Tuesday, September 30, 2014

>The Complete Story Of The N.Y. Mets Classic Logo

mfc Mets Realogo©
 The complete story behind 
the best logo in the universe.
No, not that one. 
The Mets Logo Contest

It's hard to believe but the New York Mets logo, which has gone basically unchanged throughout the history of the club, was arrived at as the result of a contest. When the team was in it's formative years, 1960-'61, they did things to attract and draw in the fans looking forward to National League ball returning to New York.
The team did major public relations work in making sure they would have a fan base going into the 1962 season. They knew there was a ready made market for N.L. baseball, but they still didn't rest on their laurels. 
They would run Casey out, feed development info to the press, and hold contests to involve the future fans.

 The Mets team name, Metropolitans, was decided by such a contest. The team owner, Mrs. Joan Whitney Payson, preferred the name "Meadowlarks". In her wisdom she allowed for the vote to decide. Both the team name and team uniform deserve their own posts and they will get them.

And so it was how the Mets logo came to be, as the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club held an open, widely publicized  contest in 1961 asking for interested people to submit their logo designs or ideas, and the winners' would become the team logo .

You mean there was a chance that the logo might have been different? 
Blasphemy! But it's true. A simple contest decided the logo. Pretty amazin'.

There were more than 500 entrees submitted to choose from (imagine if this was done today, with the internet). The teams first club president and general manager, George Weiss, would make the call. 

The Artist & Designer
Precursor skyline

A newspaper comic and Sporting News cartoonist, Rufus A. ("Ray") Gotto read about the contest and began work on his design. Gotto was known for his Ozark Ike comic strip. The strip, about a dumb but likable country bumpkin baseball player, was created when he was serving as a Navy illustrator during WWII.
Gotto loved skylines!

"Ozark Ike" would become the nickname of two major league baseball players. Gus Zernial and our very own Ralph Kiner.

    More about Ray, in his own words & artwork:
Courtesy of National Cartoonists Society
Mr. Gottos first draft of his design was colored in pink and black. He did this because it was suggested in an article in the paper he worked with, The Sporting News.
Courtesy of Todd Radom Design

  The contest was whittled down to four possible winners.

Lou Niss, the long time traveling secretary for the club, was the teams publicist when he started with the Mets. He contacted Mr. Gotto to inform him that he was one the finalists. Niss requested a version of the logo in the proper team colors of blue and orange. 

George Weiss and his brain-trust named Ray's perfect emblem the winner.

Mr. Gotto's work made clear that the Mets represented the entire metropolitan New York area with his brilliant conceptual design. 

I still would love to see some of the other submissions that lost out if they are out there somewhere.
Courtesy Of Rob Stolzer

Ray Gotto was paid $1000 for being the winner. That was a decent amount of money in 1961, but still a major steal for the team. One thousand bucks for a logo that still serves them to this very day. 
Really Amazin'!

I've always credited Ray Gotto for his design, although many for many years I thought his name was Ray Gatto. I can thank the Mets themselves for that since even to this day his name is spelled incorrectly in all their literature, as well as on-line at the teams website. Metropolitan Baseball Club Inc., please correct that error.

I've also confused Mr. Gotto with the great Bill Gallo. Both were sports cartoonists with similar names. Bill was a well known artist to me from his work in the New York Daily News. This might be a common mistake amongst Mets fans because I have also seen others on-line give credit to Gallo. 

 His name is Rufus A. ("Ray") Gotto.
 He was born in 1916 and passed away on Dec. 28, 2003 at the age of 87. Lets get this guy his proper due.

 Hey Mets: Please fix the incorrect spelling of Mr. Gotto's name in all your literature and on-line pages. Thank you :)

The Design

November 16, 1961 - The circular Mets logo is unveiled.

The shape of the insignia is a circular crest with an orange outline, with orange stitching superimposed, representing a baseball. The bridge in the foreground is a generic image of a suspension bridge in white, symbolizing the joining of New York's five boroughs. The ball contains a blue silhouetted representation of New York City's skyline against a white background, with the word "Mets" in orange cursive script outlined in white just below the center of the circle.
It's not just any skyline in the background, but has a special meaning. 
 At the left is a church spire, symbolic of Brooklyn, the borough of churches. The second building from the left is the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, the tallest building in Brooklyn. Next is the Woolworth Building. After a general skyline view of midtown comes the Empire State Building. At the far right is the United Nations Building

The Mets' colors, well established before the logo contest, became Dodger blue and Giant orange, symbolic of the return of National League baseball to New York after the Dodgers and Giants moved to California. Blue and orange are also the official colors of New York State. 

