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The Man Behind the Mets’ 1980s Uni Design

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In addition to producing fine art and a great blog, Joe Petruccio also got to design his favorite team’s uniform. Here’s how it happened.

Uni Watch: Now, when I first got in touch and wanted to know more about your blog, you mentioned that you had designed the uniform that the Mets wore from 1983 through 1990. I’m a Mets fan and I write about uniforms, but I’ve never come across your name. What’s the story there?

Joe Petruccio: It’s kind of weird. When I was in high school in the 1970s, I loved the Astros’ uniforms, and I basically noticed that all the teams were changing their uniforms except the Mets. So I called the Mets and said, “Who’s in charge of uniforms?” and they said it was this guy named Jim Nagourney. So I would do drawings of new uniform designs and send them to him. I did this for a couple of years.

UW: Did he ever respond?

JP: No. But I kept sending them in anyway, until I went to college. Then, after college, I was working for Della Famina, the ad agency that had the account for lots of Mets advertising. One day I was up at Shea Stadium, and they said, “Why don’t you take a shot at doing a new uniform for us? Nothing too drastic, but see what you can come up with.” So I did a few sketches and brought them back to Shea for them to see, and they bring in this guy to take a look at them — Jim Nagourney.

UW: That’s hilarious! Did he realize who you were?

JP: Not at first. They said, “Jim, this is Joe Petruccio from the ad agency,” blah-blah-blah. And he looks at the sketches and he says, “Why does your name sound so familiar?” So I tell him the whole story and he can’t believe it. Like, what are the odds, right?

UW: Now, the previous jersey had a two-button collar, but you changed it to a V-neck pullover.

JP: Yeah, other teams were doing it, so I thought it would be a good thing to try. And I also added the stripes down the shoulders and sides.

UW: Right, the racing stripes, which some other teams had been using around that time.

JP: Yeah, I was trying to get them looking a bit more modern, like the other teams.

UW: Did you have to go through several versions and revisions of the design before it was approved?

JP: No. They sent that drawing to Major League Baseball, and they took it from there.

UW: Now, on the one hand, that’s the uniform the Mets were wearing when they won the 1986 World Series. But on the other hand, are you aware that some fans think of it as kind of a loud, almost tacky design?

JP: Yes, I know that many people don’t like it.

UW: And how do you feel about that?

JP: I think it was fine in the context of the ’80s. But I’m so happy they’ve gone back to the old button-front uniform. Whether it’s sports or rock and roll, I’m into the classics.

UW: Have you ever worked on any other uniform or logo designs?

JP: At one point I did a hockey design for Phil Esposito. He put a team together called the Masters of Hockey, which was going to be a traveling team of retired all-stars, and I designed the uniform for that.