Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New articles coming soon!

Thanks to all that voted on the upcoming articles I am working on. I have begun to work on more "team cap histories". I have had finals this week for school and have had to work extra so I won't have anything ready until next week unless I find time this weekend. Next week I will have much more free time. As for what teams I will profile for the team cap histories, it will have to be based on the ones I know the most about first. After I get the first one up I will finish my article on visors, and probably to another "collectors corner" since a new one is overdue.

Stay posted! Lots of articles coming in the near future! Until then, vote on the poll on the right so that I can determine which team cap history I should do first. These are the ones I can do off the top of my head the best.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Caps For Sale

People ask me all the time if any of the caps from my personal collection are for sale. I normally don't sell my caps but with this being the Holiday season and I am low on cash, I am selling a few spare caps and some others I am willing to part with. You can bid on them on eBay RIGHT HERE. Most are in new and unworn condition. If you are wondering about the screen name, it is my girlfriend's account. She shares it with me since my original account got hacked into a couple of years ago...

Also check out Ballcap Blog sponsor - a one-stop shop for sports memorabilia fans!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Game-Used Ballcap Mystery

Hello everyone and sorry for the lack of updates. I should have some more free time in the new year to dedicate to the blog. I am working on an article about the colors of the undersides of visors (aka bills/brims), so if anyone has any information that they feel might be relevant, please contact me.

Anyway, I just recently purchased an (alleged) game-used San Francisco Giants cap. Pictures are below. It is a KM Pro cap that the seller said was used by Danny O'Connell. Now first and foremost, he wasn't trying to dupe me, he simply said he had purchased it in the 1980s and the seller told him that was who used it. O'Connell had played for the Giants from 1957 (their final season in New York) and then in San Francisco in 1958 and 1959. There is just one problem; the cap has a 1970s style KM Pro tag and not a Tim McAuliffe tag like a 1950s cap would. Also, normally a game-used cap would have the player's number written in marker under the visor near the sweatband, or on the backing behind the front of the crown. Instead "Danny O'Connell" is written in marker on the back of the sweatband, and a faint "O CO" to the left of the KM Pro tag on the left side of the sweatband. The cap itself is in very well-used condition. However, what makes it believable that it may be from the 1950s is the green fabric under the visor. The Giants switched to gray sometime between 1969 and 1971. The team last used KM caps in 1976. Since the Tim McAuliffe name disappeared from KM caps in 1969, a cap with a KM tag and a green under-visor must be somewhat rare, and perhaps was only used for one season or two, 1969 and/or 1970.

Another question is why counterfeit a Danny O'Connell cap? He seems like a random player no one's ever heard of. Most likely it was for a morbid reason; O'Connell is dead, and died tragically at the age of 42 in 1969 in an auto accident (another website says it was a "coronary occlusion"), and left behind a wife and four children.

If anyone knows if the cap really could have been used by Danny O'Connell or not, please let me know, or if you have any other comments about the cap!

The front. Notice the embroidery is exactly the same as the 1976 version of the cap in the first picture of my blog "Team Cap History: The San Francisco Giants".

The inside. a vary faint "O CO" can be seen just to the left of the tag on the sweatband, or maybe it's something else?

"Danny O'Connell" written on the back of the sweatband.

Friday, November 19, 2010

End-Of-The-Season Thoughts and My First Pro-Model Cap

First off, congrats to the San Francisco Giants on winning the World Series! In my opinion, both the Giants and Rangers deserved to win. However, since I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, it feels great to have a local team win. Unfortunately I didn't get to watch it, I was driving to Los Angeles and had to listen to it on the radio.

I learned an interesting cap-related fact while watching the Series. Apparently Giants manager Bruce Bochy has such a large head that his cap is a custom-made size 8 1/8!

Now that the season is over, it's time to wonder what new caps will debut next season and which ones will be phased out. Apparently the Cleveland Indians have ALREADY introduced a new alternate cap and got rid of the one with the cursive "I". I am always too slow to go out and buy recently-phased-out caps before they disappear from stores. The last one I bought was the Chicago Cubs road cap that was phased out after the 2008 season. That cap is one of my personal favorites, and was the first pro-model cap I ever owned. I don't remember when and where I got it, but I wore it practically every day of my life between the ages of nine and ten. I wore it so much that the "C" logo turned white. I don't know what ever happened to it, I'm sure my mother probably threw it away. Below is a picture of yours truly, I'm guessing circa 1995 or 1996, at my grandmother's house on Easter Sunday. My aunt's old wiener dog is behind me.