1963 Topps- Mets logo
Early on there were a number of different versions, mostly for printing purposes. 

For instance, the Mets logo used on the 1963 Topps baseball cards (left) is a pretty singular version, omitting the tiny stitching while making the sky orange, the skyline a lighter royal blue, and the cursive Mets name white.
  Changes In The Classic Design
In 1998 the team drops the interlocking N.Y.
 In 1998 the Mets made a major addition to their color scheme, adding the black jerseys and caps, resulting in three logo changes. The dropping of the interlocking N.Y. on the left side (boooo!), a drop shadow added to the Mets cursive, and  an alternate logo colored to go with the new black jerseys.

I was not a fan of the black jerseys (I still bought one, & the cap, gah!) but I did like the black version of the logo. I thought the drop shadow on the team name (also added to uniforms) was a great touch and a natural evolution in the design.
 I did not like the decision to drop the interlocking N.Y.
It scared me. I thought maybe the team was thinking about moving to New Jersey, as I did a few decades earlier. I wouldn't wish that fate on anyone.

^Animated Mets logo by NYCMP1 (2010)
More Recent Changes In The Logo

      In recognition of its 50th Anniversary in 2012, the club restored its classic look by dropping the black alternate logo and phasing out the black jerseys and caps.The interlocking N.Y. is still left off. The drop shadow off the cursive, now slightly bloated Mets, is dropped. It looks great.

Courtesy of Todd Radom Designs
Since then there have been slight unannounced changes to the original Gotto design. In 2012 there was a change to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, slightly redefining it's distinctive shape. Most agree this was done unintentionally as the logo moved through different formats during the pre and post digital years.

Most recently there was a small controversy as the Mets twitter feed sent out a version of the logo that added the ex-Citi Bank building in place of the United Nations Building. It turns out this version of the logo surfaced some time ago. Both then and now it's been professed that it was released in error and that there have been no official changes to the design. The graphic was probably done by someone in the media department who wanted to have some fun with the logo.
I can relate to that.
 The Mets Logo In The Future
Lets go take a peek at a possible change to the timeline. 

Mr. Radom's future logo
I see there are others who have access to a Tardis. Todd Radom, who has actually designed logos for the Mets (the 50th Anniversary), creates a new branch on the time-line with his nice futuristic design.

Mets 50th Anniversary Logo

Todd's 50th logo was an excellent job, like Gotto's 50 years before, perfect. IMO the N.Y. in the shaped home plate at the bottom was a beautiful touch.

I have always felt that the Mets should never change the team logo. Because it is perfection. 
There are other sports teams with excellent logos but none encompass everything about a team so completely. Am I bias? Of course I am, I've been a Mets fan all my life. Still, aside from that, from an artistic point of view, all pride in my team aside, I believe it's true. The blue skyline in the logo is as recognizable to New Yorkers and baseball fans as the city's itself.

If the team ever decides to really make any changes to the logo I hope they make sure to have it re-designed by someone who cares. Someone who loves Gotto's original as much as anyone on this planet and knows the teams history and what that logo means to Mets fans.

Hey! I fall into that category.
 An upgrade that respects Ray Gatto's original vision and sentiment. All the main buildings from the original concept are still included. The Freedom Tower and the Statue Of Liberty have been added. The interlocking N.Y. returns to its rightful place. And it's so close to the original you almost don't even see the changes, all the while bringing it into the 21st century. There is even room in the general skyline for two more future buildings, which can be added every 50 years. To decide the building, hold a contest or something.
Some of the Mets best decisions were decided by contests.
 If you want to go with a more drastic change you can replace the generic bridge with the Shea Bridge from Citi Field. Personally I feel this is a bit much (and I think Mets fans will flip if you change too much), but I do like the fact that it is something added to the logo that can represent two of the Mets home stadiums, Shea Stadium and Citi Field (I tried to work in the Polo Grounds but I couldn't come up with a way.).

