Thursday, August 22, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - Q

So there was a bit of speculation about what cap I would choose to represent Q. It's pretty much a no-brainer, yeah. But the tough part was deciding which version I would choose. So I'll just kill the speculation:


Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The first Super Cap.

I opted to go with this, the original version of the California League's very own Rancho Cucamonga Quakes cap. For the sake of comparison, here is a picture of all three Quakes Q caps.

All Q. All the time.
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes began play in 1993 after the San Bernardino Spirit relocated there. They built a fancy new stadium called the Epicenter (see what they did there, earthquake fans?) and with an outfield view of the gorgeous San Gabriel Mountains, it remains one of my very favorite stadiums to watch a game.

The Epicenter in 2003
I had three choices. The current cap which has been in use now for several years now is the first cap to actually incorporate a design on the visor. The little blue "faultline" is unique to minor league baseball caps. The Q, which is consistent with how it has been stylized over the years, has "moovles" (as I call them) around it to give the impression that it is shaking.

The original Quakes cap, teal crown with black visor, was somewhat of a phenomenon. As I recall, it was claimed to be so popular that people were seen wearing the cap in places as far away as Southeast Asia. It just seemed that around that time everyone was wearing a Quakes cap. I can remember attending games in the early to mid 90s and having to sit in the bleachers all the way down in the lines. 6000+ per night. Those were fun to attend. The team was that popular. The cap was an icon of sorts, and I think an argument could be made that the popularity of that logo ushered in the era of the well designed minor league cap logo. Everyone wanted to have something unique.

Then for some inexplicable reason, the team decided to ruin the cap by dropping their mascot right into the logo. Bad idea then. Bad idea now.

Due to its uniqueness, awesome 90s teal power, and historical impact, I have chosen the original Rancho Cucamonga Quakes cap to represent the Letter Q.


Friday, August 16, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - P

Took a little break, but I'm back and ready to complete the Alphabet Challenge.

I've realized that I have a lot of hats with a single letter P on them. Don't know why it's such a common letter in the minor leagues. Portland, Princeton, Pawtucket, Pulaski, Phoenix, etc... This letter was one of the toughest to choose from, because there are two caps that could have easily been the one to represent the letter P. You'll see that there are a lot of great caps to choose from. But in the end I had to roll with this defunct Angels rookie league affiliate:


Provo Angels. Pleasantly periwinkle.

Keep in mind that this was during the Angels Disney phase, so this shade of blue was prominent in that organization. Despite that, I don't really consider this to be an incorporation of the parent club's look. In fact, the cap is really not too exciting at a glance. Solid P in front of triangle shaped peak, presumably representing the Wasatch Mountains of Central Utah. So I'll have to explain why I chose this cap.

The Provo (Utah) Angels began play in June 2001 in the Pioneer League. Happened to be the same year the Casper (Wyoming) Rockies also began play in the same league. As I have family ties to Wyoming and a fondness for Utah, I was pretty anxious to get both of these caps. And really, acquiring those caps began the current wave of cap collecting for me. The urge to collect would explode in 2002, and I can honestly say getting those caps really started it. So this cap is really special to me.

In fact, here is a rare archive shot from early 2002.

Cap Wall - Spring 2002

A few of these were stolen during the Capocalypse of 2007, but replaced. I still have most of these same caps pictured here.

And I still love The Cure, New Order and Tears For Fears. Still have those posters, in fact, but as my cap collection grew, I no longer have room for the posters.

The Provo Angels would win a Pioneer League Championship in 2005, then promptly relocate to nearby Orem to become the Orem Owlz. Before that happened, I did manage to acquire a couple of other Provo Angels items. I got these jerseys:

Home jersey

Road jersey

They also had a road cap which is even more sparse, if that seems possible.

Fantastic.

On a side note, on the occasion I would wear the road jersey, it rarely failed that someone would approach me and ask if I was Mormon. Fair enough. It is pretty obscure. I'd always have to explain that it was a baseball jersey etc... and they almost always got that eyes-glazed-over like they were sorry they asked.

For anyone wondering why I chose the home cap over the more simplistic road cap, it's simply because it was the first, and in many ways is symbolic (along with the Casper cap) of the collector that I would become. My only regret with that cap is that unlike the Casper Rockies cap, where I bought two additional caps, I never bought a duplicate Provo Angels cap.

And that is why I chose this cap to represent Letter P.

And now for the ones that didn't make the cut.

That's a lot of P.

The Pawtucket Red Sox cap is as close as I intend on ever coming to owning a Boston Red Sox cap.

The Pulaski Mariners cap (middle row, left - in case it's not obvious) is one of my favorite caps in my minor league collection. A perfect blend of parent team logo and local uniqueness. The metallic silver P, outlined in teal, with the compass attached to it. The visor is grey, not the metallic silver of the Seattle alternate cap from years back, but still, seeing this cap up close is a thing of beauty. And if it had not been for the attachment I have for the Provo cap, the Pulaski Mariners cap would have been the choice.

