By Phil Hecken
About two weeks ago, the
Godfather of Uni Watch well-respected and never opinionated Rick “Ricko” Pearson approached me with an idea for a weekend post. Here’s what he said:
A fun weekend entry might be to pick a half dozen or so posters you know have an interest (and knowledge) in MLB uni history and ask them to identify—without thinking too much, strictly a knee jerk reaction—their two favorite MLB hats of all time. Pick one from the National League and one from the American League. No “ties”, no “just can’t decide”. One each and that’s it. Let them, briefly, say why.
Then open it up for others to post theirs.
Why? Angels were a new team, the hat logo is elegant, the colors were, by ’61 standards, bright (with the red visor and all; not many teams did such a thing) and the halo was of course unique.
Cubs was part of the whole package of the switch to pins, making the chest logo round, adding white to the hats and more color to the roads.
So I took that sage advice, sent out a few feelers, and got more responses back than I had anticipated. Seems like a lot of you folks have two favorite caps. Some were quite concise in their choices and descriptions … others were a bit more, shall we say, verbose. But there were no parameters and there are no right or wrong answers, and in the end, it’s really just the two cap choices that matter. So, in no particular order, let’s have a look-see at what several of the UWers feel are their personal faves:
Jeremy Brahm: 1995 Seattle Mariners for the AL. For me it is based on the change of ownership from an outsider to an outsider with local ties, plus a team’s first playoff appearance. When you think of a change in ownership and what it can mean to the franchise, the purchase of the Mariners by Nintendo forever changed baseball in Seattle and the Northwest. The northwest forest green (teal) brim, dark blue cap with the silver S and the nautical compass rose showed that the franchise was looking past the days of losing. The empty stadium nights in the Kingdome, good players being traded to better teams, was nearly over, but it took the 1995 Mariners team and fans on a wild ride, from a huge 13 game deficit, to a division lead (which they lost), to the one-game playoff, a comeback on the Yankees in an epic series. It was all there in teal, blue and silver. I like the all dark blue hat, but for me I’ll never forget the teal brims.
As for the NL, the 1981 Expos three panel. I always felt that the Montreal Expos never got the respect that they deserved because they always developed good prospects, too bad they got better elsewhere. The three colored M was so distinct and the matching three panels also made it stand out. At least you always knew, that’s the Expos when you looked at that hat in the French colors for a French speaking city. Sadly, the Expos lost to the Dodgers in the NL championship series or we’d have had our first “international” World Series game.
Brinke “=bg=” Guthrie: Gotta be: 1972-80 Atlanta Braves and 1984 San Diego Padres I chose both because of the contrasting panel in the front. I wore both of these (the Braves was helmet only, no cap) even while I was living in Cincinnati during the Big Red Machine years.
Robert “rpm” Marshall: (who’s obviously averse to capital letters) since this is about professional baseball, i guess i have to take out my favourite hat of all time. i also might be biased about the blood and paint covered 70’s orioles chapeau that i wear in the studio, as well as the one i like even more, so i will take those are out.
i am a big fan of the sans logo soutache caps, so for the american league i would say my favourite is the 1940-45 st louis browns. here is a version i tried to colourize, and i would love it if someone brought that look back. i just love the triple layered soutache, and it would look great using any colours. my only stipulation would be that the soutache absolutely always must drop from the squatchee on all six seems, not 5, it looks just looks ridiculous when it is incomplete.
i was tempted, because of my disdain for capital letters, to go with the bravos of the 70’s. but i decided to go with another soutache cap, and since i love the richness of a deep Burgundy i went with this national league cap. but that’s buck o’neil, he never played in the national league. wrong, the monarchs played in the negro national league, and wore they wore this hat.
Mike “Mike2” Styczen: I’ll play — For the National League — Expos pinwheel. There’s never been another cap like it. And for the American League — Milwaukee Brewers road ball-in-glove. The bright bold colours, yellow panel, and wacky logo. Great idea Phil (and Rick).
