It's time to discuss one of the most infamous caps of all time: the 1969 Seattle Pilots! As most of us know, the team existed for one season and then in 1970 became the Milwaukee Brewers. The Seattle Pilots may have existed for one season, but they had three different caps.
So where do we begin? How about 1968. Joe Schultz is announced as the manager of the Pilots. Here he is wearing a prototype cap, the first time the world saw a Pilots cap. This is the only image I could find, and who knows if any exist out there today. It's probably one of, if not the rarest post-war baseball caps out there. I have no idea what company made it, but my guess would be the KM Pro Cap Company. The cap is royal blue in color with a gold stylized "S", a gold band across the bottom of the front panel, and the "scrambled eggs" on the bill just like a airline pilot's cap.
Were reproductions ever made? Yes! The recently-defunct Cooperstown Ballcap Company made them and I was lucky enough to find an image. Probably not 100% accurate but that's all there is.
So the 1969 spring training rolls around and instead of the fanciness of the prototype that Schultz was wearing, the Pilots show up in plain blue caps with the gold block "S". Again, most likely KM Pro made these caps, and Cooperstown Ballcap Company made reproductions. No photos to be found of those, but here is a nice spring training photo courtesy of "Steve's Baseball Photography Pages".
So now we come to the regular season. Turns out, the Pilots used both KM Pro AND New Era as cap makers. I have found game-used caps of both kinds. One common mistake in remakes today is the scrambled eggs on the bill. They actually resemble stalks of wheat, not actual scrambled eggs.
Let's take a look at New Era's version:
Here is KM Pro's version. I couldn't find an interior picture, but here's the front:
Now onto the reproductions!
The most accurate version ever made by far was the Roman Pro Cap Company. As I mentioned in my last blog, Roman was KM Pro's successor, and their caps were 100% accurate embroidery-wise, as KM Pro had archived all of their embroidery (New Era did NOT archive their embroidery). The cap below is a little out of shape but you can clearly see the accurate embroidery. Unfortunately, these caps disappeared in the mid 90s when Roman went under. Due to the accuracy, they very rarely show up for sale because nobody wants to get rid of them!
Another company competing in remakes of old-time caps (throwbacks) was Twins Enterprise, who offered a half-decent version in the 80s. Around that time, they bought out a company called "Devon Professional Cap" which did make on-field caps at one time. I have no idea if they ever made their own Pilots caps.
Now to the remakes currently available. Here we have the version by good ol' American Needle. The "S" is done well, but that's about it! Look at those scrambled eggs! Not exactly accurate. It is available almost anywhere online.
You think that's bad? New Era joined the throwback market in the mid 90s when Roman went under. Apparently, something went wrong. Way wrong. I can't see how this happened, but take a look:
How did the "S" and the gold band get so small!?!
Are you done laughing? No? Well, pull yourself together so we can wrap this up. New Era finally got their stuff together and actually made a good reproduction, one of the better ones they have made compared to others. This the best on the market today. You can get these at many places online, or just go to mickeysplace.com.
P.S. I am looking to buy a Pilots cap! Original New Era or KM Pro versions or even a Roman will do. Let me know if you have one you're willing to part with!