Last June, I wrote a piece about Chris Carter’s last Yankees at-bat from the perspective of Yankees fans. In the background you can see a fan I reference as “Neon Man.” This week, I learned he is actually named KP Watershed. He goes by Keith, and is a “food safety & quality systems manager” who is trying to attend every Yankees home game in 2018. I noticed him because of his distinctive neon shirts throughout the 2017 season.
Unable to explain why he did this, I just thought it an oddity. This year, though, he went mainstream when his shirt, “Don’t Boo Stanton” attracted media attention and comments from the booth. He also wore a shirt mocking Brian Dozier’s hitting streak coming into Yankee Stadium. Luckily, after this, I got a chance to speak with him and pick his brain over what motivated him to do this.
Matt Provenzano: I stumbled across your name in the mentions of Pinstripe Alley’s Twitter account, and I’ve been watching your neon shirts for about a year now. I wrote an article about Chris Carter with your shirt in it, and I’ve been seeing that same shirt over the past year. I figured now would be a good time to ask why you do that, and what the history behind it is. If you could, just talk about your background and why you started going to games.
KP Watershed: Sure. I started going to a lot of games last year, because I had been living more than an hour away from the city for the past several years, and I just moved to White Plains last year. I’ve told this story a lot over the past weekend and it doesn’t get any less weird every time I tell it. Do you remember the Marlins guy? You know, the Marlins Man who wears the orange?
MP: Yeah, of course.
KP: I had seen him a few times, and I knew that he was going to be there on Derek Jeter Day. Knowing that he was going to come in his Marlins orange, it bothered me that someone was so declaratively not a Yankees fan, and not representing Derek Jeter fans in the way I would have wanted them to be. So during that game I tried to outshine him, pretty close up to the front row, and I wore that same neon yellow shirt, and I wrote on that one, because it was Mother’s Day, “Thank you Derek, and Mom.”
A lot of people watched that game, and people in my life who knew I went to a lot of games and were looking out for me thought it was so much easier to spot me on TV. In particular, there was a bartender at the Stadium, and at that time I was trying to get her phone number. She also got a kick out of me on TV in the yellow shirt. I was very on the fence over whether to keep doing it, because I don’t like Marlins Man, and I get that people could see it’s me being a jerk and making it all about myself, and I totally get that, because you’re there to watch the Yankees and not me, but it’s fun, people like it, people reacted to it, and then it kind of evolved from there.
I didn’t wear them to every game last year—I only had three neon shirts—so it was for when Marlins Man would be there, mostly. Last year I went to 54 games, which blew away my previous records, and it was such an amazing season. Coming in to this year, I’m trying to go to every home game. We’ll see if that happens. I got a couple more yellow shirts, and I had thought about putting words on them again. Have you ever seen 30 Rock? There was a character Frank that wore a different hat in every episode, so that was something I had been thinking of. The first one I wore was, “Put A-Rod In Monument Park.”
MP: Yes, I saw that one. I also saw the “Don’t Boo Stanton” one, as well as the recent one that I wanted to ask you about, the shirt on Brian Dozier’s hitting streak. What exactly was it about Dozier, or was it just playful ribbing?
KP: It was just a topical thing; it’s DiMaggio’s streak, so I don’t think anyone with a hitting streak coming into Yankee Stadium should leave with it intact. People also made a big deal out of the Stanton one, and that was the most surreal thing I had ever done in relation to the Yankees. It was on Sportscenter, which was crazy. I don’t have them planned out, so I do like the challenge of thinking up new ones. People get a kick out of it, and I do too.
MP: Based on where you’re sitting in the Stadium, it just so happens to be the exact right position where the camera angle from the first base side catches you on the third base side. Was that intentional, or just fortuitous?
KP: It was... partly intentional.
MP: [laughs] Alright. My second question in regards to your seating is that I’ll see you sitting there, and then you wriggle your way behind home plate. How do you manage that considering how strict the ushers are? Or are they wise to it, and let you do it anyway?
KP: Oh, they’re definitely not letting me do it. They totally wised up to it. It’s the same ushers game after game, so I know them pretty well at this point. But you’re right. The guy who’s always behind home plate, Joel—an incredible guy, who has gone to every game at the new Stadium—is the one who covers those seats. Part of the reason I like baseball so much is the game within a game, and one of them is trying to get behind home plate. While in the old Stadium the whole section was connected, the moat now separates the Legends section from the rest. But if you’re seated in another Legends section, and they’re 50% empty behind home plate, you do have some ability to move up. When you see the seats empty for five innings, and you’re a paying customer, it puts the ushers in a position where they tolerate it to a point. So it became kind of a cat-and-mouse game. They get a kick out of it, and they’re just trying to do their job.
