If you can remember all the way back to last spring, you might recall that I took up an interest in a Flyers' fan seated behind the net who held up lots of different signs and always managed to get photographed by the Associated Press. The interesting part of the situation was that he had an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World, or to those of you over the age of 25, actor William Daniels who played the part of KITT on Knight Rider.
Anyway, thanks to some amazing journalism -- and I mean no sarcasm whatsoever there -- from Bill Fleischman of PhiladelphiaFlyers.com, we now know the true identity of the Sign Guy. He is a teacher in Willingboro, New Jersey named Dave Leonardi. Sadly, it appears as though he is not and has no relation to one William Daniels (but the resemblance is still unbelievable!).
However, I still admire Sign Guy -- or Sign Man, whatever -- for his commitment to his duties. He's been doing it since 1972 and apparently brings 100 signs to each game. 100!
Leonardi brings about 100 signs to each game. He has about 300 more at home in the Trenton area. Each sign is 19-by-22-inches. Some of his sign ideas are derived from listening to what the fans say. “I think the signs have been accepted because they reflect what most people are thinking,” he said.
100 signs? How do you carry that many? And is this some sort of weird construction paper fetish we're dealing with? Gah. I have so many unanswered questions!
Fleischman provides a lot of different stories about Sign Guy and on the whole they're pretty boring. I guess that's what happens when we're talking about a professional arena sign maker. Not quite the most exciting job. But hey, Bobby Orr knows who he is. That's not something most of us can't say.
During the 1979 Stanley Cup finals matching Montreal and the Fred Shero-coached New York Rangers, Leonardi had done some work for “Hockey Night in Canada.” He was sleeping on the couch in a “Hockey Night” suite in a hotel near Madison Square Garden. One morning, Orr arrived for a production meeting. Leonardi heard someone say, “Sign Man, wake up.” Looking up, Leonardi saw Orr.
“I thought, `I’m being awakened by Bobby Orr,’" Leonardi said.
A wake up call from Bobby Freaking Orr. That sounds way cooler than it should.