But there can only be one...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - O

So tonight's cap, representing Letter O, is a rather personal one. After all, this cap is a cap of my favorite team in my favorite sport. It's actually rather surprising that I have so many caps with a letter O on the front. Six total, and three of them don't have animals on or in the O to make them less plain. Well, I don't find them plain, but I guess some might say that it would make for a pretty boring logo. As I will show, the oval shaped letter can make for a pretty good looking cap.

As for the cap I've chosen to represent the Letter O:

My beloved Ottawa Senators.

At this point I'd get into a little bit about my history following this team. I actually did a rather comprehensive write up on this back in March, which I invite you to read here. No point in rehashing the long story of my Senators fandom when I've already written it. But trust me. It's a good read, particularly if you love the team that you root for.

This logo actually represents the original Ottawa Senators, from the early 20th Century. But there it is, just a simple O. This cap is a custom that I acquired through Hat Club a couple of years back. It's great because it's perfect to wear with their awesome Heritage jersey.

Sadly, Daniel Alfredsson is a Red Wing now, but I'll still wear this jersey.

Sigh... I can't wait for October.

As for the other O caps, here's a quick composite of the ones I passed over.

O... yeah...

The 1901 Baltimore Orioles (far left) and Omaha Royals (2nd from left) are great examples that a letter O can look great on a cap. The others are the Orem Owlz, Missoula Osprey and Ogden Raptors. Oddly enough, all three of those teams are members of the rookie class Pioneer League.

I may have a lot of hats, and I do wear many of them. Even some of teams that I may not particularly root for. But I do love wearing the caps of the teams that I truly love from any sport. And of all of my favorite sports franchises, this Ottawa Senators cap is the only one that contains a single letter.

I wear it proudly.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - N

Tonight we're looking at Letter N. Unlike the previous letter, I don't have many options. That makes selecting one to represent really easy. The cap I've selected is also one of my very favorite caps in my entire collection. It is a defunct logo, but it is not a baseball logo. This cap is the primary reason why I hate the NHL teams the Dallas Stars and the Minnesota Wild. If that hasn't given it away, well here you go:

Minnesota North Stars. As Nature intended.

I love vintage NHL logos. I own quite a number of caps and jerseys of defunct teams. Some of them are teams I've never had any allegiance to whatsoever. But for some reason I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I see some of these logos. The North Stars is pretty high up on that list.

First off, the colors are gorgeous. And who doesn't recognize that logo at a glance?(unless you're not a hockey fan) As far as I'm concerned it is one of the great NHL logos of all time. Right up with the original six, and I'm deadly serious when I say that.

I wish so badly that when that jackass owner Norman Green relocated to Dallas, he would have left the colors, name and logo in Minnesota. But no, they became the Dallas Stars, utilizing the North Stars logo in part. So wrong.

And when hockey returned to the Twin Cities? The Minnesota Wild? You want to replace a great name and logo with a name like the Wild and a logo that looks like it's more at home in a KOA brochure? Come on. And the Wild scored no points when they ended up with Dany Heatley on their roster. Screw that guy.

It's interesting because I have no ties to this franchise, or any other defunct or relocated NHL team. But I can't stand that the Whalers are no longer in Hartford and the Nordiques are no longer in Quebec. At least Winnipeg got the Jets back, albeit with a substandard logo. But you can't win 'em all.

I wonder if someone in Minnesota took a poll if they'd say they're fine with the Wild monicker or if they'd rather have the North Stars name and colors back. I know how I'd vote.

Now for the ones that didn't make it. Only two, and one recently acquired.

Damn that ASG cap looks great.

So here you have the Nevada Wolfpack cap and the 2013 All Star Game cap worn during the Home Run Derby. (I have the AL version of this cap and forgot to include it in my Letter A post)

Great looking caps, but nothing can compare to that great Minnesota North Stars logo.


New Era Alphabet Challenge - M

As the journey down the alphabet lane continues, I stop on Letter M after taking an unscheduled off day. I'm also posting this one late due to unforeseen circumstances occurring late last night. (I fell asleep) But, I do have quite the writeup for the M cap. First, a little background:

I have a lot to choose from on the M logo front. Two current MLB teams, 3 defunct or vintage MLB teams, as well as a couple of minor league teams. This one was kind of simple despite having the Montreal Expos to choose from. (but does everybody even agree that the logo is an M? Check this out from toddradom.com) After careful consideration I have chosen the minor league team that is closest to not my heart, but my zip code.

Behold:

The unheralded logo of the High Desert Mavericks.

These guys have been kicking it around the California League since 1991, being affiliated with a number of different teams, including the Padres, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Brewers, Royals, Marlins, and currently with the Seattle Mariners. Their first manager was Bruce Bochy. They won Cal League Titles in three of their first seven seasons. None since then, and in a way it's a good thing because the Mavericks have a long standing attendance issue, specifically a lack there of. It wasn't always like that.

