My most recent meeting with Stan Lee occurred on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, when Lee came to AT&T Park in San Francisco for Superheroes and Comics Night. My son Russ Stanley, who is Senior Vice-President of Ticket Sales for The San Francisco Giants, called me in advance and invited my wife Erica and I to be there that evening. We arrived early enough at AT&T that Russ was able to take us to meet Lee for a private moment before the late-afternoon Question & Answer Session began.
I reminded Lee of our 1974 meeting and ranted on for a while about how big a fan I had been of his 1950s line of Atlas comic books. In fact, I was able to reveal to him for the first time that one of my favorite artists in the Atlas war and horror comics had been an artist by the name of Russ Heath. Lee began his own rant about Heath’s excellent artwork, and I reminded him of how memorable Heath was in handling the comic book series Sea Devils.
I had especially been impressed, I told Lee, with the way in which Heath had written his name in the opening panels of his stories. The R U S S spread of letters . . . The H E A T H spread of letters. It was at that moment that I revealed to Lee for the first time that my wife and I had named our son Russ, after Russ Heath. Not Russell, just plain Russ. The way Heath had spelled it in his splash panels.
And so I told Stan Lee that the senior vice president of ticket sales standing at my side, the very man who had sneaked me into the room to chat with him, had been named after an Atlas comic-book artist. It was a true moment of revelation. Russ Heath . . . Russ Stanley.
Stan Lee beamed, shaking Russ’ hand anew. Isn’t it amazing how comic books can have an ever-lasting impact on our lives?
Ooops, not quite. Hold it. Don’t leave yet. I want to thank Rocky Dudum, who is the Giants’ Marketing Coordinator for Special Events, for filling me in on all the pre-game Stan Lee events that have been taking place at AT&T Park over the past few years. According to Rocky, “The Giants collaborated with Marvel for the 2016 season, and rolled out a formal partnership. It was one of the first times that a major league baseball team had a formal promotional partnership in place. Additionally, and more of a fun fact, when the Giants played the New York Mets in April 2016, Hunter Pence visited Marvel headquarters in New York and engaged with multiple artists, executives, etc.”
Rocky went on to fill me in with additional information. That night I met Lee at the ballpark had been his first event with the San Francisco Giants, known as Heroes & Comics Night. Lee had participated in a pre-game Question & Answer Session. A poster hailing the event was distributed to VIP attendees. Here is that Stan Lee Experience poster:
Additionally, there was a short feature/promo video that SFG Productions created entitled Stan Lee Did It. It’s very amusing and you will enjoy it:
The next event, now known as The Stan Lee VIP Experience, occurred on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Once again Stan Lee participated in a pre-game Question & Answer Session, and then threw out the Ceremonial First Pitch. A limited number of Stan Lee Vinyl Figures were handed out to VIP attendees; and a custom print from pitcher Humberto Ramos, involving Lee, was also distributed to VIP attendees.
The third appearance involving Stan Lee occurred on May 9, 2015. There was a historic Question & Answer Session and Lee proclaimed “Play Ball!” to get the evening’s game started. Stan Lee Bobbleheads were handed out to VIP attendees and a custom print from J. Scott Campbell involving Stan Lee was given to VIPs.
The most recent appearance occurred on May 7 of this year when Lee did his usual pre-game VIP appearance and then spoke to the ballpark crowd live, on the field, shortly before the game began.
ONE FINAL THANKS
My very best to Kem Easley, a member of Russ Stanley’s ticketing division, for getting me started in tracking down information about Stan Lee’s involvement with the San Francisco Giants. And yes, I want to thank my son Russ, who has now worked for the San Francisco Giants for 25 years, almost all of that time in the ticket division, for giving me an unusual painting of Stan Lee. Check it out right here:
That’s Stan Lee in the center with Giants coach Bruce Bochy on his right. Clockwise from Bochy: Sergio Romo, Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum and Hunter Pence. Again, my thanks to Rocky Dudum II for this wonderful painting.
At last. ’Nuff said.