They saw two Statue of Liberty replicas, one with the American League teams painted on it, the other with the NL clubs. They quickly snapped photos of the replicas, which are 8 1/2-feet tall like the other 40 that began to be distributed around the city Friday, most with one team's logo on them.
The commotion surrounding the statues' arrival -- the AL one was placed at Liberty Island and the NL version on Ellis Island -- including the photos, the smiles and the searches for a favorite team's logo -- has become common since Friday.
"When we started to deliver some of these Friday, we opened the flatbed truck, and people started running to the truck with their cameras, taking pictures of the statues," said Maureen Mason, the licensing director for Major League Baseball who led the project. "They'd ask, 'Are you in charge of this? Where's the Cincinnati Reds statue? Where's the Indians statue going to be?'"
The statues are spread around the Big Apple, in places like Times Square, Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall.
Proceeds from the AL and NL statues, which will be auctioned off, will go to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the non-profit fundraising arm of the two sites.
The process of producing the replicas began in February and ended in May, but really started when Mason bought a souvenir statue and sent it to Forever Collectibles, which sent the designs to China. The statues are made of resin, Mason said.
After all the work, the statues' locations on Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty certainly give them an impressive backdrop.
"What can be better than pairing America's favorite pastime with America's most beloved icon?" said Tommy Lasorda, former manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and a foundation board member. "And knowing this helps to support Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, where my father entered this great country, makes it even more fantastic."
The statues will be around the city until a week after the All-Star Game. Nine-inch replicas are on sale at MLB.com.
Nine-year-old Bobby Schmidgall, wearing a Jose Reyes T-shirt, was on a field trip at Ellis Island on Saturday and posed for a photo next to the NL statue and his favorite team's logo, the Mets.
Said Schmidgall, "It's cool."
Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.