Maverick Stadium (now Stater Bros. Stadium) was built in Adelanto, very near the now decommissioned George Air Force Base. This allowed for huge crowds on most nights. I can remember going to games (usually rooting for the Lake Elsinore Storm) and hardly seeing any empty seats. Once the base closed and all the military families left, the team had to rely on surrounding communities. Some of which are 10-20 miles away. For myself, it is a 30 mile round trip to attend a game. I believe for that reason, crowds often look like this:

Plenty of great seats still available!

This picture was taken last night. The first Mavericks game I've attended this season. This wasn't because of the mileage issue, it was more of a practical issue having to do with the birth of my third child and now having three boys aged three and under. But last night I took my oldest son to the home of the High Desert Mavericks.

In the past, there were seasons where I attended 30-40 games. That has dwindled dramatically over the past five years. As I mentioned, last night was the first, and most likely will be the only one. I may have gone the entire season without attending a game, but I'd been hearing that there were some improvements made to the stadium, which being city owned had fallen into a deep shade of disrepair. When Minor League Baseball's affiliate dance occurs every other year, it seems the Mavs are one of the last franchises to be paired up with a Major League partner. So in the off season, the team was sold to new ownership and apparently the city decided to chip in enough to keep the team in Adelanto at least until 2015.

So I wanted to go check out what was new. I'd already heard a few things, most notably that the team now charges $2 for parking. This is not a new concept for most minor league parks, but to the fine folks of the High Desert, free parking is like the 28th Amendment. The change did not seem to be popular. Personally, I don't care. I figure it can only mean good things on the inside.

There was fresh paint on the columns along the concourse, which was also controversial to some because the Mavericks had listed the opening day lineups on several columns dating back to 1991. These were now gone. Again, not a big deal to me. Other than that, it didn't look much different. It appeared that the game day staffing that I had grown used to seeing were entirely gone. That may not be true, but I recognized nobody there. They had opened up the little merchandise booth to make it to where people could actually walk in. Well, God forbid you get a crowd of five in that place. That's how tiny it was. I looked over the caps (more on those in a bit) and my son wanted one. They had no 59Fifty child sizes so I had to go with a more generic cap. I took it up to the counter and the female team member (I guess) looked at it, checked a chart for the pricing (odd she had to consult a chart considering there were no more than 20 items in the store), and gave me my total. When I handed her my card, she went tharn. Apparently the card machine was not working at that moment. She asked if I could come back in a little while. Well, having to take the hat off my son was disappointing. He just asked why he couldn't wear it if we paid for it. I had to explain that the machine was broken and we'd have to come back. Fortunately that satisfied him. We left to find our seats.

He decided he wanted to sit in the second row (not like there was a shortage of available seats) I reconnected with an old friend who is a season ticket holder who attends every game. Had a nice chat about the changes, about how some of the other regulars aren't there, and how he says this may be his last season attending as well. Sad. In the bottom of the first, a foul ball dribbled down the first base line and the first base coach scooped it up, preparing to toss it to the dugout. My friend yells his name, and he gets the ball tossed to him. He then turns around and hands the ball to my son. One thing I do miss about the good sized crowds is that it was filled with really awesome people. My son was ecstatic having a baseball.

Anyway, after a couple of innings I took my son back up to try again for the hat and grab a couple of hot dogs. We went back to the store, where the young lady assured us everything was back on line. So, we tried again. Except this time, when the tharn look reappeared, she explained that she had no idea how to use the machine. She said that she'd have to get the help of someone named Jessica. So she calls a guy selling programs, who says that Jessica is getting ready to do an onfield promotion at the conclusion of the half-inning. Well, there was only one out, so she tells me that I can wait, there's only two outs left. Now, I'm irritated, and after once again removing the hat from my son's head, I tell her that that I'll come back again and we're going to go grab some food. Argh.

We get in line after deciding that we both want a hot dog. The gentleman in front of us is crouched down talking through the small window saying "you're kidding? how long? 10 minutes? how could you be out?" I'm thinking no way he's talking about hot dogs. So sure enough, I go to order two hot dogs and the guy tells me that they're currently out of hot dogs and it would be about 10 minutes before they'd have any ready. Someone explain to me how in a game where maybe 75 people were physically in attendance (I'd stretch it to 100, maybe) do you not have enough hot dogs? Hot dogs, for crying out loud! So knowing my son is thirsty I opt to just get us some drinks. Except that's when I realize two things:

1) They no longer serve Coca-Cola products, but Pepsi instead
2) They don't offer fountain drinks.

First off, Pepsi products? Gross. And selling cans and bottles of soda? What is this, an elementary school fundraiser? If I'm going to a ball game I expect that I'm going to be able to sit and enjoy a hot dog with a soda in a cup with ice and a straw. Super lame.

