In Search of: The Last Caps of Derby

After New Era announced last year that their Derby, NY plant would shut down in June of this year, I made it my mission to visit as many ballparks as I could to search for New Era's USA made caps before they were gone. I made it to nearly twenty professional ballparks. Unfortunately, the plague of imported caps replacing the USA-made caps was well underway. However, I did have some success. Please follow along to the story of my journey.
After attending MLB "fan fests" and memorabilia sales at the start of the year, I began the start of the 2019 season in Sacramento at the River Cats annual "Pre-Season Party" on March 3rd. I purchased their two new styles, both made in USA. The River Cats went on to become the Triple-A National Champions.
My first MLB game was with the Oakland Athletics. I found "Kelley Green" caps with the MLB 150 patch made in the USA, but in all other styles with the patch they were imported.
On April 7th, I made a trip to Orange …

Ballcaps of Interstate 5: The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip

Do you live on the West Coast of the United States and want to plan the ultimate baseball road trip? What If I told you that you could visit TEN different ballparks in the United States just by staying on one route the entire time? It's simple and easy. This article will focus on the ballparks that are located along Interstate 5.

Visiting all ten ballparks on one road trip could be quite a daunting task. You would also have to count on all teams being home, which probably won't happen. Since I live in the SF Bay Area, I broke the road trip into several trips.

Interstate 5 begins its long journey northward at the US/Mexico border in California not far south of San Diego. The first professional ballpark you will encounter is Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. The ballpark is roughly a mile from Interstate 5.

About one hundred miles up Interstate 5 north of San Diego, you'll reach Anaheim. Angel Stadium is less than a mile from I-5.
Just over thirty miles north of Anah…

Change Isn't Always a Good Thing

The Ballcap Blog is back!

I'd like to discuss the events that took place over the past year with New Era closing their plant in Derby, NY.

In November of 2018 it was announced that New Era would be closing their manufacturing plant in Derby, NY, their last US manufacturing plant. The plan was to close the plant in March of this year, but some workers stayed to do some additional work until June. The last caps made in Derby were MLB player issue caps for special events (4th of July, etc). Many looked for answers. New Era's official statement was that they no longer wanted to manufacture their own product and wanted to be more of a "brand" than a manufacturer. The MLBPA spoke out and asked New Era to keep the plant open but it was to no avail. Some blamed politics as New Era's real reason for the closure. New York state's tax incentives for the plant were expiring. Others blamed Trump's tariffs, which hit the headwear industry hard and New Era spoke out abo…

Minoring in Taco Bell

UPDATED 10/1/19

Not to toot my own horn, but I do consider myself to be the foremost expert on the history of the "bell panel" baseball cap started by the San Diego Padres, typically known as the "Taco Bell" cap. If you read my previous blogs you will notice that the shape of the front panel of the cap resembles a bell when looked at straight-on. The reason for that is because the Padres celebrate the California missions. The missions all had bells at the top of the buildings and well, so did the Padres players by donning these caps. It all makes sense.

I noticed that several minor league teams in the 70s and 80s also wore bell panel caps. Only two of them were actual Padres affiliates. Why use a bell panel when you're not a Padres affiliate? It makes no sense to me. Many have never noticed that the shape is a bell, they probably just liked the look. That's why when the Rays wear their 70s "Fauxback" uniforms that are 70s Padres rip-offs, it bothe…

An Open Letter to New Era

Dear New Era Cap Company,

I first fell in love with New Era on-field baseball caps in 1995. I was nine years-old and had recently learned how to play baseball. My parents were not into sports to say the least, so my younger brother and I learned about sports from the kids down the street and to us, baseball was our favorite. I can't remember exactly where, and what adult in my life purchased it for me, but I remember picking out my first authentic "Diamond Collection" on-field cap. It was a Chicago Cubs "Road" cap, the one with the red visor. Size 6 7/8. I remember being absolutely thrilled that I now owned one of the exact same caps that MLB stars wore on the field of play. I wore it for years until I could no longer squeeze it onto my head.

Over the course of the rest of my childhood and into my twenties I continued to collect New Era on-field caps. New caps, vintage caps, actual game used players' caps and everything in between. Now, at thirty years of a…

Mysterious Padres Taco Bell Cap Surfaces

A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from a friend and fellow collector saying that he had found an odd Padres cap that he had never seen before. This is the cap.

The caps with this style had come from a long-gone sporting goods store in Buffalo, NY (coincidentally, the home of New Era) and the elderly woman that co-owned the store sold off the deadstock that had been sitting around to someone else, who then sold some of it to my friend. Immediately we believed that this cap was made to go with the recently unveiled 1985 Padres prototype jersey, which is owned by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and was displayed at the 2016 MLB All-Star Game FanFest in San Diego.

Looks like a match, right? Turns out to be not so. I reached out to some folks in the know via Twitter, and one person that had seen the original 1985 prototype designs said "Totally different-cap that went with the Fanfest jersey was brown with a yellow interlocking italic "SD".

So there you have it. A re…

Hell Bent For Leather

I apoligize in advance for the different fonts and text sizes. I have tried to change it but it doesn't work when I do...

Ah, the leather sweatband.  A controversial topic for us baseball cap enthusiasts. Preferred by the traditionalist but derided by the casual wearer. Over the course of the last twenty-five years, leather sweatbands in baseball caps have become a rarity and have all but disappeared. However, there are still a few places were leather sweatbands can be found today.

One place where leather sweatbands can still be found is on the field of Major League Baseball. No way! Really? Yes, it's true. MLB umpires can still get leather sweatbands on their caps.

Although leather sweatbands on MLB and MiLB players caps were last seen in 1988 (with some caps possibly lingering into 1989), they have continued to be seen inside non-retail versions of umpire caps.

The leather style has also changed. The sweatbands had been the exact same kind seen inside of on-field caps since the …