder of placards and always whipping out the right thing to say.
At the time, I thought he worked for the Mets. That wasn’t true. He parted ways with the team in 1981, allegedly due to a dispute over money (I think he wanted a discount for his seats). He has been missed for many years and is now, like Shea Stadium itself soon, just a legend slipping quietly into the past. RIp Sign Man. And check out Faith&Fear Greg’s tribute.