So I have the option to buy a can of soda for $2 or a 20oz bottle for $3. So I bite the bullet and get myself a 20oz Mountain Dew (pretty much the only Pepsi product I can tolerate) and a Gatorade for my son since it's the closest thing they have to juice. We sit down and watch some more of the game. About 10 minutes later, I took us back over to try the hat again. Now I see Jessica sitting down watching the game. The merchandise girl saw me and again gives that tharn look. I said, pointing, "is that Jessica?" and then I went over and told Jessica that her employee needed help. So now I have two people trying to figure out how to work this machine. I got a few apologies for it being a new machine they weren't familiar with, but finally my son got to walk out wearing his Mavericks hat. Geez.

By that time the hot dogs were ready to go, so we went over and sat at a table by the home bullpen and watched some more of the game from there while we ate.

Then my son wanted to play on the so-called "grassy knoll" out by right field. Hey, he's three. He had a blast. Of course we did not have to interact with any other staff or mascot. (we only saw Wooly Bully once, and he still looks like a rodent) Outside of the baseball game, the entire experience was irritating, and seeing how nearly every aspect of my experience had deteriorated from even last season, as I said I doubt I'll be returning.

So, that's my report on how the High Desert Mavericks improved under new ownership in 2013.

One thing I've never understood is how this logo, the M with the black cowboy hat, has never been very popular. I think it is an amazing logo. Very simple, but with style. And the black and red colorway is very popular. I've always felt it was unfortunate that it hasn't held more of a presence in the eyes (and collections) of cap collectors. Also, other than switching the black and red between crown and visor, the Mavericks have never used another logo in their entire existence. That is, until 2012, when they introduced two new logos. Here are all three onfield caps of the High Desert Mavericks:

Home, road and the seldom, if ever worn alternate.

I'm just gonna say it up front. The middle one sucks. I have it because, well, I have to. But the HD font doesn't exist on anything else the team wears. If they had used to same font as the M, then maybe. Also, the rising sun with the mountains makes it reminiscent of the Del Taco logo. 
A stretch, perhaps, but it's what I always think of.


Now, as for that alternate cap, as much as I love a good simple letter logo, that cowboy (some call him the Marlboro Man) is amazing. It's not too gaudy as some similar caps tend to be, and has just enough attitude not look stupid. And it's just the cowboy. No trees or vegetables to distract. In my humble opinion, this should be the exclusive road cap of the team. Just my opinion.

Now, the M caps that didn't make the cut:

I have a lot of Mavs caps, as you can see.

Some nice ones. I chose to get the orange Marlins cap instead of the black because I just knew that would be the first one mothballed (not worn this season at all according to Chris Creamer of sportslogos.net.) Also, the throwback Mariners cap is the cap worn when I first started following baseball closely. Love that one.

And then the issue of the Midland Angels. (yes, I know it's dusty) One thing I always loved about the Angels minor league teams is that they always incorporated the halo into their logo. Here, the M is in front of the outline of Texas, star indicating Midland's place in the state. The halo placed around the panhandle. So cool. I have caps of Lake Elsinore and Quad Cities that have the halo as well. It's the little touches that make the difference.

Anyway, after a delay, there is the letter M.



 

















Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - L

Today's cap representing Letter L is another that was a challenge. Not because I had a tough time choosing. I only have three. But of the three I had to choose from, all three have logos which nearly drown out the letter, and two of them are same team, same logo, just different colorways. So I went with the one which I've always liked best:

The former logo of the Lancaster JetHawks of the California League.

Back before life caught up with me I actually attended three or four JetHawks games per season. Lancaster is around an hour from where I live, so it was a nice little drive, but always a nice park to watch games. And by that, I mean there's nothing else to look at but the games. No real view out there to look at. Also a lot of wind. And it can be hot in the summer. You know, take my word for it, it's a nice place to catch a game.

So anyway, as I've mentioned I went through this phase where I was really into buying minor league baseball jerseys. The JetHawks jerseys, both home and road, were to die for. I had to have them. They went with this futuristic, yet retro Jetsons kind of look in the font. Very pleasing to the eyes.

Sleeveless home jersey.

Lancaster road jersey.

And of course they had to be #19. Both of these jerseys were worn by a pitcher named AJ Shappi, who made it as high as a few games with Tucson in the PCL in 2008. I love both of these jerseys. And I've said that I'm looking to purge a good percentage of my jersey collection, I can say that these two will not be available for sale.

But back to the cap, I always thought it was really unfortunate that Lancaster never chose to integrate this font or style into the cap logo. In fact, as you'll see momentarily, the cap that went with these jerseys was actually the original cap in a different color scheme. Those jerseys were completely different. They looked like this:

Must have been a 90s thing.

And here are the other two letter L caps I have, including the JetHawks cap that goes with this jersey.

The other cap is the defunct Lethbridge Black Diamonds.

Several years ago Lancaster rebranded completely, and now have a cap which does not feature any letter. I have not yet picked up that cap, but I'm sure I will someday. It has been far too long since I've been out that way for a game.      

