Thursday, January 31, 2013

Latest Acquisition: Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

The story of Major League Baseball's unusual 1999 "Turn Ahead The Clock" promotion is well documented, so I won't get into to much detail into. If you want to use your internet provider of choice to search for it, by all means. What I have learned is that it was the Seattle Mariners in 1998 who had a successful implementation of this promotion for a game set in the year 2027 (their 50th anniversary) only to be ruined a year later as MLB allowed Century 21 to sponsor it and change the date to 2021 (get it?) And it was all downhill from there.

So my personal recollection of the promotion as it happened is as follows:

None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

In 1998 (and 1999 for that matter) I was living in my first apartment with local cable and America Online. So basically I had no connection to the outside sports world. My lifeline was the subscription I had to the Los Angeles Times. My 2400 baud dial-up modem was not very conducive to getting rapid fire info on my favorite teams, let alone tell me anything about these cool promotions that were going on.

My cap collecting, however, had begun in earnest. And it was during a relatively routine search for Colorado Rockies caps that I came across this one:

Metallic silver visor. Very futuristic!
Yes, the Rockies had apparently participated in this event, so naturally I had to get the cap. To this day this is my favorite Rockies cap. I so wish I had gotten a second one. I actually found one on eBay a few years ago and bought it. The next day I got a message from the seller saying that the listing was made in error and he didn't actually have the cap. I have not seen one since.

But I digress. I remember looking at's site that day and seeing all the other caps that were available from that promotion to purchase. I browsed them, but not having the sense of future (no pun intended) urgency that I have now I passed on some of the unique styles. In hindsight, the Seattle Mariners cap would be one I'd like to have. Most notably, the New York Mets, who that night went with the moniker of "Mercury Mets" and had a cap that was nothing like the Mets logo we all know and love. It was easily the most unique of the promotion, and I've always kept the occasional eye on eBay for any type of merchandise related to this promotion, just in case something came up.

Last week, it did. An auction for a genuine Turn Ahead The Clock New Era cap size 7 3/8 came up and I pounced. Today it arrived. Behold:

Holy crap! I now actually own a Mercury Mets cap!

So one of the premium items on my wish list can now be scratched off. Here's the funny thing about why I didn't hesitate at grabbing this listing. My Rockies TATC cap is a 7 1/4, which is my usual size. For some reason that cap fits a size small. (Fortunately with the New Era wooden block this is not a problem) With this cap being listed a size larger, I took a shot that it would fit like my size. And it does! It is a perfect fit!

Front view. New Era should totally make a line of planet caps.

For those puzzled by the logo, this is the astronomical symbol for the planet Mercury. Although the subject of much ridicule, you have to admit it is very creative. I know there are collectors (and some Mets fans) who would love to have one of these. I just got lucky.

Just in case anyone was totally confused.

If you've never seen the Turn Ahead The Clock jerseys, check to see your favorite team. They range from slightly cool and unique to absolutely hideous and unimaginative. Here is the Mercury Mets jersey. You be the judge:

Recently sold on eBay for $223

I actually did acquire the Rockies version of this jersey some time ago. I never wear it. It looks silly on me. Still, I'm glad I own it.

Ahead of its time, so to speak.

And though introduced in 1999 representing the year 2021, this logo actually appears on the new 2013 Rockies batting practice caps.

So since it appeared on a jersey 14 years ago, but won't actually debut for 8 more years, it's sort of back to the future, right?

And here are the two Turn Ahead The Clock caps I own, side by side.

Mercury Mets and Colorado Rockies - Turn Ahead The Clock 1999

I'm actually very pleased that this cap will now sit in my collection. I would say it could possibly be the rarest cap in my collection, though that is subjective to what makes a cap rare. Based on the interest I know this particular cap has I'd say it has a good shot at holding that title. For the sake of those that would like to own a piece of that unique promotion I hope that New Era might someday soon remake some of these caps.

