Taking the Party at Napoli’s to Texas

Image via Twitter

About a week ago, Cleveland Indians fans noticed something peculiar on Twitter. A once-beloved, quite-famous saying that felt like belonged to us and only us… had suddenly crossed state lines. When former Tribe first basement Mike Napoli returned to the Texas Rangers, he took Party at Napoli’s along for the ride.

Image via @108Stitches

Originally incepted by Indians fan Nate Crowe, Party at Napoli’s became a 2016 major league sensation. Within months of its first appearance, the phrase went from silly ballpark sign to a T-shirt that Indians Team Shops couldn’t keep on the shelves. A charity event followed after, along with a limited-release playoff edition, and T-shirt sales surged throughout the season. When it was all said and done, Indians fans and the Party at Napoli’s movement had raised close to $200,000 for Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

And now, it’s not “ours” anymore.

WFNY spoke with Crowe, that’s @HipsterTito to you, about Party at Napoli’s last call in Cleveland—and it’s new home in the Lonestar State.

Nate, I need you to talk me off the ledge. What is going on? Why are we suddenly seeing Party at Napoli’s on Texas Rangers’ fans?

Napoloi has a brand now. He HAS to keep to it going. Rangers fans were excited to have him back and just like their fans, the ball club was happy to have him back, too.

Last year during the launch of the original shirt, several Rangers/former teammates had bought the shirt. I guess you could say the groundwork was there with a built-in fan base.

Were you involved at all in the new iteration of the shirt? How much so?

I had some involvement, but mostly in DMs and casual conversation. Technically, because I don’t have a legal stake in the phrase or artwork, they didn’t need my permission. But, they still sought me out to get my thoughts. Eric, John, Marc, and all the folks at 108 Stitches really are stand-up people.

It’s really a cool thing that we still talk and connected again on the revival.

Totally agree. I didn’t think we’d have a chance to revisit Party at  Napoli’s. How soon after Nap became a Ranger did they reach out?

Actually, behind-the-scenes, the conversation started not too long after Nap had signed with Texas. It didn’t become a sure thing until the season started. Soon after, the Rangers started little media bits with Nap booking a party by phone with the input of his teammates.

It sounds like they’re having some success? Did I hear they’ve raised $15,000 already?

With a .156 batting average, it’s not the easiest sales pitch to a fan base. (Writer’s note: lol.)

Regardless, their fans still showed up and the shirt sold out in one day. Coincidentally, Nap hit two HRs, including a three-run walk-off the day after the release of the shirt and orders poured in. This time around, 108 is better equipped for any home-run-fueled demand!

They’ve raised $15,000 so far, in less than a week of sales, which is $15,000 more than I thought if you asked me after Game 7 last year. When you consider the $200,000 last year for the Clinic, it’s still incredible to sit back, look at the number and say “WOW.”

Judging by Twitter, you’re already back at it, filling the Jake with good spirits and plenty more of your trademark oversized (and hilarious) signs. Have any signs been a big hit so far?

Back to just being a fan! I went to Opening Day and it was a little weird doing so just to hang out with friends and no oversized signs. I’ve made a few signs but crowds haven’t been the most lively just yet. This past weekend, I did make a few signs that caught a few eyes. I’m not sure Paul Molitor was a fan of “MOLITOR WEARS DAD JEANS,” but their outfielders were during batting practice.

During the same game, I broke out the “CHRIS GIMENEZ APPRECIATION NIGHT” sign, which Indians Social caught on to and joked along. In the weeks prior, I had been talking to Chris through Twitter about making a sign for his return to Cleveland. He joked along with it and pumped his fist from the dugout when he saw the sign in the Corner. Chris was great to have here… he was the only one who could keep Bauer in line, so the sign had some truth to it.

I’ve also made a “GOAT, PARROT, TACOS, AND BEER” checklist sign that seems pretty fitting for Fridays, so I’ll keep bringing that one back.

Any exciting plans in the works for this season? Anything you can tell us?

Not really from a rally cry at this point: I figure if something comes along, we’ll jump on it. That’s what made last year so much fun… it was organic and all intended to be positive. People still bring up variations of “Fiesta at Edwin’s,” which I can assure will not be something I’ll do. Somebody else can run with that if they want.

In the interim, I’ve spent quite a bit of time doing additional fundraising for Cleveland Clinic Children’s through the great people I met during the Party at Napoli’s run. I’ll be participating in this year’s VeloSano ride with a team from the Clinic, and I’m currently raising money/seeking donations for my 50 mile ride. I’m at roughly 75% of my pledge goal with two months to go. I will ride in honor of my aunt who passed away at 48 after a bout with cancer.

The more involved I am, the more personal it’s become.

My wife and I had the opportunity to attend the annual Cleveland Clinic Children’s fundraiser gala a few weeks ago, and by chance we ran into Hawken Hunt’s parents, Bob and Shannon. Hawken is the child I visited back in October two months after his Burkitt’s leukemia diagnosis. Since that visit, Hawken is now in remission and growing every day as a healthy one-year-old boy. It was hard not to get choked up over what’s happened since we last saw each other, but it was such a great feeling to see them in high spirits after all they had gone through. They’ve decided to take that experience and start a foundation targeted towards parents and families facing similar medical hardships. We’re working together to get a sticker for my VeloSano bike helmet to represent their efforts with lifEXTRAORDINARY.

That is wonderful news and you are a tremendous human, as is Hawken. Speaking of tremendous, are the original/better Party at Napoli’s shirts still available?

Unfortunately, the originals are now a thing of the past and no longer printed. There may still be a few remnants left in the team shop, but it’s been officially replaced on the 108 Stitches website.

Do you still wear yours?

Absolutely! They make for great shirts at the gym or beach because the material is breathable… and when feeling a bit nostalgic. While it may not apply to the current landscape of Cleveland sports, it still represents one of the more fun times we’ve had in recent years.

Nate, I couldn’t agree more.

You can purchase the new Party at Napoli’s shirt, which benefits the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy, here.

And, you can donate to Nate Crowe’s VeloSano page here.