On the whole, I like the Lancaster franchise, but there is always this bittersweet feeling I have towards them. You see, they were relocated there in 1996 after spending three years in Riverside, CA as the Riverside Pilots. The story behind my feeling regarding that is a long and sad one which I will save for another time.

For now, representing Letter L are the Lancaster JetHawks.

New Era Alphabet Challenge - K

So here I am again, working on the latest letter and having nothing in particular to say about it. Letter K is one where I only own a single cap with that letter. In fact, when I purchased this cap two years ago, that was actually the reason I bought it. Because I thought it looked cool and I didn't have a cap with the letter K.

So let's just cut to the chase:

Kingsport Mets. Rookie league affiliate of the, you guessed it!

It's hard to explain but I think that blue and orange work well together. Denver Broncos (prior to those nasty USFL jerseys they wear these days), New York Islanders (even though I don't like the team), and the New York Mets. And as I've previously stated, I really like minor league teams that incorporate the parent logo into their own. A simple Mets-esque K. Looks simple and beautiful. And actually, the only NY Mets cap I own is the same colorway as the Kingsport one.

I do intend on getting a standard Mets cap someday.
I acquired the Kingsport cap a couple of years back after checking every minor league website, which is something I do a month or so into baseball season. A lot of teams offer unique alternate caps that you won't see on any other website. I've gotten a lot of caps that way, directly from the team. This one, however I did order through Lids.com. The Kingsport website does not link directly to their store, but checking out their site did give me a good look at it, which made choosing to order it easy when I saw it available through Lids.

As I stated, I have no other cap featuring a single letter K, so here you go. Kingsport Mets, representing Letter K.

(I just found out while writing this that Kingsport is in Tennessee. Who knew?)

Friday, August 2, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - J

So today's cap is the toughest choice yet. When you're talking about J caps, these are some of the coolest ones I own. I mean, just look at these:

A dream come true for someone who likes parent team logo influence.

You've got, from left to right, Jacksonville Suns (throwback), Jacksonville Expos and (believe it or not) the current alternate cap of the Jacksonville Suns. Earlier this year I wrote extensively of my Jacksonville cap collection, which you can read about here.

The middle cap, the Jacksonville Expos cap, I must confess, is a "snapback." Back in the 80s when this cap was worn, we called it an "adjustable." And I must further confess that if this cap was fitted it probably would have been my selection to represent Letter J. I mean, come on. It's the Montreal Expos logo, one of the greatest ever, trimmed to a J. How freaking awesome is that? Doubtful that a fitted version of this cap will ever exist.

Or will it?

The New Era Flagship store in Miami, FL has a custom version of this cap, albeit in a different colorway, available for sale. At least they did as evidenced by the following blog entry by Benjamin Christensen (Twitter handle @shakabrodie) He has written extensively about this amazing cap. You can read about it here. Hopefully they still do as I'm hoping to somehow score one someday.

 So of the two remaining, which one did I choose to represent J? The Mets or Pirates lookalike? They are both incredible logos, but in the end I had to roll with this one:

Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver wore this cap! Well, not this one, but you get it.

From 1966-68 the Suns were affiliated with the New York Mets and wore this incredible cap. It is one of my favorites of my entire collection. Unfortunately, the Suns do not offer this cap for sale any longer on their website, which makes me grateful I bought it when I did.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - I

So now we're up to letter I. This one was really easy because I only have one cap with a single letter I in it. It's a team that plays in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. It's a team whose cap won my heart by doing the one thing that I love best about a Minor League Baseball logo. That is, integrate the parent club's logo into its own. This one goes a step further. It is essentially the same cap, just with a different letter.

Oddly enough, several letters ago I passed up parent cap of this team.

Here is the Iowa Cubs cap, in all its glory:


So simple. So beautiful. Other teams should pay attention.

This one was acquired in a very roundabout way. It started, actually, with a jersey purchase. I found an Iowa Cubs jersey on ebay which I purchased.

Worn by Ricky GutiƩrrez, who played with them briefly in 2004.

This was before I had any cap of theirs. Of course, once I had the jersey I had to have the cap. The only available cap at that time (nearly 10 years ago) was this one:

Leaves nothing to the imagination.

Eventually I saw that they had a new cap that was the Chicago Cubs-esque I and I had to have it. I had a nice little email exchange with their merchandise director and she was kind enough to facilitate my purchase and acquisition.

Iowa Cubs. Front view.

It's a very solid looking cap. If you (or someone you love) is a Chicago Cubs fan, I would highly recommend getting this one.

Incidentally, a gorgeously simple cap like this has always led me to wonder why minor league teams don't at the least have an alternate cap that mirrors the parent club? The Braves are the best at this (of course, almost all of their affiliates are called the Braves) The Dodgers used to do this. Great Falls had a great one. Also, the Jacksonville Suns had a cap that interlocked the JS in Dodgers fashion. Even the Angels, back in the day had many minor league affiliates that incorporated a halo around a letter in the logo. It's the small touches such as those that really show pride and a connection between a team and its parent club.