Johnny “Johnny F” Flanagan: My man Phil! Thanks for dropping me the email. I think this topic will make a great weekend entry. As you probably remember, I’m a full fledge cap-o-phile and hat collector, so this is right up my alley. I was also worked for Lids/Hatworld Corp. for a few years… which is both a good thing AND a bad thing (have you seen some of the shit on that site lately?!? Good lord!)
My two favorite caps are as follows: AL: 1985 Milwaukee Brewers (Weird that the AL team I picked is NL now… and actually, most of the hats that came to me first, right off the top of my head, were NL). Reason: Well, obviously the “M & B Glove” logo is fantastic. Probably the greatest baseball hat logo of all time. Throw in a yellow front panel, with a blue brim and side panels, and you have an absolutely amazing 80’s-style cap. Blue and yellow works! I own the Mitchell & Ness version, and it looks great.
For the NL: Red/White/Blue Montreal Expos hat (Gary Carter era!). Reason: I love this hat. White front panel, red side panels, blue back panel. Great colors, awesome logo. I wish there was a way we could eliminate the Nationals unis, and get back to the old school Expos look. The all blue Expos hat is really nice (just love that logo), but the tri-color panel design is amazing. I’m sure some people hate my choices … but going with the “classic” Red Sox/Yankees/Cubs just isn’t as fun for me. I guess being a little kid watching baseball in the 80’s has left quite an impression!
Stuart “Stuby” Greenlee: Hey Phil, it’d be my pleasure to contribute. So here we go without too much deliberation. National League: 70s Houston Astros (Early) and late. Orange cap, navy star, white H. Pretty unique when introduced. Closest I ever got to owning one was the helmet giveaway at the Astrodome in ’78. That was a beautiful cap. I don’t think it changed much (maybe a slight shade difference) from the beginning to the end of its run.
American League: Gotta go with the classic English D of the Tigers cap (home). Timeless, yet underappreciated. Take it easy, Stu.
Mike Engle: National League: Houston Astros, end of Astrodome era, all navy with metallic gold star. As a young boy who started watching baseball in the mid ’90s, this is my default mental image of the Astros. It was a NICE look. Navy and metallic gold, so nice together, it’s the only credit I’ll give to Notre Dame (I otherwise HATE Notre Dame sports, though it’s hard to diss the university). And I really liked how the gold star reappeared on the jerseys. Definitely traditional enough (yes, you can make white at home and grey on the road look nice), yet really cool and cutting-edge without trying too hard (for instance, the inaugural Devil Rays tried WAY too hard).
American League: Oakland A’s road hat, as currently worn, yellow logo on all forest hat. I really like the colors, and more than that, I love the way the fancy A is written. Maybe there’s a subliminal memory coming back from my childhood: my parents always wanted me to get A’s in school, while every young boy fantasizes about being a major league ballplayer. I was no exception. I’ll bet that cap was a representation of our dreams, combined.
NOTES: For this exercise, the Astros cap was a MUCH more obvious pick than the A’s. As these ARE knee-jerk reactions, I defaulted to caps I could have seen on TV as a kid. I could have probably come up with an old-school cap as a favorite, but I didn’t think to think about past generations.
(Call Me Mr.) Teebz: The 1901 Baltimore Orioles because they did it with just the “O”. No screwed-up apotrophes. It’s just a simple “O”, and it’s gorgeous.
The 1978 Milwaukee Brewers always rang true for me. I love the ball-in-glove, and the yellow and blue are Yount/Molitor/Seitzer in the Brew Crew’s heyday.
Doug “Kek” Keklak: NL: Black Pirates pillbox — growing up, this was the hat I knew. Yes, my Buccos wore a gold one too, but I was a big fan of the black pants/yellow jersey/black cap of the mix-and-match era sets.
AL: Oakland A’s solid green with yellow A’s — I’ve always liked the A’s color scheme but never cared much for yellow-billed hats (they tend to get dirty from constant handling) so when the A’s started using this hat, I bought myself an adjustable model on the cheap. Although the A’s went with a solid green cap with the A’s in white, I feel the hat is more aesthetically pleasing with the yellow A’s.
