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.