Difficult these days because teams want their own identity.

But that's another story.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - H

Today's cap has a little more of a background than the previous letter. My choice for H, despite having some decent competition, is a cap that comes from another learning experience from the early days of my collecting. Specifically, if you think you're gonna regret not getting it, then you'd better get it.

In an earlier installment of the Alphabet Challenge, I referenced a purchase made in 1996, and the StarStruck catalog that came with each purchase. After I received the catalog, I poured over it, studying every cap, every logo, dreaming of how cool it would be to have a number of these caps. I was quite limited in funds at that time, so I had to stick with what I considered essential, which were the three I had bought. The rest would have to wait.

Little did I realize that sometimes logos and affiliates change. By the time I got around to expanding my collection, several of the caps that I had my eyes on in '96 were no longer available. After a brief period of mourning, I started scouting eBay. Eventually I did come across a fitted version of one of the caps I'd coveted all those years ago.

It is representing letter H:

Defunct logo of the Helena Brewers.
There was just something about this one that caught my eye. I just knew this was one I wanted. I was very ecstatic when I was able to add this one to the collection. Let's just say it was a life changing experience. Now, I'm a lot less likely to hesitate if I think there's a chance a cap may not be available down the road. Sometimes I'm wrong, but those times when I jump and then find that the cap is no longer available, well, win for me.

Early last decade I also was into collecting Minor League baseball jerseys. A Helena Brewers road jersey became available on eBay and I got outbid at the last second. I was devastated! I knew (and I've been right for 10+ years) that I would never see another one. I always referred to that jersey as the one that got away. I'm over it now, mainly because I don't buy jerseys anymore, but it took a long time.

The current Helena Brewers logo is a nice one as well, though I have not picked one up. I probably will at some point, but I'm not as desperate for that one as I was this one. They did have a cap that had a variation of the current logo H inside a gold state of Montana. Very awesome, but it was one of those old meshy style BP caps. No thanks. Would love to see it on a 59Fifty. Here is a 39Thirty version of it from their website:

So Helena Brewers, think about it. If you build it, I will buy...

Anyway, to summarize, my advice to anyone who collects caps:  Just get it. Don't be that person who hesitates then regrets it later on when they can't find the cap. Just get it.

Now, onto the H caps that didn't make the cut:

Yes, I passed over the classic Houston Astros.

Funny thing about the Astros cap. When I was but a lad in the early 80s, my very first baseball hat was a mesh (now called "trucker") California Angels cap on sale in a Stater Bros grocery store. They had a rack full of these caps, and my dad would let me get one every month for a while. The mesh version of this Astros cap was the second cap I had gotten. I think I was caught up in the hype of Nolan Ryan's no-hitter, but the logo is somewhat nostalgic for me. I ended up with about 10 mesh caps, but they are long gone.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - G

Moving on tonight to Letter G. I honestly don't have any particular story behind the cap I chose. I remember I bought it for its simplicity and unique colorway. Also, the team is an affiliate of the Red Sox, so the G was stylized to look like their cap, except this one was done in a deep green, so it looked cool.

Greenville Drive. One letter says it all.

Yes, the Greenville Drive. Not a very exciting name. Especially considering they were the Capital City Bombers for 12 years prior. Of course, naming your team Capital City is kinda lame as well.

As I said, no real story behind this one. I just like the color. Good looking hat. Not much else to say about it.

Here are the other two G caps I own:

Both of these are Greeneville Astros caps.
I like that orange hat so much, if I were to do this again in another year I might choose it to represent G.

And that's all I have to say about that.


Monday, July 29, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - F

Today's cap choice not only represents the letter F in my Alphabet Cap Challenge, but also represents a tough lesson I learned about cap collecting. That is, don't get rid of a cap if there is the slightest chance that you might want that cap again someday. Actually, now I don't ever get rid of any caps.

Well, I did give a University of Wyoming cap to a friend, but that's excusable because I had three of them, and the one I gave her was a few sizes too large. I actually have two entire New Era 24 cap carriers filled with duplicates. But those are for years down the road in case of loss, or God forbid, another theft.

Anyway, the cap representing letter F is...

I really didn't care about losing this one, until it became the one I couldn't live without.

In 1993, on the eve of the inaugural seasons of the newly minted Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins, I decided to make a trip to my local sports apparel store, which if I recall was a Pro Image located in the outlet mall in Barstow. My goal was simply to acquire my first Rockies cap.

I had decided to become a Rockies fan for two reasons:
1) I have family in the vacinity (Wyoming, actually)
2) On visits to see said family, I fell in love with Colorado.

It was difficult, seeing how I had grown up a California Angels fan. I figured it was no big deal. I could root for both. They played in different leagues and never played during the regular season. (a valid statement until interleague play ruined everything) So I was off to purchase that first Rockies cap. When I got there, they also had the cap of the other expansion team, the Florida Marlins.

