Wednesday, September 21, 2016

An Open Letter to New Era

Dear New Era Cap Company,

I first fell in love with New Era on-field baseball caps in 1995. I was nine years-old and had recently learned how to play baseball. My parents were not into sports to say the least, so my younger brother and I learned about sports from the kids down the street and to us, baseball was our favorite. I can't remember exactly where, and what adult in my life purchased it for me, but I remember picking out my first authentic "Diamond Collection" on-field cap. It was a Chicago Cubs "Road" cap, the one with the red visor. Size 6 7/8. I remember being absolutely thrilled that I now owned one of the exact same caps that MLB stars wore on the field of play. I wore it for years until I could no longer squeeze it onto my head.

Over the course of the rest of my childhood and into my twenties I continued to collect New Era on-field caps. New caps, vintage caps, actual game used players' caps and everything in between. Now, at thirty years of age, I have amassed a collection of roughly five-hundred New Era on-field caps ranging from the 1950s to the present.

My warm feelings for New Era reached a peak in 2010, when New Era kindly fixed some vintage caps for me. I was told it wasn't a big deal and they were happy to help. Suddenly, a New Era exec that I had befriended called me. In a condescending tone, he told me that they can't repair caps anymore and they were apparently upset that I blogged about it (I was NOT the first one). When people that read my blog and contacted New Era to ask about repairs, they were told not to listen to "some guy from California that blogged about it." That same exec then followed up with a personal letter to me, repeating what he said in our phone conversation. I had his personal direct phone number and I tried to talk to him about it and to apologize if I did something that got him in trouble. He never answered my calls again. Although my feelings were hurt, I continued to support New Era and their product.

By this time it was  2011, and New Era began to make some changes that bothered me. Being a long-time fan of minor league baseball, I purchased a cap at a minor league game and noticed the texture of the polyester fabric was odd, and that the cap was rigid and did not fit like normal. It even smelled different. Every cap in the team store was just like it. I didn't think much of it until a short time later. I decided to flip back the tags that are attached to the sweatbands. It said "Made in China". I was shocked that New Era was now making on-field caps in China, when "Made In USA" had been one of New Era's favorite things to advertise. I learned that New Era had shuttered two of their three USA manufacturing plants. I was disappointed, but I later came to learn that there were ways to get minor league caps USA made through certain sources. I continued to support New Era and their product.

Over the next couple of years, I noticed that Chinese-made MLB on-field caps in retail stores alongside USA made ones, with both being sold as the exact same product and at the exact same price. This was especially prominent during the 2014 World Series. As long as USA made caps were available, I continued to support New Era and their product.

Last year, I noticed that Vietnamese, Bangladeshi, and Chinese-made MLB on-field caps in retail stores alongside USA made ones, with all being sold as the exact same product and at the exact same price. As long as USA made caps were available, I continued to support New Era and their product.

This year, USA made caps began to say they were made "with imported materials" on the label. As long as they were USA made, I continued to support New Era and their product.

Now, New Era has decided to include their "flag" logo on the side of MLB on-field caps, starting with the 2016 postseason. This has now broken down the wall between MLB on-field caps, custom "hip hop/rap" caps, college caps, and minor league caps. They are now all on the same level. To me, MLB on-field caps are no longer on a higher pedestal. There are also reports of New Era deleting comments and banning anyone that has made negative comments about the flag logo on MLB on-field caps on social media. I will NOT continue to support New Era and their product. I'm done. This is the straw that broke the camels' back.

The other big factor for me is the "imported materials". I have long been a strong supporter of USA manufacturing. You see, companies prefer to have fabric made overseas not just because it's cheaper, but because regulations are looser. In many countries, companies are allowed to get away with workers being exposed to toxic dyes, not to mention polyester is a petroleum product so I'm sure many workers are exposed to oil and other pollutants while making the fabric. Polluted water used to make various fabrics is then dumped into water systems that pollute the environment. Call me a hippie, but this is not something that I personally can't support. You need to consider the human toll it takes to make the cap you are buying. The only positive is that an American worker stitched it together,

New Era, a family run business, has now officially chosen profit over people. They used to be different. They were personable, and they cared deeply for their loyal customers. Not anymore. After more than twenty years of being a loyal customer, I will not longer be buying any new New Era products,

Sincerely,
Paul Carr


18 comments:

