If baseball is considered America’s pastime, the baseball hat might just be considered America’s hat. Starting on the ballfield, the baseball hat now has many uses, from sun protection to political statements.
HISTORY OF THE BASEBALL CAP
Hats were first introduced on the baseball field in 1849 by the Knickerbocker Baseball Club in New York, but these hats did not resemble the rounded, soft cap we associate with baseball today. They were closer in appearance to a yacht cap. The first version of a hat that resembles the ubiquitous baseball cap was donned by the Brooklyn Excelsiors in the 1860s.
This style of cap was quickly adopted by other sports teams. It truly hit full steam when Spalding, the well-known baseball bat manufacturer, began producing baseball caps in 1903.
LOADED WITH LOGOS
One of the most iconic elements of a baseball hat is the display of a logo on the front. This trend was started by the Detroit Tigers in 1901 featuring a running, orange tiger. The trend for logos spread to other Major League Baseball teams, amateur teams, and even little league teams, which began to sprout up in the 1940s.
The development of screen printing technology in the 1950s made it significantly easier to add logos to any item of clothing, including baseball caps. Companies began screen printing their logos on hats and using them as swag for customers and fans.
New Era Cap Company was prepared to fill the significant demand with their 59Fifty hats. By the 1960s they had launched in retail and by 1994 they were the official manufacturer of hats for the MLB, who began to allow headwear licensing. Thanks in part to a request from Spike Lee for a specialty red New York Yankees hat, fans were now able to get their favorite team’s hat in any color.
HIGH FASHION AND POLITICAL CENTERPIECE
The baseball cap is such a versatile piece of the American wardrobe, that its uses span from sporting to high fashion to statement-making.
Many high-end designers have put their own spin on the baseball cap, including A.P.C., Burberry, Brunello Cucinelli, Gucci, and Kenzo. The hat has proven an effective tool for making a political splash as well. Supporters of President Donald Trump can be easily spotted sporting bright red hats with the president’s campaign slogan, Make America Great Again.
Whether you are looking for comfort or fashion, there is surely a baseball cap to fit your needs!