 I think it's very Gotto-like to update the logo so it somehow encompasses both the ballparks, and I could get used to it. I do believe that the Shea Bridge will become a very popular place for fans as the years pass, if it's not already.

 The Making of the 2015 Mets Realogo©

This entire post came about when the news of the Citi Bank building change surfaced a few weeks ago. So I got started searching, looking for old pictures & info about the logo.
 I came across this picture of the N.Y.C. skyline and it reminded me so much of the Mets logo that it gave me the idea to create a version of the logo using real pictures of the buildings in it.

I should have been working on game two of the 1973 World Series for this blog the last two weeks, but there it is. When I get sidetracked on this project I just go with it. I was planning on doing a page about the logo's history someday. This day is as good as any.
 I ended up covering over much the original photo. A mirrored image of the Manhattan Bridge is used. I looked for "front on" photos of the original buildings, except for the U.N. building. 
I wanted that to be seen at an angle.
These are the last two tests. For the final version I focused on the blue tinted one making some additions to give the skyline the proper balance, re-worked the bridge, darkened all the blue, especially near the bottom.
  This is the finished Realogo© design.
Eventually I will update the black and white skyline version.  Maybe put some snow up there and have that up for Christmas.

There was a request for a version with a light blue sky.
                                         Light blue sky version

                  Here is a version of the Mets future Realogo©.
This was made from an earlier version that has 200 Greenwich Ave (for no other reason than that's a cool building-I was testing stuff) in place of the Woolworth Building and still includes the church steeple.
There's been some interest in T-shirts with the Mets Realogo© design on them. I'm looking into making and selling a limited amount. If this can be done they will be available before the start of next season. 
One shirt lay out will look like this:
 I'm working on a 2015 mfc fantazy slogan/realogo type of T and I'll keep you posted on that. An early design below.
 MoJo Risin' is not the Mets official slogan for 2015. That's just the Mets Fantazy Card choice. I picked that for a number of reasons. There's already a bit of a Mets history involving the song/phrase and it fits. It might take a year or two to be where we want to be, but it starts with the expectations for next season.
in 2015


>Dave Karlen Original Art Blog  -Ozark Ike comic panel.

 One World Trade Center, 200 Greenwich Ave., and The Statue Of Liberty come from a photograph at Amazing Constructions.

>BTZ@flickr for the New York nightscape that is used in the Mo-Jo Risin' graphic.

>The Crane Pool Forum- A tough room.
*adjusts tie.
I ran the Realogo by my friends in the Pool and I appreciate their input. I doubt they'll be too thrilled with my future logo. I doubt any Mets fan will be. Cause we don't really need a new logo. The original design is perfect. We need an outfielder and/or a shortstop, a power-hitter hopefully.

I edited this out of the of the logo post for lack of conformation. 
 Is This True?
There is a story out there that Mets GM George Weiss took Ray Gotto's idea (draft? concept?) and brought it to Lon Keller, a brilliant sports cover artist who did cover art for almost every thing from high schools yearbooks right up to major league baseball and the NFL football. 

He was credited with coming up with the Yankees top hat & bat logo, which then Yankee G.M. Weiss had commissioned in 1946. He designed all the classic Yankees World Series Program covers throughout the 1940's and '50s. This Yankee logo is a classic, and one of the best, but it does not beat the Mets logo. Nothing in that concept shows anything to represent New York. To me, that's a drawback.

Mr. Weiss asked Lon if he could incorporate any ideas of his own, and Mr. Keller supposedly did. One story has it that Kelley introduced the bridge to illustrate the connection between the 5 boroughs as well as some of the  buildings choices. I have no idea if this is true, but unless this information can be disputed I will include it in the MFC historical record as a footnote. If it can be confirmed I'll move it up into the
Mets logo story.

LonKeller.com- Mets Logo


MFC will return with the rest of the 1973 World Series during the 2014 Post Season


  1. This isn't Mets related, but I just want to put voice to something... I find it interesting that both of Ray Gotto's self portraits have his face bisected by a stream of cigar smoke. Obviously a trademark thing, maybe the way he crosses his T's mirrors that (or vice versa).