Now, keep in mind I was not necessarily a "collector" at that point, but there was something about that awful teal and weird fish that just made me have to buy that cap. So I left the store with one of each.

I honestly don't think I ever wore the Marlins cap.

I'm not entirely positive but I believe I gave that cap to my at-the-time girlfriend's younger brother. That was 1995 when that happened. I did not miss that cap until around 2010, when talk started circulating that the Marlins were planning on changing their name to the Miami Marlins and doing a complete rebranding. That would mean no more teal. And it had been many years since the Marlins had donned the all teal cap during a game anyway. Who really liked teal anyway?

I reflected on how I once owned that cap. Oh, what was I thinking? How could I just give a cap away like that? Why didn't somebody tell me that 15 years later I'd really, really be wanting that cap?

So I trolled eBay and eventually found a mid-90s model. High crown and everything. It was fine, but then one day I found a more modern version at lids.com. Yes, made in China. Yes, it has that uniquely velvety material and pizza box visor, but oh man it's a good looking cap.

I proudly select this cap to represent the letter F, and give my solemn promise that I will never part with this cap again.

And for the record, the one I bought on eBay is inside one of the cap carriers, just in case.

Like E, I have a limited number of F caps. Here are the other two that I own.

I don't know why I bought the Fresno cap, honestly. However, I love the Frederick cap.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - E

Today's cap representing E could be split into three different blog posts. Interesting considering this isn't a standout classic logo like some of the others have been. In fact, it's a somewhat obscure short season minor league cap. It just happens to have one of the coolest and creative logos to come out in quite a few years.

So without further adieu...

Turning the Seattle Mariners classic trident logo 90 degrees. Ahhh... clever.

The road cap of the Seattle Mariners short season-A Northwest League affiliate Everett Aquasox. Purple and aqua never looked so good together. And as for that logo? It's so simple, just a twist on the throwback Mariners trident logo. How did nobody think of this before? It's perfectly genius!

This leads me to something which I will only briefly touch on. This logo was the work of a design firm then known as Plan B Branding, now known as Brandiose. Those with whom I've had more in depth discussions about logos know how I feel about Brandiose. They've done some great work, as evidenced here as well as the now defunct Casper Ghosts, Tulsa Drillers etc. But the work they've done lately, in my opinion, has been an exercise in how gaudy and tacky can one make a team's identity. Clearly, they are doing something right because by and large, people are clamoring for their business, and the sales of rebranded merchandise seems to be doing very well for the teams who do utilize their services. I just look at minor league logos in particular in terms of longevity. And none of the recent rebranding efforts I've seen have that future classic quality. They are very flashy, but I just don't think 20 years from now someone is going to look at a piece of asparagus on a cap and go oh yeah, love that Ports cap. That's not to say I don't respect the work they do, some of it is fantastic, but there's a reason why the E representative is the Everett trident E and not the Eugene Emeralds Sasquatch footprint E. I just don't like the look of it. My hope is that this recent trend of over the top jersey colors and cap logos ends quickly. People shouldn't have to look at the cap I'm wearing and go "what the heck is that?" A team's logo is its identity. It should to an extent represent the story of that team. It should not, however, have to literally tell a story.

Just my two cents.

Also, this particular cap is made in China, as opposed to traditional minor league caps which were made in the United States. I went through a phase where I was appalled at the quality of the Chinese caps. There really is a completely different feel to them. Everywhere from the visor, to the crown. Even the fabric is different. Some are worse than others. Again, I could get into a lot more detail, but I won't. Let's just say that even though this Everett cap is my choice to represent the letter E, wearing this cap today reminded me of why I developed such a deep disdain for the Chinese made caps. The crown feels too high and the visor feels like it was cut from a take home pizza carton. I seriously wish there was a way I could get a replacement of this cap with a guarantee that it would be a US made one.

On a side note, this season's crop of minor league caps I did get included some that surprisingly were US made. I was very pleased.

Moving on, I don't have a lot of caps that sport the letter E, so here are the rest. Or the other two:

Defunct caps. Edmonton Trappers and the old Eugene Emeralds.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - D

Letter D was not as big of a challenge for me as the last few days. In fact this one should be fairly obvious, but that could have been said for the last two as well. However, this one is unique as it will always remind me of a television program from my early adolescence. So cue the Mike Post theme music... Representing Letter D is...

Detroit Tigers. Just so cool.

