Remembrance of Promos Past

Though no pitches have been thrown in anger just yet, players are in spring training camps, and that excites me. Jose Reyes is running the bases, Johan Santana is throwing bullpen sessions, and Ollie Perez has managed to eat lunch every day without hurting himself. I haven’t seen footage of any of these things, but I know they are happening, and that knowledge soothes me.

But I got genuinely excited over something I saw yesterday. Matthew Cerrone at Metsblog posted this pic snapped at Port St. Lucie.

mets_rccola_bag.jpgWhat is that? Why it’s a stadium giveaway duffel bag, clearly sponsored by RC Cola, dating to the late 80s-early 90s. The sight of this thing was nigh Proustian in the memories it dredged up. But not of actually using the bag. Just of seeing ads for BAG NIGHT! at Shea, then seeing said bag used by classmates and townfolk for the next few years. It gave me the same feeling I get when I watch old commercials, and have phrases I haven’t thought of in years ring tiny little bells in my brain.

I wanted this to be a springboard for a post on other Shea Stadium giveaways from the same era, but sadly, the interweb information on such things is rather poor. You’d think some maniac out there would have compiled a site dedicated just to this, but you’d think wrong.

But there is some web-based evidence of RC Cola’s role in Mets history. The soda had a long, intermittent association with the team dating back to its earliest days. This was back when Shea had more small-time sponsors like Rheingold Beer and local Plymouth dealerships.

Oddly enough, they seem to have returned to this route at CitiField, where you now see ads for things like Arpielle Equipment, cash-for-gold web sites, and other second-tier businesses. Which seems kind of creepy and shady, now that I think about it.

It was a fitting partnership. RC Cola was always the shameful bronze to the gold and silver of Coke and Pepsi, while the Mets were the brand new “upstart” team in town. RC even tried to play up this connection, as you’ll see in this ad from the 1960s. A shapely young lady poses with an RC Cola in front of Shea Stadium, though the facility can barely be discerned behind her, or the giant fountain which must have once been somewhere near it (or the Worlds Fairgrounds, or the designer’s imagination). I get the destinct impression that baseball was not the focus of this ad.

mets_rccola_69.jpgOther than the duffel bag, the RC Cola promo I remember the most were these commemorative cans following the Mets’ 1986 World Series victory. Decorated in a gloriously 80s design scheme, these cans declared to the world, “I know how to jump on a bandwagon as I drink.”

mets_rccola_can2.jpgRC Cola’s association with the Mets continued into the 2000s, but ended by the time the last days of Shea rolled around (hence the Pepsi Porch at their new ballpark). I would lament this fact, but considering RC Cola is now owned by Cadbury Schweppes, they’re not exactly a mom and pop outfit, either.

Plus, I don’t wanna be one of those people who complains about the merits of essentially interchangeable junk food brands. The Wife and I once snagged fantastic seats for a Mets game, and sat next to a guy who wouldn’t shut up all night about how he hated it when Shea stopped serving Kahn’s hot dogs. I was too nice to tell the guy to leave me alone, plus he seemed like he might be borderline autistic.But my point is, if you can help it, don’t be that guy. Nostalgia’s great, being trapped in the past isn’t.