A Tribute to Will Arlt

I recently find out Will Arlt passed away. He was the owner of Cooperstown Ballcap Co., later Ideal Cap Co. It appears he may have passed sometime in early November of 2019. I had noticed that Ideal Cap Co. had stopped releasing new caps on a monthly basis, so perhaps Mr. Arlt had been ill for a little while before passing. Will was one of the last people that believed in making a fine-quality ballcap and actually did so.

I never had the chance to meet Will Arlt in person. In the summer of 2018, I visited Cooperstown, NY just before the Hall of Fame induction ceremony that year. It was busy on the downtown strip. Ideal Cap Co. had been (and still does, as of the time this is being written) selling caps at the store of the "Where It All Began" bat company. I went in the store and bought probably half a dozen caps. There were more that I wanted, but they were sold out. They told me they would be restocked in a short time that same day. Wouldn't you know, a short time later, I was across the street when through the crowd I saw Mr. Arlt emerge, his arms full of boxes of caps. His face was covered in sweat (is was a humid day). He was wearing a blank, navy blue short-visor cap (probably the same one in the picture above). I assume it was one of his own. I recall seeing him go in and out of the store very quickly. I may have considered running through the crowd to catch him and talk to him, but I figured he must have been busy and I didn't want to bother him. However, I did chat with him a few times via email. Per my suggestion, Ideal Cap Co. produced a 1986 San Jose "Bad News" Bees cap. However, the only similarity between the original cap and Ideal's version was the logo. Mr. Arlt opted to use the old-school materials and change the colors of the cap from solid navy to black and yellow.

Mr. Arlt apparently was a recording engineer in the music business earlier in his life. His most notable work was being at the recording console controls for Roberta Flack's "First Take" album. After working in vintage clothing sales, he later founded Cooperstown Ballcap Co. in the 1980s. They offered reproduction baseball caps from every era, and they were constructed in a very old-timely fashion. Unfortunately, they lost their agreement with MLB in 2010. A short time later, they returned as Ideal Cap Co. The caps were made similar to Ebbets Field Flannels, but they had a slightly different look and feel in terms of material and construction.

Unfortunately, I never learned about Cooperstown Ballcap Co.'s existence until a few years before they shut down. I was only able to order from them twice. I must admit that I was less than satisfied with the results. The caps were poorly made and featured massive, bulbous crowns. They fit two sizes too small. The cloth sweatbands were paper thin. Perhaps I missed out on the halcyon days of the company. However, I enjoyed Ideal Cap Co. and wore their caps on a regular basis. I wear a green-colored waxed cotton cap made by Ideal every time it rains.

Recently, I've been helping longtime cap collector Marty Kane sell his collection. He is an elderly gentlemen and unfortunately his children and grandchildren aren't interested in inheriting his collection. He has a major amount of Cooperstown Ballcap Co. caps. I took a few dozen home in November to sell to fellow collectors. Among them were a trio of New York Giants caps. Since CBC's size tags were made of paper and meant to be torn out, they were long gone. My best bet is to try them on to gauge the size. When I tried on a black and orange New York Giants cap, it fit perfectly. Not only that, it was extremely comfortable. One of the best-fitting caps I have ever worn. I had to keep it. I like to think that since Mr. Arlt had just recently passed away at that time, he was with me in spirit in some sort of way and lead me to finding that perfect cap. I've been wearing it nearly every day since I got it.

As for the fate of Ideal Cap Co., I reached out to Where It All Began Bat Co. since they are listed as the contact on Ideal Cap Co.'s website. They're response was: "We do plan on carrying on the Ideal Cap Co brand. The company is in a transition phase now and we are only fulfilling orders but once the transition is complete we will be back to releasing a cap of the month and updating the offerings."

"There are three or four thousand people who would be deeply depressed if I stopped doing what I'm doing. They tell other people. We've never advertised, so it's word of mouth." - Will Arlt

I couldn't agree more, as I am indeed deeply depressed by his passing. Here's to one of the great ones in our hobby. May he rest in peace.


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  3. Thanks a lot for this post. I had NO IDEA he was a recording engineer and am now doing a deep dive on his work. I work in music and love that Roberta Flack LP, so it's fascinating to hear he did that in a previous life. I treasure my 10 or so Ideal Caps that I own, and keep adding to my collection with what's left out there on eBay. RIP to a special guy who spoiled us with wonderful accroutements for our bald heads ;)


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