MP: Does that mean you’re going to stick with your current seat now that you’ve found a sweet spot with the camera?
KP: It’s not just the camera. You also get toss up’s from the field, and you can also see right into the Yankees dugout. I’d love to be on the other side, but those are almost always sold out or full, with less freedom to move around.
MP: So the next time Marlins Man comes to town, which I’m assuming will be a Sunday night game, will you try to squeeze your way behind home plate? Or do you want to stake yourself out as an entity unto yourself?
KP: I’m not looking for a confrontation with him. He recently blocked me on Twitter, and his recent Derek Jeter spiel is such bullshit. I’ve said my piece to him, and whether he knows me or whether he thinks I’m a random Yankees fan, he doesn’t want to engage any further. He’s not a bad guy, and he’s problematic in some ways, but he’s really not bad. I tried to photo-bomb him the during the second Marlins game, and it was kind of fun to get into a few. People either love him or hate him. But certainly when he’s taken the position as the number-one enemy of Derek Jeter, Yankee Stadium should be hostile territory for him. He calls Jeter a failure, makes stuff up about him, but I’m not looking to get in a fight with him.
MP: What are your opinions on Jeter’s ownership, though? While Marlins Man is very over-the-top in his criticisms, I’m sure you can agree there are issues with the way Jeter has run the franchise thus far.
KP: Yeah. As a Jeter fan, it’s tough to watch. No one can say he has done a great job from a PR perspective. It’s tough to defend trading the stars, and the Stanton negotiations, and firing the former Marlins—it definitely deserves criticism. And I don’t think Jeter is beyond criticism.
MP: So is the attitude, “That’s our guy, and we’ll criticize him?”
KP: Two things. He should always be cheered at Yankee Stadium, whether the Marlins are doing great or not. He has a number on the wall, and a plaque in monument park. If you’re an enemy of his you should feel like you’re a visitor. My other issue is that he made it out like Jeter spurned him, when the reality is that the reason he wanted to pressure the Marlins into a ten-year deal was because he wanted to backdate his checks before the new tax bill goes into effect so he could write it off. You’re not a fan if you’re making those demands and then running to the media, and I found it disingenuous.
MP: How would you model yourself as a public fan and countermeasure to a Marlins Man? Do you see a moniker or something? [laughs] Or is just, like you said, a game within a game?
KP: I’m hoping for the latter. I’m thankful it has become a thing, but I would still enjoy the games in a white t-shirt. The way I feel is that it got as big as I want it to be, and I see Marlins Man as a cautionary tale of what I wouldn’t want to become. One thing I would like to keep up is changing the phrase on my shirt every game, though. But it is obnoxiously bright, and I could even see myself seeing that and not wanting that person to make it all about themselves.
MP: I think that’s a good attitude to have. To pivot a bit: you went to a lot of games last year, and I’m sure a lot of playoff games. What’s your feeling about the team this year, and where would this land on your excited meter?
KP: Out of a ten, I’d say maybe I’m eight, only because it’s so early.
MP: Even after the game today? [laughs]
KP: I was at all the playoff games last year, and even if they got out of it in the ALDS, last year was such an incredible season, and how could you not love this team of homegrown players? My first Yankees game was in 1992, I was five years-old, so my coming-of-age were the 90’s teams. There are definitely a lot of similarities between last year and 1995 and this year being either 1996 or 1998. Bringing in Stanton really does feel like when they brought in Roger Clemens or one of those big guys in the early 2000’s. I do they think they need to add a pitcher, but we’re not going anywhere. I don’t want to say anything too overconfident and jinx it, but my expectations are as high as they’ve ever been in April of a baseball season.
MP: Last question, which we ask everyone when we interview them at PSA is: pancakes or waffles?
KP: Pancakes. I can eat an unlimited amount of pancakes when I’m hungry, and I’m a messy, sloppy, eater, so I get a lot of syrup on myself when I eat waffles. Pancakes just taste better. I know there’s a strong waffle following on the internet.
MP: Yeah, Pinstripe Alley is pretty pro-waffle, but we’ll still accept you. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.
KP: Thank you. I’ve been reading the site for years, and it never gets any less surreal, and I really appreciate being noticed. I also hope the Yankees will take notice and get more butts in those Legends seats.
MP: Definitely. If I’m there, I’ll be certain to look for you.