By Chris Colton
Sports Editor, CBSNewYork.com
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mike Piazza will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame before Sunday’s season finale, and 860 blue-shirted die-hards– known as “The 7 Line Army” — will be there to revel in the proceedings.
But make no mistake. Even if there was nothing special planned at the stadium, the “Army” would be there en masse.
“We’d be doing it anyway,” said Darren Meenan, founder of Mets-themed apparel brand The 7 Line. “It’s just an extra bonus that it’s also Piazza’s induction.”
Game 162 will mark the eighth total outing for Meenan’s group and fifth at Citi Field, where he routinely fills three sections in the outfield that make up the Big Apple Reserved.
They’ll be easy to spot. Each member of “The 7 Line Army” will head through the gates wearing a blue T-shirt that reads “Loyal ‘Til The Last Out.”
“We really just like to have fun out there,” Meenan told CBSNewYork.com. “That’s kind of contagious throughout the stadium. We don’t have that much to cheer about right now. But we have fun just being loyal and dedicated, and like the shirt says, ‘Loyal ‘Til The Last Out.’ ”
The Mets also had Meenan & Co. in the stands for last year’s final home game, providing a unique backdrop for R.A. Dickey’s 20th win of the season. It also happened to be the first ever outing for The 7 Line.
This year they’ve got Piazza.
What about 2014? Meenan promised they’ll show up — no matter what.
“Oh, without a doubt,” he said. “No matter what the outcome. We could be 20 games out of first and nothing going on for the last game of the season, we’re definitely going to try to pack the place out.”
Meenan, who sells a “Retire 31” line, said a small design of Piazza’s number was printed on the back of the special-event tees. And there’s more in store for the franchise’s beloved catcher.
“I have a bunch of fun banners and signs, things I’m going to bring,” he said. “I actually made a three-and-a-half-foot circle of the ‘Retire 31’ as if it was gonna be on the wall. But I’m just gonna hold it up.”
He’s also bringing this:
Some fans are hoping for a surprise retirement of No. 31 — a la the Yankees and Mariano Rivera’s No. 42. Meenan doesn’t see it happening.
“I’d say there’s zero chance of that,” he said. “But I’d love to see it out there.”
As for his brand, Meenan said The 7 Line’s annual calendar is in the works, and its Black Friday sale will go on as usual. He’s also planning to do a second straight Opening Day outing and wants to bring at least 600 fans to a Mets-Giants game in San Francisco next June.
This season, he brought around 500 members of “The 7 Line Army” to Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Three-hundred invaded Yankee Stadium for a Subway Series game.
Sunday’s outing proved to be the most popular, with all 860 tickets gobbled up in a record 2:45.
“If this is any indication of what’s to come, if this team turns the page and starts winning, we’re going to sell out in like 15 minutes,” Meenan said.
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