Friday, July 23, 2010

Company Profile: The Roman Pro Cap Company

In the days before exclusive licensing, many different companies competed to make various parts of a ball players' uniform. Many different companies made on-field ballcaps before New Era was granted exclusive license for ballcaps in 1994. As time goes by, information on the now-defunct companies that used to make ballcaps gets lost. As a tribute to those companies, I will post profiles full of company information I have gathered from various sources once and a while. First I will begin with the Roman Pro Cap Company.

Roman Manufacturing Corp. was started in 1936 by Larry & Olga Mazzola creating monogramming for fine linens, handkerchiefs, towels, fur coat linings and more.During the early years the company name was changed to The Roman Art Embroidery Corp.



They developed many clients in the sporting goods manufacturing industry and became a major source of embroidered logos for the uniforms of the professional sports teams. The Boston, Mass. based Tim McAuliffe Inc., founded in 1896, used Roman’s embroidery for their caps and uniforms. By 1969, McAullife no longer made caps. That was handed over to the KM Pro Cap Company. All teams until expansion in the 1960s used KM Pro caps at one time or another. After expansion Roman did the embroidery for more than half of the new clubs. Roman didn’t just supply embroidery for McAuliffe/KM Pro; they also supplied the embroidery under private label for Wilson (Wilson caps were manufactured by New Era).



In the late 1970s the KM Pro Company closed its doors. Due to the major loss of business, it was decided that Roman should start manufacturing their own baseball caps. Roman Pro Cap Company was created. Several teams used Roman-made caps but they had few remaining MLB customers by the early 1980s. Around that time, Roman began remaking old style caps, commonly known as "throwbacks." They were advertised in sports magazines and were available via mail order. Roman became the first licensed cap company to make the old style caps, and were the first company to carry the "Cooperstown Collection" label. Most of Roman's caps featured 100% accurate embroidered logos as they had archived all of their embroidery patterns (New Era did NOT archive their embroidery).



The 1994 players strike which shut down the retail business for all MLB-related goods for the year. Roman had made commitments to vendors for new equipment and MLB would not vary from its contract which forced the company into bankruptcy. The company recovered shortly thereafter and was then sold to a venture group who proceeded to lose its business and ultimately shut it down. Roman also made caps under Mitchell & Ness for a time in the 90s. In early 200-s Roman was resurrected and the company decided to further develop their custom digitizing and embroidery division. The company then became known as Apparel 2000 LLC. They are no longer affiliated with professional sports, including Major League Baseball, and likely never will be again (I was told by a company representative "...unless they are granted exclusive license for 100 years."). Their embroidery patterns are still in their archives but are not available to the public.



Some of the teams that wore Roman caps on the field were the Boston Red Sox, Montreal Expos, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, & Houston Astros. There are probably a few others. The Milwaukee Brewers were Roman's most loyal customer, which wore Roman caps into the mid 80s.

Roman caps were also used on-field for "turn back the clock games", since that is the only time when exclusive licensing does not apply. However, I have noticed people as well as memorabilia companies trying to sell Roman throwback caps as authentic vintage game used caps. Consider yourself warned!


A selection of caps from my Roman cap collection.

15 comments:

  1. My first instinct is that it's some sort of non-licensed California Angels alternate logo.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Paul! What's Up!? Its Nems from Universal Article.
    Feeling the new blog and your point of view! Great beginning!
    Thanks for the insight into the Roman Pro caps. I have a RP catalog that dates back to 1991, which features 50+ teams and styles. As a kid I use to imagine buying every single cap in the catalog!
    I can scan it for you if you need a copy?
    Anyway, I listed The Ballcap Blog on the UA Links section and a big shout on our twitter feed!
    Keep up the Good Work!

    Peace,
    Nems
    Universal Article

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Nems!

    Please, please, please scan me the catalog!!!

    I have some Roman caps for sale. Let me know if you are interested!

    And thanks for the shoutout!!! Keep in touch.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very interesting article.
    I was all set to buy a large lot of Roman Pro hats in around 96 I believe, and was told there was a fire in the warehouse that destroyed the stock.
    It's a shame, New Era Cooperstowns are weak, and there are several American Needle models that do NOT match the Okkonen/Hall of Fame Data base. With Cooperstown out of business for MLB, it's impossible to complete a collection.

    I've got all hats since 1962, except a few of the pillboxes from 1976.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's too band about the fire.

    New Era could do so much of a better job at remaking the old styles, they just choose not to. Oh well, what can you do?

    Please share some of your collection! I'm sure a lot of people would love to see it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I had some Roman Pro caps. They always seemed to be skimpy on sizes and had a low crown.

    Will anyone ever make a Seattle Pilots cap and get it all right -- color, scrambled eggs, letter? And will anyone ever make the Pilots spring training cap (plain S)?

    ReplyDelete
  7. The Roman version of the Seattle Pilots cap, embroidery-wise, was correct because Roman's predecessor KM made the Pilots caps.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great article.
    I found a Roman cap in a second hand store recently and was hoping you might be able to give me a little information about it. I know it is a Kansas City Monarchs cap but I can't seem to find a date on when this particular label might have been used. Any information is greatly appreciated.

    http://tinypic.com/r/29yl4yr/7

    ReplyDelete
  9. I really happy to be visiting your blog. Thanks for the share.... Keep posting such an interesting information.
    company profiles

    ReplyDelete
  10. Back in the early 70's I collected every major league cap - directly from the clubs. This was before caps could be purchased from the cap companies.It took a few years, but I wrote each club and either bought their cap or some teams actually sent me one for free when I explained my goal. Back then there were several companies who made MLB caps. The Orioles cap (1975 - 1977) was made by AJD Cap Company in Richmond, VA, and it was the toughest to get. Anyone know how I could get an Orioles cap made by AJD? Unfortuantely, the caps I collected I gave away when I moved years ago. What I wouldn't do to get those caps back!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Really impressive blogs!!! I must say that if any company information is present in the search engine like Google than profit is on daily basis. I have been trying to put my company information in the Google since a long time and should say it will bring more profit to me. .

    Company
    Information

    ReplyDelete
  12. I so miss the Roman NFL throwback fitteds... the softest cotton, a great bucket, the bill formed just right... I believe I bought those around 1988?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Just found a Roman cap today in an upscale thrift shop here in Austin. It is red wool with a white block letter C on it. Small size 6 7/8. Any info appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have a 1920 roman Yankees throwback cap is it rare

    ReplyDelete
  15. My Brooklyn Dodgers cap is getting long in the tooth and I went on the web to look for another. I am sad to learn that Roman no longer is in that business as their cap design and quality seems to me better than the New Era caps. I am not a collector, but a wearer. Too bad.

    ReplyDelete