    1. I did notice that, cause it was in both.
      My thought was maybe he's trying to distract me from looking at his nose, and that it wasn't working.

  2. This may not be popular but why not include the citigroup center & the citigroup building in LIC in the logo. After all the stadium is named citifield and both buildings have a unique shape. Great work on your logos, cards and this site. It's one of my favorites on the web.Many thanks.

    1. With the recent flap about the Citi Group Center in Manhattan being erroneously added I didn't want to touch that with a ten foot bat.
      I didn't like that it replaced the U.N. building. If enough people request that building be added, I will get it in there. I see some other spots it can go. Personally, I don't feel that one should make the cut.

      Now, One Court Square, the CitiCorp Building in Queens..yea, LIC, Id seriously consider that building. Not because of the Citi Corp name, but because of it covers Queens, and its the tallest building in NY outside of Manhattan. It could replace one of the generic buildings with out much of a change in look or balance.

      I'll work one up and add it here this week.

      The early Mets were the peoples team and the people were asked to create a logo. So it would be a good thing if this was a logo made from ideas from the people. The Mets fans. So I'm certainly open to suggestions and thank you.

      Thank you for your comment, suggestion, and enjoying the card blog thing I do here. I love making it, and I'm just thrilled people are enjoying it:)

  3. Hi Warren,

    Thank you for your reply.

    I made a mistake on the citigroup building sorry.

    I have noticed something I think was overlooked in the Mets logo for many years the church is possibly Mount Loretto of SI mountloretto.org/ in my opinion. I think it makes more sense since it was/is the tallest building in SI.

    I would also like to make a few suggestions if I may

    1) Why not make a logo with all different buildings or symbols that the original in addition to modifying the original.
    The all new logo could include the unisphere (about the closest thing to including Shea stadium in it).

    2) Other buildings could be the Chrysler building, and symbols could be the Staten Island ferry.

    I always felt The Bronx was left out of the Mets logo it would be hard to include especially since Yankee stadium is/was in The Bronx. I also felt maybe right or wrong the logo should have something representing all five boroughs.

    I think your redesign is awesome Statue of Liberty, 1 WTC etc.

    I grew up in The Bronx a lifelong Mets fans moved after 9/11 (a really big mistake) and stopped following baseball after Shea's destruction.

    many thanks again

    1. I googled images of Mount Lorretto and I do believe you are correct sir. I'll try and add that to the text and I'll credit you with the info.

      You have good ideas and good points regarding the possibility other using additional buildings (or symbols). The unisphere is one of my favorite structures in the world and I'd love to get it in there, but truthfully, I feel that the changes have to be so minimal and subtle that they almost can't be noticed from a small distance. (on a side note, it would have been nice if the team resurrected the 64/65 Unisphere/World Fair shoulder patch in 2014 for it's 50th year anniversary, but they didn't).

      Extreme changes to the emblem were not considered. There are a bunch of buildings that it would be nice to include (ie: Chrysler Building,etc.). I believe the Mets logo is very dear to fans of the team and I put much thought into how it could be updated without any overtly serious changes, staying as true as possible to Gotto's design.

      There are buildings in the original that are unidentified ( described as "general skyline view") and I'd bet that Ray Gotto based those buildings on existing structures, although this has never been suggested (or proven). One already looks like the building you mentioned earlier, CitiCorp in Queens (pretty sure that wasn't up when the design was created). I agree that it would be nice to make sure that all boroughs were somehow included. I will eventually get to making another alternate version with at least that change, if not a few of your ideas. Sorry if this takes a while to get to. My immediate priority is wrapping up the '73 World Series.

      The info about Mount Lorretto has me thinking that I should put the church steeple back in the final design. I figured in todays insanely politically correct world, where other religions might want equal time or space, now would be the time to drop that out. I don't agree with the sentiment, but looking at the bigger picture I thought it was the logical thing to do. But that building has a rich history, and that's really what it should be all about.

      When I first moved out of NYC I felt like a fish out of water (for years), so I can relate to your misgivings re:moving out.
      Saying goodbye to Shea was a tough thing to do, but it's time for you to re-open your arms for the 2015 Mets.
      Its time to take back the city!

      Again, thanks for viewing & commenting Louiss :)