"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, December 30, 2013

74. Neal Kaplan

Queens, New York · Industrial and Labor


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

I am currently Vice President, Deputy General Counsel for the New York Mets. I work with the General Counsel and two other outstanding lawyers on all legal matters for the organization. In addition to doing work for the team and the Mets business operations, we handle legal issues for our home ballpark, Citi Field, our spring training facility in Florida, our training complex in the Dominican Republic, and the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team and its ballpark in Coney Island. Significant matters that I’ve worked on since joining the Mets in 2003 include the creation of the SNY television network; the financing, construction, and operation of Citi Field; the sale of minority interests in the team; and baseball salary arbitration. I live in Queens, New York with my beautiful wife and high school sweetheart Ginny; our children Samantha, 9; and Will, 6; and our cat Maz, 13.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

Without question, graduation day. Getting through Cornell was such hard work, often under difficult circumstances, and I remember having such a feeling of accomplishment at reaching graduation in one piece. I was fortunate enough to be one of the ILR degree marshals and help to lead my school into the football stadium, and the first moment I saw the stands full of graduates’ families, friends and loved ones, including my own, is one of my most cherished memories.

Which Cornell classmates do you keep in touch with?

My three closest friends are all Cornell class of 1995: Rob Friedman, David Quigley, and Jonathan Perry. Rob and I have been friends since freshman year in ILR, I met Jon right at the end of senior year, and I didn’t meet David until law school. All three of us went to Harvard Law School, but I think that something about the Cornell experience, or maybe something about the kind of person who would go to Cornell, is the same for all of us, and is at the heart of our friendships.

What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?

Aside from bring the heaviest coat, gloves, boots, and hat you can find? Take advantage of the opportunity to take classes in different schools, and to meet people whose interests are very different than your own. I was in ILR, but my transcript includes classes like Intro to Acting, Psychology & Law, Ancient Seafaring, Art from 1940 to 1990, and Science in Western Civilization. I tried to make the most of Ezra’s “any person, any study” philosophy, and I’m glad I did.