Paul “Pretty Boy Paulie” Soto: NL: 1957 Cubs — Elegant & clean design! The white satin stripes just add so much intrigue. Just so classy!
AL: 1975 Orioles — Pinwheel goodness! Awesome colors and you can’t argue with the smilin’ Oriole. Iconic cap, it has so character.
Timothy “TimmyB” Brulia: Here’s mine and again STRICTLY off the top of my head …
1. Cincinnati Reds 1961-1966 homes. Yes, the “ice cream” era. These caps stood out so far from all the others. They worked perfectly for me. When they changed to the all red caps in 1967, even though I was just 9 years old, it truly broke my heart. They basically looked just like every other team. Not even the KC A’s white shoe break out could hold it off.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates Mid 1970-1975. This remains my team (gotta give me some cred for sticking with a horrible team). This was a unique cap, apart from the 1971 Padre road caps, the only team to feature a sort of old gold ball cap in MLB history. Easy to draw, and very sleek. Looked really sharp on the first full scale double knit unis in MLB history.
Others…Original Expos cap, Pilots, Angels, gray Reds caps (61-66), early Milwaukee Braves caps, Orioles white front caps (c.1975-1988), Red White Sox caps, Mid-50’s Indians caps, Houston Colt .45s caps, Early 20’s Yankee white pinstriped caps, White Philly A’s caps from 20’s & 30’s and I think early 40’s, Browns logoless caps from WW2 era, logoless Cardinals Gashouse Gang caps, Yellow Pirates pillbox caps (1977-1984), Astros original open star caps from early 1990’s. Hope this helps, LI Phil!!
Ryan “Ry Co 40” Connelly: 1979 pirates pill-box WITH the stargell stars! A pretty iconic hat. A championship hat. I was going to go with the yellow, but the black just looks sharp!
And second … a blast from my past… for starters, if you lined up every major league hat (past or present) on a wall and i knew nothing of the game or its history… and you told me to pick out 1 hat… Chief Wahoo it is! might be my favorite logo in all of sports! So much that i love about this hat! I had maybe JUST gotten into watching or following baseball and of course I loved my Pirates … Philly and Mike Schmidt were my #1 favorites though. But then there was this goofy-ass team, with this goofy-ass logo, playing in this old-ass stadium just 2 hours north. My dad drove a truck and delivered food around the tri-state area for work, and I can’t remember if I had asked him, or if he had just bought me an Indians hat because we were talking about them. but there he was one day coming home from work with this indians hat for me. We made the trip up to Cleveland’s old Municipal Stadium a good handful of times, and when me and my family would make the trip up it was always special. baseball with the family! American League! A WHOLE different ballpark! WHOLE different teams/cities! It was like taking a vacation away from home AND the national league, and there he was — no matter how bad the team was, Chief Wahoo always had that smile on his face! It’s funny because it was like perfectly at the time the movie was released. So that just fueled my love for the indian’s hat that much more.
P.S. I remember the logo being much bigger on the hat in the 90’s though.
Jay “Shaftman” Palmer: Hey Phil, This sounds like fun. American League: 1965-1970 California Angels. I’ve always loved details in uniforms that not only were unique, but were there for a purpose. The halo around the top of the Angels caps (which they have had in several incarnations) have always struck me as that type of muti-faceted design (unlike the new Jag uniforms which are “unique” but serve no purpose). And while I loved the ’61 design (like Ricko), I always though about the Angels as a “California” team and not an “LA” one, so my vote goes to the one with the CA instead of LA.
National League: 1962-present (on some days) New York Mets. Yes, it’s seems as if I’m a “homer” but I really do appreciate the muti-faceted design of the Mets blue cap. Like the team itself it was born from the departure of the Dodgers and Giants and the cap was so simply put together but still honors the National League in new york. It is strickly a Dodger cap (minus the white B) with the orange interlocking NY from the Giants. Simple, yes, but it continues the timeline of national league baseball in New York.
