In the bar where Darren Meenan once sold t-shirts, he now holds court. People shake his hand and wish him well.
Only about four years ago Meenan, a Queens native, founded The 7 Line clothing company.
Now he and his brand have become fixtures in Mets culture. It’s hooked a younger generation, he said, that might not have the fond memories of the 1969 or 1986 World Series.
“Although there’s not a winning team on the field right now,” he said. “I try to turn our events into a mini playoff atmosphere.”
The 7 Line launched its 2014 calendar, the third of its kind, at McFadden’s at CitiField on Saturday, November 16, kicking off another year for the burgeoning brand.
Eighty women applied to be on the calendar, Meenan said, and then it was narrowed down to 31 as a “little tip of the hat to [Mike] Piazza.” The former catcher was enshrined in the Mets Hall of Fame in September. In total, he said, about 34,000 people voted to select the 12 ladies to be featured.
The calendar was photographed by Bryan Dewitt over two days in September and hundreds turned out to meet the dozen calendar girls and pose for pictures.
“It’s really exciting to support a growing fan base,” said Nayi Castro, who will adorn the August 2014 page. “It’s really fun.”
The brand’s fan base has increased in the last three years. What started as a clothing line is now part of team culture.
Last year, The 7 Line hosted seven group trips to Mets games – five at CitiField and two away games – with double that amount set for the 2014 season.
Those games include trips booked to Yankee Stadium, Miami, San Francisco and Philadelphia.
“It’s the fans,” he said. “The fans are doing it. They come to the games. They have a great time. They tell their friends. And that spreads like wildfire.”
Chris Leuth has been the Mets ticket representative for Meenan for the last few years.
“It’s a pleasure. Darren’s a great partner,” he said. “When I met Darren, I knew there was a lot of potential.”
The evening featured raffled paintings of Mets third baseman David Wright by David Majowicz.
Majowicz, a Mets fan, said the fan base wasn’t something he pined for, but fell in love once it came.
“I don’t know if it was something I was waiting for,” he said. “But when it happened, it was immediate.”
Meenan, however, said the growth of “The 7 Line Army” had nothing to do with him, but rather fans who wanted something more.
“We call it ‘The 7 line Army,’ but we’re a great group of people,” he said. “We enjoy having fun. We’re very respectful when we go to other ballparks. I think that kindness is kind of addictive. We’ll go to a Cubs bar and everyone will have a good time.”