Ehrhardt, Mets fan known for witty signs at Shea, dies at 83

Updated: February 9, 2008, 3:44 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The sign man of Shea Stadium died Thursday.

Karl Ehrhardt was a fixture at Mets games from 1964 through 1981, famous for holding up tailored signs after key plays that displayed his pleasure or frustration with the team.

[+] EnlargeKarl Ehrhardt
AP PhotoKarl Ehrhardt, the Mets fan known as the Sign Man for his witty and biting signs at Shea Stadium, holds up a "Met Power" sign after a home run in Game 3 of the 1969 World Series. Ehrhardt died Thursday at 83.

He was 83 and died at his home in the Glen Oaks section of Queens, according to his daughter Bonnie Troester. Ehrhardt had been recovering from vascular surgery.

Ehrhardt's block-lettered signs served as color commentary for both fans in the stands and TV viewers at home. He carried dozens to each game, some witty, some biting.

"Jose, Can You See?" was a regular when Mets outfielder after Jose' Cardenal struck out. "It's Alive!" was for hitters who broke out of a slump.

"Just Great!" was for more spectacular moments.

Only the Mets 1969 World Series victory left him speechless. The sign he raised high after the last out read, "There Are No Words."

At one point he had about 1,200 signs to choose from.

"I just called them the way I saw them," Ehrhardt told The New York Times in 2006.

"Before I went to the ballpark, I would try to crystal-ball what might happen that particular day," he said. "I would read all the newspapers to learn who was hot and who was in a slump, stuff like that, and create my signs accordingly."

Ehrhardt wasn't always a Mets fan. He grew up rooting for the Dodgers in Brooklyn before switching to the Mets in the early 1960s.

"He was part of the happening that Shea became," said Bob Mandt, former Mets vice president for baseball operations.

Ehrhardt was born in Unterweissbach, Germany. He moved to the United States when he was six years old and later served as a translator for U.S. forces during World War II.

He graduated from the Pratt Institute with a design art degree after the war and worked for American Home Foods.

His wife, Lucille Schneyer, died in 1997. He is survived by a daughter, a son and two grandchildren.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press