Maybe then I'd buy a second one. Just in case.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Latest Acquisition - Tidewater Tides and How I Make It Fit Properly

Each year as the new minor league baseball season begins I take a little time and look through each official website to see what, if any, new cap designs are being worn for the new season. Yeah, that's 160 websites. Usually it's the same old thing, but once in a while I come across something unique. Occasionally it'll be something of a throwback design. This was the case a few years back looking at the site of the Norfolk Tides. Back when they were affiliated with the New York Mets they had a cap which harkened back to their days when they played as the Tidewater Tides (from 1963-1992) and it was just like the NY Mets cap, but with a 'T' instead of the 'NY.' One of my favorite minor league logos are those which incorporate the parent club into theirs. So I was definitely getting me one of these. Alas, they didn't have it in my size. But a very polite email I received from their director of merchandising said that they weren't sure if they were doing the Tidewater throwback promotion that season, but she'd take my info and let me know if the cap became available in my size.

That never happened, and that next season the Tides changed affiliations from the Mets to the Baltimore Orioles.

Then, a few days ago I saw a Tidewater Tides cap in my size for sale on eBay! Scooped it up, amazingly fast shipping and POW!! Got it yesterday!

Too simple for some. Simply awesome to me.

One problem (and it was mentioned in the listing) the seller said was that although it is a 7 1/4 it was a bit tight. That happens sometimes with New Era caps. Especially ones made in the US. (as opposed to made in China, but that's a blog for a different day) This is not a problem for me, because some 10 years ago, for reasons I cannot recall, New Era was selling off these amazing blocks that apparently they used to mold caps. Seeing a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy something that would prove invaluable to me, I bought this thing.

Behold! A wooden block that shapes caps into my size!!!

How does it work? Well, simple. You just take your tight fitting cap and place it over the wooden block like so:

You take your tight fitting cap and place... oh I already said that.

Leave it on for a few minutes, and presto! Your cap is molded to your size and is ready to wear! After removing the sticker and brushing the visor to rub out the circle left behind, of course.

Really, I'm pleased. Not grouchy at all as this gritty picture may make me appear.

I cannot tell you how much usage I've gotten out of this thing. Like I said, I don't know why New Era was selling these. Upgrading to something that doesn't look like it's from 1920, perhaps? I'm just lucky that I was on their website at that time and one of those was available in my size. Oh, what was the cost of this wooden block? A bit pricey, in my opinion, but naturally they sold them for $59.50. Yeah. That I do remember.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Why I Root For: Ottawa Senators

So I have had several ideas for my latest update. I was thinking about doing another featured cap. I was thinking about doing one about my criticism of the latest rebrandings of minor league teams. I was thinking about doing one about the dark day in 2007 when I lost 32 caps in a targeted break in. These are all subjects I will be broaching in the near future. But tonight I want to talk about my beloved Ottawa Senators. Fresh off of another victory over the Florida Panthers, the Sens are now 3-0 on the new season. And while I realize it's only three games into the new season, that is us in first place in the Northeast Division and Eastern Conference! Go Sens Go!!! So it is with this enthusiasm where I think I'll get into the bizarre yet true story about why I root for the Ottawa Senators.

What business does a boy from the Southern California desert have being an ice hockey fan? Yes, I remember watching the Miracle On Ice in 1980, but who doesn't remember that moment? For the rest of the 80s I have nary a single hockey memory. No, that's not true. I remember somewhere in the early 80s listening to KFI (when they played music!) and hearing the DJ talk about, with tongue firmly placed in cheek, how exciting it was that the lowly Los Angeles Kings had won that night equaling their longest winning streak of the season to date: one game. I do recall at one point in 1990 or 1991 being at a friend's house as he was watching the deciding game of a playoff series between the Kings and Edmonton Oilers, Kings losing of course. I had no clue what was going on. I knew who Wayne Gretzky was, but that was it. I didn't care. Hell, a member of our circle of friends circa 1990 was a Canadian chap who actually played goaltender in junior hockey. Boy, the conversations I wish I had had with him. But I didn't care. It wasn't until late 1992, when I was in my first band and our drummer was showing up late for practice because he was watching Kings games on Prime Ticket. Knowing little to nothing about hockey, I asked him what the big deal was and he said that he couldn't really explain it. I'd just have to watch a game.