  1. I feel the same way. My story is very similar to yours. Nice post.

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  2. Sounds like a bunch of dirtbags took over the company. This is when they got greedy & started making a bunch of ugly caps that they couldn't handle the workload, so they outsourced it.
    I started collecting caps in 1992 (that's when they started selling them to the public here) and incidentally, I always vastly preferred The Pro over New Era. I'd go to SportMart & see the New Era caps with crooked stitching on every cap & some had really poor logos, tho it got a lot better in the late 1990s.
    My peak NE collecting came in the late 1990s / early 2000s, which eventually I sold all the caps I didn't dirty up, thankfully. It was this time I started going back to adjustable caps & mainly, cotton. On-fields are just too heavy, expensive & uncomfortable. When I started collecting, on-fields were $17. Today they're $35-$38. Outrageous.
    The NE I have collected in the past 10 years have been through ebay & older caps, and I will never buy a NE cap with that flag on there. We don't need logo creep. It's ugly & unnecessary. Now I don't think I'd want to put a Chinese cap on my head, either.

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  3. I agree completely. My dad bought me my first new era in 1990 or 91. It was the new black Chicago White Sox hat they began wearing the year new Comiskey Park opened, and still wear today. I loved that cap! My high school baseball team wore new era, we all loved them! This was back before the NE flag. Later on the flag began appearing on fashion caps as a way to differentiate them from the MLB onfields. Eventually all NE caps had them except on field caps. I was told years ago that NE would never put the flag on the on field caps because they wanted them to maintain a clean, classic look to the uniforms. In fact MLB has regulations on logo creep. I remember in the 90s guys having to put tape over Nike logos on turtlenecks. Stuff like that, and if it didn't have the team name on it for example an undershirt, it couldn't show or it had to be taped or taken off. They even regulated uniform brand logos like jerseys and pants to a certain size and location on the uniform. MLB used to be really strict! I guess they're slacking these days. I guess I'm done after 26 years of collecting, over 1,000 hats during that time, it hurts it really hurts. I've been loyal to them all this time, baseball the most American of all sports is being tarnished by logo creep. I won't even be able to watch baseball the same way again. Babe Ruth never wore a cap with that stupid logo! I don't think any pro should! Hopefully it will spark a revolt by the players and it will be 86ed. If not then I'm going to be buying up my favs before they get flagged, and sticking with eBay. Collecting vintage is more fun anyways, just time consuming searching for them. I just hope New Era realizes the mistake they're making, I haven't read or seen or heard one positive comment about this move.

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  4. Hi Paul,

    Do you allow me to repost this post on my own blog. I will refer to your blog, complete with a linke to it.

    Best regards,

    Chris Kabout

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    Replies
    1. Yes! Sorry for the late response.

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    2. No problem. Thanks for allowing me.

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  5. Hey. I just found this site from a friend and this is the 2nd post I read (1st being about the new era tags) and I wanted to say THANK YOU for writing this letter. I could not have put it any better or even close to this. You sir pretty much have the same story as I. Just I have a lot less caps but I have the same love for it as you. I posted on my FB and IG about how upset I was with this flag goin on the on field caps and a lot of my friends didn't seem to get why I was upset. Good thing there's people like you and I and many many other cap lovers out here that know why it's bad and sad. Everything you pointed out in this letter is spot on! And I stand with you!!! Again I just wanted to say thank you sir and you have a new follower here.

    P.S my name is Matt. I go by Fatphilly to my friends. I'm gonna try and see if I can find you on IG. Have a great day

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    Replies
    1. Hi Matt, I am not on IG but I have Twitter and FB.

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  7. Good for you for stepping up Paul. My first New Era cap was a 1996 yankees WS had I got in 8th grade. I've had many since then, both game used collectibles and for my own use. Its unfortunate how profits have changed a once great American company. I agree 100% the price is too high in more ways than one. Keep the blog alive!

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  8. It’s really very informative that I wanted ever, thanks for this.

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  9. Thank you for posting this. I've followed this blog ever since fell in love with caps about 8 years ago. I'm glad I'm not only one disappointed in new era. Thank you for loving ball caps and having the best blog ever.


    Sincerely, Matt

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  10. This hits the nail right on the head! Thank you for posting this!

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  12. thank you! - my feelings exactly - was excited when the turn back clock hats were usa made and even some with no mlb logo on back - the side logo was a slap in the face - now China??? sadly I am done with New Era - gonna have to buy Ebbets only now -J

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  13. Thank you very much for the sharing! COOL..
    Phoenix

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  14. exact point
    been collecting AC-OF before now im only into WS patch since they stitch their side flag on

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