Anybody who grew up in the 80s has to have at some point stumbled across Tom Selleck in the fantastic show "Magnum, P.I." Say what you want, Magnum was just cool. He lived in a cool house in Hawaii and drove a cool car. Though I was in my early teens, the thing that always stood out to me was the fact that he almost always wore a baseball cap. Not just any cap, but a genuine cap of a Major League Baseball team. That team was the Detroit Tigers. This was long before sporting team merchandise was a thing. If you did see anyone wearing caps, it was of the mesh/adjustable variety. (myself included)  Magnum's appeared to be quite authentic. It sort of made me jealous that I didn't have an authentic Angels cap. This wouldn't have been possible in 1982 as there wasn't anywhere local to me that would have carried such an item. Nevertheless, the Tigers cap is as classic and timeless as any of the other logos that have been in use for the better part of 100 years. Though the Tigers have had some alternate caps in recent years, any change to the primary logo, in use since the early 1920s, would be criminal. So thanks to Thomas Magnum for inspiring me to have this cap in my collection. Okay, I would have this cap regardless, but I will always think of that show when I see the Tigers cap.

The coolest moustache outside of John Oates.

So since I've chosen the Detroit Tigers as my cap to represent the Letter D, here's the modest collection of other D caps I own.
Is it Denver Broncos, or Durham Bulls? (joking)

One last thing about choosing the Tigers cap. As most people know, my favorite baseball team is the Colorado Rockies. I've been a fan since Day One and I bleed Rockies purple. Nobody can question my loyalty that I have for this team. I own nearly 30 unique Rockies caps, by far more than any team in any sport. However, I am a collector, and as a collector I enjoy owning, and occasionally wearing caps of other MLB teams. There are many other people like me, and I don't think any rational person would question our loyalty to our favorite teams.

So imagine my amusement when I stumbled across this editorial on strictlyfitteds.com today (the day I'm wearing a Detroit Tigers cap) that more or less states that people who do this have "no excuse to wear the cap of a team you don't root for." The reason? President Obama.

Read it here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - C

Today I had a lot of really classic caps to choose from. Some classic Major League Baseball teams happen to sport a solitary letter C on the front of their cap. But I decided to go with one that has a little more personal historical value.

Representing the letter C:

UConn, not Yukon.

University of Connecticut Huskies. I happen to be a fan of their basketball team, men and women. The story behind how I became a UConn fan is the subject of an earlier blog post, which you can view here if you're curious. It's a funny story, actually.

But as far as the cap goes, here's some background: I purchased this cap in 1996 after receiving my very first StarStruck catalog*. I purchased this cap along with a St. Paul Saints and a Salt Lake Buzz cap. My serious collecting was in its infancy, but it was really one of the first caps I acquired that was outside of my comfort zone of Angels, Rockies, Lake Elsinore Storm and a handful of other ones I had picked up on trips to Colorado. Mail ordering caps was new to me. Back then you had to actually dial a number and place an order over the phone. There was no computer tracking number. You just had to wait patiently for the mail to arrive every day. Sigh... the 90s...

I have since acquired an updated version of this cap, with a fancier C and a navy button instead of the white one here. I like it, but it'll never match the simple elegance of this one. Also, even though I don't really talk about NCAA basketball much, UConn is one of the few teams I follow that have actually won a championship. And if you read the story I linked above, there is always that element where a memory of my father is involved. And that's why I chose this cap to represent letter C.

Sorry Cubs fans.

Here are some of the other C caps I have that I also own:

Some great logos, but not as much meaning to me.

I want to point out that the front left cap (Connecticut Tigers) is in my opinion one of the coolest logos in minor league baseball. An old English C? Oh, how I love it when a minor league team incorporates the parent logo into their own.


* If you never browsed a StarStruck catalog it is indeed a shame. I think old school cap collectors will agree that they were as close to a hat bible as you could get. It was a sad day when StarStruck stopped carrying minor league baseball caps.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Era Alphabet Challenge - B

Today's letter might prove to be somewhat unpopular with some baseball purists. There are some obvious choices when it comes to caps sporting the letter B, and it may raise some eyebrows that I did not select one that people think I should.

But that's why I'm blogging about this.

And for the record, I don't even own a Boston Red Sox cap, so chowds can stop reading right now.

I own nine caps sporting a single B on the front, and the one I've chosen to wear today is this one:

Simple. Clean. Sharp. Bakersfield Blaze.

I fell in love with this cap the first moment I laid eyes on it. Solid black, black scripted B accented by orange and white. After a few years of sporting the so-called flaming leaf logo, the Blaze smartly rebranded, deciding to go against the trend of gaudy and grandiose (ha) and rolling out this very simple look. It's a classic and timeless logo, and I for one place this in the top echelon of minor league baseball caps.

In case you're curious or have never seen it, here is the previous Blaze logo:

Seriously.

At first I was skeptical, but of course I had to have one. Now that it's defunct, I'm sure glad I do have one.

And what of the letter B caps I passed over? Well, here's a quick glimpse:
Brought to you by the letter...
So as you can see I passed on the classic Brooklyn Dodgers cap. This is not a slight to them, I'm just more at home with minor league logos, I guess. The Dodgers in particular are a team whose history is overwhelming, and in no way can anyone diminish what they accomplished socially. Truth be told, I simply wear the Bakersfield cap more.

Ironically, when Bakersfield was a minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 90s, this is the cap they wore: