A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 21, 2004
“Hit Sign, Win Suit” (Abe Stark’s Clothing Store)
A sign for Abe Stark's clothing store, placed directly under the Ebbets Field scoreboard in right-center field, told players "Hit Sign, Win Suit." Any player to hit the sign with a fly ball would get a free suit from Abe's store.

The Brooklyn Dodgers and Ebbets Field and Abe's store are all long gone now, but "Hit Sign, Win Suit" is still remembered as one of New York's greatest business promotions.

8 June 1945, Brooklyn (NY) Eagle, "Today's Profile," pg. 6, col. 4:
Abe Stark, Brownsville business and civic leader, has been giving away an average of five men's suits a year for 18 years, and has received a tremendous kick out of it. "Hit This Sign -- Win a Suit of Clothes," reads a sign painted on the right centerfield wall at Ebbets Field at the behest of Mr. Stark, which has been the lure for members of the Brooklyn Dodgers to do just that and then go around to Mr. Stark's clothing store on (1514 -- ed.) Pitkin Ave. and collect. The names of those who have hit it in the 18 years reads like a roster of the Dodgers greats.

24 May 1954, Chester (PA) Times, pg. 16, cols. 6-8:
Suitable Slugging
Hack Wilson Hit It, Too

Hit Sign, Win Suit, the invitation reads. But how? No higher than an outfielder's head, the sign is a narrow strip running along the bottom of the scoreboard in right center. Practically any ball that figures to hit it is also a ball that figures to be caught.
The sign inspired a New Yorker cartoon by George Price, who depicted an outfielder jumping for a catch in front of a billboard that said:

"Hit this sign and Abe Feldman will give you a suit absolutely FREE."

9 October 1959, New York (NY) Times, pg. 34:
He was talking with one foot on the rail in the center field grandstands staring out toward the rows of empty seats; to his right was the empty dugout, to his left the scoreboard and Abe Stark's sign: "Hit Sign, Win Suit."

4 July 1972, New York (NY) Times, pg. 20:
Abe Stark of Brooklyn, Who Led City Council, Dies
In 1914, when he was 21, Mr. Stark opened a men's furnishing store in partnership with two other young men. The next year he started his own establishment on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn's Brownsville section. From that time he became one of that borough's better-known businessmen.

In the days when the Brooklyn Dodgers were at Ebbets Field, the name Abe Stark was constantly before the public. A sign at the concrete base of the right field scoreboard proclaimed that any batter who hit the sign on the fly would receive a free suit at Mr. Stark's Pitkin Avenue clothing store. "Hit Sign, Win Suit," the sign said.

One famous cartoon showed Mr. Stark, glove in hand, standing in front of the sign to cut down on free suits.

12 August 1985, New York (NY) Times, pg. C9:
Situated at the base of the scoreboard in right-center field, nearly 400 feet from home plate, the sign stood approximately 4 feet high and was 40 feet wide. It was established there in 1931, when Abe Stark, a dedicated Dodger fan, rented the space in order to advertise the clothing store his family owned from 1922-59 on Pitkin Avenue in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Stark, who became a politician and served as New York City Council president twice and Brooklyn Borough president three times, pledged that any player who hit his sign on the fly would receive a free suit from his store. Much to his chagrin, the first one to do it - and the second one as well - was Mel Ott of the rival New York Giants.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Tuesday, December 21, 2004 • Permalink

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