Jonathon “WarDamnEagle” Binet: Phil, here are my entries: American League – Toronto Blue Jays ’77-’93 hat / ’08-present alternate. Why? I’m a child of the 80s; that’s when I started playing baseball, collecting baseball cards, following baseball, etc. So I guess I’m influenced by that decade to some degree. I grew up a Braves fan, so I really only followed the National League. There were no AL teams anywhere near where I grew up, either (Alabama). They may as well have been playing in Europe, that’s how far away the AL seemed. Most AL teams sported your basic lettered caps. The few exceptions: Mariners’ trident, Orioles’ cartoon bird/ornithologically correct bird, Brewers’ ball-in-glove, Indians’ Chief Wahoo, and the Blue Jays bird. I guess that Blue Jays hat just stuck out to me because it wasn’t cartoonish or made to be lifelike. It was just this outside-the-box, artsy design. It wasn’t too garish, and the hat logos in those days weren’t as 3-D, so the logo didn’t unnecessarily jump out at you. It was just right. It’s a logo that they were dumb to get away from. It has a strong tradition. I’m glad it’s come back as a home alt cap.
National League – Atlanta Braves ’68-’71 road hat / ’08 road alternate / ’09 road hat Why? I knew the Braves had once worn solid navy hats back in the 60’s. When the team switched to the retro-inspired uniforms in 1987, I was ecstatic. I thought they were the greatest uniforms in baseball (and I still do). But I always wanted them to add the solid navy hat because I thought it would make a great road hat. I really liked the way Cleveland used a red-billed home hat and solid-navy road hat when they switched to a retro-inspired look in 1994. Or how the Cardinals sported a red home hat and navy road hat. I thought the same thing could work for the Braves. I was super-excited when the Braves finally brought the solid navy cap back in 2008 as a road alternate, and as the full-time road hat in 2009. It’s a clean, simple classic design. There is no mistaking what that “A” stands for, much as the Yankees’ “NY” or the Boston “B.”
Larry “Larryb” Bodnovich: AL, I would have the Indians Wahoo cap. Red bill blue cap and wahoo. I thought I read a while back that is was one of baseball’s most popular caps. Being seen or worn everywhere. Political correctness be damned.
And NL. The Cincinnati Reds early 1960’s white cap, red bill, red C and that red piping. As a kid that cap always kind of stood out to me.
So I went with the 2 Ohio teams. I am not a Reds fan. I grew up a Pirates fan and I like them and the Indians.
Lance “Squiddie” Smith: I may have overthought this. National League: St Louis blue and red cap of the 40s and early 50s. It might be sacrilege to choose a Cardinals cap that isn’t all red, but this is one of the best multi-color caps and I’m a big fan of the way they put together the StL. Here’s a painting of Stan Musial wearing it on the cover of Time.
American League: Kansas City green and white cap of about 1963-67. Green and white is the great underused baseball color schemes. Not just for St. Patrick’s Day. Again, the meshing of the K and the C to form a logo that’s both intricate and recognizable. Jim Nash on the cover of Sports Illustrated. (The cap is darker in this photo than the current reproductions.)
And finally, we have this from James “JTH” Huening: There are lots of old designs that I’m really fond of. I’ve got a late-40s St. Louis Browns cap with a white crown, brown brim and orange logo. I also have a 1935 road alt (supposedly) Tigers cap that has a white crown with orange piping and blue brim/logo . Have I ever mentioned that I love the color orange and white baseball caps? Because I do. And the StL and Old English D logos are so great.
Damn, those are both AL teams. I guess I’ll go with the Browns as #1 and give me the Cubs 1914 road caps as my NL team. Why? Because I’m a Cubs fan and that’s the best cap they’ve ever worn.