Feel free to share your story of your first cap in the comments section!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The MLB "Batter Man" Logo

In 1992, Major League Baseball had two official on-field cap suppliers; New Era and Sports Specialties. I'm not sure who's idea it was or why, but the two cap companies decided to add the MLB "batter man" logo to their caps. The two colors on each side of the batter man would be the two main colors of each team.

It appears at first the logo appeared on the side of the caps. I have never seen a New Era cap like this but I have seen several Sports Specialties caps. Also in the early days the logo was not embroidered straight on to the cap; it was a simply a patch glued onto the cap.

A pre-first season Marlins cap with the logo on the side.

Circa 1992 MLB logo "patch".

Sports Specialties apparently experimented with single-color MLB logos.

In 1994 after New Era became the exclusive cap supplier, on-field caps came with gold pins in the MLB logo's place to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Major League Baseball.

For years the logo remained unchanged on the backs of caps until the switch to polyester caps in 2007. The logo is now embossed instead of being flat.

Old style embroidery.

New style embroidery.

I'm not sure of the "official" name of the MLB logo. I just refer to it as the "batter man" since a New Era employee I once spoke to over the phone called it that. A friend of mine believes the logo is based on Harmon Killebrew. Any thoughts?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Team Cap History: The San Francisco Giants

As a Bay Area resident I feel the time is right to pay tribute to the San Francisco Giants and their 2010 playoff run by looking at and comparing their caps over the years. (By the way, neither of the Bay Area teams (Giants and A's) are my favorite teams).

Giants caps have really not changed all that much since moving to San Francisco from New York in 1958. The 1958 pre-season saw two different prototypes; one that Willie Mays wore in a press conference, and then the design that was airbrushed onto player's caps on Topps baseball cards (see the "Holy Grails" blog). It's always been the same colors: black and orange. There has been slight variances, most notably the orange visors of the late 70s/early 80s and has an alternate this past regular season.

Let's take a look...

The Giants primary cap maker dating back to the New York days until 1976 was Tim McAuliffe, Inc. (KM Pro after 1969) and remained that way until KM went out of business in 1976. I have seen New Era San Francisco Giants caps from this time period as well. Notice in the early to mid 60s the Giants had slightly larger interlocked "SF" logos, so this is most likely when they used New Era caps. McAuliffe/KM always used the exact same embroidered "SF" logo in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. At some point, most likely in the early 70s, the Giants switched to gray under-visor fabric and were most likely among one of the first teams to do so.

In 1977 The Giants made a drastic change to their uniforms to fit in with all the other flashy 70s uniforms,and the use of more orange was in order. With KM now out of business, New Era was brought in to make new caps with a revised interlocked "SF" logo and an orange visor. The new caps were not 100% wool; the button and visor fabric was nylon. Many teams at that time were experimenting with nylon fabric on caps.

In 1983, the Giants returned to more "traditional" style uniforms and the logo was again revised and the cap returned to all black. The Giants would alternate throughout the 80s between New Era and Sports Specialties as cap makers. The Giants would wear these caps during the 1989 World Series when the big quake struck (which yours truly slept through). The easiest way to tell the New Era and Sports Specialties versions apart is by the embroidery; the Sports Specialties version is wider, flatter, and almost gives the illusion of an orange outline around the outside of the logo.

New Era version

Sports Specialties version

Also of note, Roman Art (McAuliffe/KM's embroiderer, now known as the Roman Pro Cap Company) began reproducing the orange visor caps in the mid 80s and used the 60s/early 70s style embroidery.

Unfortunately, mine is bent out shape due to being shipped in an envelope...

In 1994 the Giants returned to their 60s/early 70s style logo, and by this time New Era was the MLB's lone cap maker. Initial 1994 versions featured non-embossed logos, and so they are the most scarce version of this cap. Embossed logos made their debut that year and the Giants have stuck with that design since.

The year 2001 saw the Giants introduce an alternate cap. The cap was all black and featured a black version of the regular interlocked SF logo outlined in orange. The cap was one of two (or more?) experimental caps that featured black sweatbands and black under-visor fabric which as well all now know are on every on-field cap. After the devastating loss to the Angels in the 2002 World Series, the caps were done away with.

Finally, in 2010, new alternate caps were introduced. They are the same as the current style but features an orange visor very reminiscent of the late 70s/early 80s caps.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Totally Awesome 80s Caps

I was born in the mid 1980s, but while growing up in the 1990s I lived in an era of "80s backlash". Anything from the 80s was considered extremely "uncool". I hated everything about the 80s; the images, the music, the fashion, ect. but for some reason I loved and still love 80s baseball caps and uniforms. This was the last decade of the wild and outlandishly colorful uniforms. When I was around the age of ten a local Blockbuster video store had various video cassette tapes of highlights from past World Series games. I rented "Highlights of the 1984 World Series" and fell in love with the Padres "taco bell" caps despite the fact that the Padres got creamed by the Tigers. A couple of years later Blockbuster got rid of all of those tapes and I was lucky enough to buy that very tape.

