Ode to the Baseball Cap
by Mike Whiteman
January 5, 2020
The first baseball “cap” I had was one similar to the one pictured likely given to me by my dad, a great baseball fan who I’m sure wanted to raise his firstborn the right way. It had a short brim with a patch of baseball and embroidered “Little Slugger” on it.
I was evidently quite enamored with the headwear as I wore it constantly, though sadly it was not prophetic, as I was more of a scrappy, “punch-n-Judy” type hitter. A seed was planted though, and I’ve always had an enjoyment of baseball hats. I’ve had some fun ones, some functional ones, and some that carried great meaning.
Here’s a few of them:
Like many, I had a bad case of Olympic fever in 1984, when the games were held in Los Angeles. Names like Carl Lewis, Mary Lou Retton, and the US basketball team of Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing became parts of sporting lore. To display my enthusiasm and patriotism I went where everyone went to get their headwear…McDonalds!
This one was purchased in Fall of 1996, right after the Yankees win the World Series, their first in eighteen years. The 1996 Yankees were my first “real” World Series winner as a Yankee fan (I have memories of 1978 but as a nine-year old not too vivid). That whole postseason was so memorable and so exciting. The special “World Series” hat I saw the players wear was one I had to have, and picked it up for about $25, which was no small sum for someone working in social work in the mid-90s. Thankfully, my wife indulges/enables my hat collecting. Like many fitted wool hats, it has shrunk to the point that I’ll never be able to wear it again, but it sits proudly on my bookshelf.
When my dad passed away, and we were cleaning out his house, I came upon this one, barely used. It clearly wasn’t traditional Yankee colors but became my hat of choice for some time and was a fun reminder and connection with him. I got a lot of mileage from this one.
In 2017, I was a living Kidney Donor. At my discharge, I was given a significant list of care instructions…and a hat! They must have known the way to my heart. This particular hat is not available in the hospital gift shop.
I really enjoy hats of “old” franchises. I’ve accumulated headwear for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the St. Louis Browns, the Washington Senators and the Montreal Expos. It’s especially interesting to me the number of strangers who will just stop me here in Central Pennsylvania and comment on my Expos or Dodgers lids.
Do you have any special hat memories? If so, feel free to share below.