As for designs I’ve actually seen on the field in my lifetime, my NL choice is the Pirates’ late-’70s pillbox. I have a really tough time deciding between the gold with black trim and the solid-black, though … But since there are no ties, I’ll go with the gold crown model as my favorite. Why do I like these so much? Dunno. I guess it’s a zeitgeist thing. But I’d have to say that it’s attributable to the uniqueness of them, the mid-to-late-’70s bold colors/design, I was just starting to get into baseball, the Stargell Stars, and the fact that the team wearing them was pretty damn good.
My AL choice would have to be the Brewers’ ball-in-glove. Like many people, I just thought it was a really crappy-looking glove with a ball in it until the “hidden” M and B were pointed out to me by my dad. Genius! Well, to a 9-year-old, it was genius. Plus, I loved the colors. Again, a zeitgeist thing.
For current designs, I’d go with the Cardinals’ home cap as my NL best. The colors and logo on the it are just fantastic. And they should wear them on the road. I think this guy might agree.
My AL pick is the White Sox. The stark black-and-white simplicity is offset so well by the “fancy” interlocking Old English S-o-x. Don’t you think so, Ambiorix Burgos?
Well. There you have it. Lots of opinions, lots of caps. And man, LOTS of love for the Brewers’ “Ball in Glove.” Could this be the unofficial offical cap of Uni Watch?
What do you UWers think of our panel’s selections? What are your two favorite caps? Why?
My thanks to everyone who responded to my ‘survey.’ If your comments didn’t appear here, it’s either because you failed to reply to my call or I never sent you one. You know who you are. What’s that? You want my two favorite caps? I hadn’t even thought about it. Maybe by the end of the day I’ll come up with a couple.
This and That: We all know the AFL will be rocking the throwbacks this coming season. The 1963 Oakland Raiders are one such team. In a feat of detective work that would make Ricko proud, this article debunks the “1963” claim. … Here’s some more on da Raidah’s throwbacks … “Manny got busted for what?” … Look at this face — you wouldn’t want to take a club to that would you? Of course not. But the Canadians, upset by an EU decision to ban seal products, have proposed that Canadian athletes wear uniforms made of seal pelts at the 2010 Winter Olympics — shockingly, Games organizers have rejected the idea. … Lets go, while we’re young! … Following up on that AFL throwback theme, the Kansas City Chiefs are throwing back to the The 1962 Dallas Texans. Here’s a closer look at that. … Manram’s old high school uses a fairly familiar logo — I smell a lawsuit … And the Bills will also be throwing back four times this coming season. … *Note to hurdles organizers: fix drainage* … Are you patriotic? Do you respect the uniform? … Oh snap! … You guys all follow the USL right? The Portland Timbers and SolarWorld, one of the largest solar energy companies in the world, announced today a new multi-year partnership that will feature SolarWorld as the official jersey sponsor for the Timbers U-23s, the organization’s new development team. But you probably knew that already … Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame … Speaking of sports nobody cares about, the Bay Area’s pro female soccer team cut ticket prices by 25 percent for the remainder of the season, in response to no one showing up for the games. … Are those color-coordinated headphones, Kobe? … Man — this is just wrong. “The 9- and 10-year-olds didn’t have uniforms. The California company parents paid to make the uniforms never delivered and never returned the money.” … Ah but don’t despair, because there’s good news following bad news when it comes to unis … HAHAHAHA — dude, you’re wearing a Louis Vuitton man purse — you wuss … Bit of sad news yesterday, when the baseball world lost Joltin’ Joe’s brother, the Little Professor … And the Sawks remembered him before the game … Got Milk? — SI features Danica in this article where we find out just why “I definitely would like the milk at the end of the month,”, among other things … Even when you overslide the base and get tagged out, Stirrups>Pajamas … You’ve probably already seen the Super Bowl & Pro Bowl logos, but just in case you didn’t, here’s the story … Someone help me out here: Is this the first time this season the Twins are wearing this uni? … Still more soccer news: Lawsuit accuses Rowdies of trademark infringement … Somebody robbed the Glendale train and they made off with the ‘Yotes — maybe … What’s better than free cable? this … It’s that time of the
month year again … Welcome to the bigs, kid … and finally … that’s no bull.
Enjoy your Saturday folks.