Slowly but surely the colorful uniforms and caps began to disappear around 1983 when designs from the 70s (my favorite decade for caps and uniforms) began to fall out of stlye, and by the early 90s they were all gone. By 1987, many infamous caps disappeared such as the Pirates "pillbox", The A's "kelley green", the Giants orange visor, the Brewers yellow front panel road cap, the Mariners "pitchfork", and even the brightly colored Astros caps. The 80s saw the return of the Indians "Chief Wahoo" to their caps, and three teams currently wear the same cap designs that they switched to in the 80s; the A's, the Braves (which is identical to their 60s design), and the Twins (which has begun to fall out of favor to the logo that it replaced). Also of note, St. Patrick's Day uniforms made their debut during the 1981 spring training, first worn by the Philadelphia Phillies.

In the cap industry, private labeling finally came to an end (Wilson was the last company), and Sports Specialties, Inc. became New Era's last new competitor, quickly becoming New Era's only competitor for on-field caps by the end of the decade when Roman switched to "throwbacks" (old style reproductions) only. Also at the end of the decade was the leather sweatband's disappearance from on-field caps. The last year I believe (feel free to prove otherwise) was 1987. New Era continued to use leather bands in home plate umpire caps until recent years (not sure when they stopped, or did they?). In vogue were nylon caps; a few teams such as the Indians and Blue Jays used them, and then some teams used nylon on just the front panels (on caps made by New Era). Also, on-field baseball caps began to greatly rise in popularity with the debut of the "Diamond Collection" which made on-field caps more widely available in retail.

Let's take a look at some 80s caps from my personal collection.

The Angels used this style for the entire decade. Seen here with an original Diamond Collection tag.

The A's circa 1985 - 1987.

The Blue Jays debuted their first road cap in 1989. This is a nylon cap.

A "royal blue" Braves road cap.

Brewers road cap circa 1983 to 1984 with a nylon front panel.

A Cubs cap made by Sports Specialties.

The Giants cap with what I call the "fat" logo brings back memories of early childhood. Anyone remember the 1989 World Series and the quake? I slept through it on my grandmother's lap (I live in the Bay Area, and I was a three-year-old)!

This Mariners design was born and died in the 80s.

The Padres used this design for the last half of the 80s, to see the earlier "taco bell" design just look through my previous posts on it.

The original Phillies St. Patrick's Day cap. Why a bell? The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia of course. They should have embroidered a crack!

The Rangers had a good thing going with this cap including the last years of Nolan Ryan's great career.

I always liked this White Sox style from the late 80s. Now if I could only find one in my size...

What is your favorite cap from the 80s?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Collectors Corner: Steven August

Name / Age / Occupation: Steven August /45 / Entrepreneur

When did you first start collecting pro-model baseball caps? 1975

How have you acquired your caps? I purchased many when I was younger, KM Pro used to sell them in the Sporting News. When they went out of business Roman Pro started doing the same. I used to wait for the UPS truck to come and deliver that little brown box with my next new cap in it. I also used to visit Gerry Cosby's in New York City, they had a very large selection as Pro caps were not as popular and easy to get in the 70's.

What do you consider to be your “holy grail/grails”? I have a McAuliffe 1962 Mets cap worn by Jay Hook (who won the first Mets game ever)...pretty cool cap. I also own a few Mets "Pillbox caps" from 1976 which are classic.

What is your favorite cap manufacturer? Without question KM Pro.

What about baseball caps appeals to you? Something about the history and nostalgia behind them. I do believe the best caps made in both quality and simplicity of design were the caps from the 1960's - 70's.

What was your first pro-model baseball cap? NY Mets - KM Pro

What is your favorite cap of all time? Definitely the Mets

What is your favorite baseball team? Mets, then Brooklyn Dodgers.

Do you wear any of your vintage caps, or do you keep them on display, on a shelf, or in a box, ect.? Both, I do wear some of my classics that I have been lucky enough to get in my size.

Wool Caps or Polyester Caps? Wool

Leather Sweatbands or Cloth Sweatbands? Nothing like a classic leather sweatband.

Anything else besides caps that you collect (sports or non-sports related)? I do collect some jerseys, both baseball and hockey.

Any hobbies or other interests? Love to workout and spend time with my wife and kids.