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?

2 comments:

  1. I just got this hat from a great seller on ebay. It's 7 1/2 but they shrink down considerably more than the more recent 100% wool caps that were released at the very end of the wool era. check it out!

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=350470889172&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT

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  2. I absolutely love the nylon caps! I wish there was more documentation as to how they came about, and why they didn't last longer.

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