Thursday, October 6, 2016

Minoring in Taco Bell

Not to toot my own horn, but I do consider myself to be the foremost expert on the history of the "bell panel" baseball cap started by the San Diego Padres, typically known as the "Taco Bell" cap. If you read my previous blogs you will notice that the shape of the front panel of the cap resembles a bell when looked at straight-on. The reason for that is because the Padres celebrate the California missions. The missions all had bells at the top of the buildings and well, so did the Padres players by donning these caps. It all makes sense.

I noticed that several minor league teams in the 70s and 80s also wore bell panel caps. Only two of them were actual Padres affiliates. Why use a bell panel when you're not a Padres affiliate? It makes no sense to me. Many have never noticed that the shape is a bell, they probably just liked the look. That's why when the Rays wear their 70s "Fauxback" uniforms that are 70s Padres rip-offs, it bothers me.

Anyway, here are the minor league teams that have worn these caps at one time or another. From what I can tell, most wore these for only one or two seasons. Unfortunately, finding minor league photos is a challenge, especially in color...

First, we will start with the Padres affiliates...

1978 Reno Silver Sox
The Reno franchise wore Taco Bells the longest, starting in 1978.  I'm assuming the uniforms are brown and gold. Tim Flannery is pictured.

1983 Reno Padres
By the early 80s, the Reno franchise had changed its name to that of the parent club. This photo is from 1983. I am unsure if they continued to wear this cap the following season. By 1985 they had switched to a brown cap with an orange logo. They continued to wear recycled early 80s Padres pullover jerseys through the 1986 season.

1983 Las Vegas Stars
1983 was the inaugural season for the Las Vegas Franchise. They wore the Taco Bell cap only that season. In 1984 they switched to a solid orange cap.

2016 El Paso Chihuahuas
The current Padres triple-A team did a 70s "Fauxback" game.

Now the non-Padres affiliates...

1978/79 Spokane Indians (Mariners affiliate)
One of these popped up for sale on eBay a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I was outbid.

1982 Tucson Toros (Astros affiliate)

1982 Buffalo Bisons (Pirates affiliate)
The logo is identical to the Pirates "P" only with the added segments to make a "B".

1984 Salinas Spurs (Mariners affiliate)
The second California League team and second Mariners affiliate to wear this type of cap. I assume the cap is blue and gold like the parent team.

2017 Bowling Green Hot Rods
Taking a cue from their parent team, The Tampa Bay Rays, the Hot Rods wore a "Fauxback" cap in 2017.

Are there any I missed? If so please email me.

-Thanks to Andy Sorber for additional info.