I was running the liquor department in a grocery store at the time and that meant shifts from 7am-4pm. So one fine day in February 1993 I made the decision that when my shift ended I would stop by Subway to grab a sandwich, go home and plop myself down in front of my little 13" television and watch the LA Kings play the Quebec Nordiques.

Holy crap. I was hooked.

I jumped in to NHL fandom with every fiber of my being. I watched every game I could. I read every newspaper article. I learned names, positions, coaches, tried to remember rules. Pre-internet it was brutal. One had to watch the sports ticker through 900 NCAA college basketball games just to wait for the NHL scores to flash by. Regardless, it was just so exciting for a guy from the desert who couldn't ice skate to save his life.

As I was watching that first game I grabbed the sports section of the San Bernardino County Sun and looked at the NHL standings. There at the bottom was this team from Ottawa who at that point in the season had a record of something like 4 wins 40 losses and some ties. I don't remember specifically. I do remember thinking damn, these guys suck. I found out that it was their inaugural season and I kinda started feeling sorry for them. I would check the paper each morning to see if they would win any more games that season. They eventually won 10.

Since Prime Ticket was the only channel airing NHL games I really had no choice but to root for the Kings. No problem. That was the year they went to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to Montreal 4 games to 1 thanks to the momentum-shifting curved stick of Marty McSorley. My sympathy case Ottawa Senators finished with the worst record in the league.

The 1993-94 season started and I found myself rooting more for the Senators. But it wasn't until they played the Kings for the first time that season when I realized that I wanted them to beat the Kings. That's when I knew I wasn't meant to bandwagon on the team that had Wayne Gretzky and had just been to the Finals. I was destined to stick it out with these guys from Canada's capital city. At some point that season I got my very first hockey jersey. A road Ottawa Senators jersey.

Who? My first Senators jersey. My plan is to someday get this customized with #19 Alexei Yashin.

Turned out a lot of my friends jumped on the NHL bandwagon. Our circle had fans of the Canucks, Flyers, Maple Leafs (gag), Blackhawks and Kings. We even started playing street hockey. Damn, we thought we knew everything there was to know. Their teams all made the playoffs. My Senators won 14 games that year, but I stuck with them.

In the 1994 season I actually got to see a Senators game televised, and in 1995 I made a trip to Anaheim to watch them get pounded by the Mighty Ducks. There were maybe three other people in Sens jerseys there and they all asked me if I was from Ontario. I thought they meant Ontario, CA which was right up the freeway, when they meant Ontario, Canada. The game was a disaster, a 5-1 loss and worst of all some stupid little kid taunted me after the game by saying "Senenators suck! Senenators suck!" Little bastard. I wanted to throw him over the railing. That kid is probably 24 or 25 now and I still want to kick his ass. I also started participating on AOL bulletin boards dedicated to the team. There were seven of us, I think, but man we could talk some mad shit. It was hilarious. Some of these guys were actually from Ottawa. One of them used to send me ticket stubs and programs. I felt like I was part of some cool little club.

So it was very exciting in 1997 when we actually made the playoffs for the first time. Though we lost to Buffalo in the first round it provided some legitimacy to this team that had been so futile for so long. 1998 provided another trip to the postseason and a shocking upset victory over the New Jersey Devils. The win in game six of that series is still one of the happiest sports moments of my entire life. The aforementioned bulletin board friend sent me the Ottawa Citizen paper from that game which is framed and hanging on my wall to this day. I also got my second Senators jersey.

#14 Radek Bonk. Because it's just cool to walk around with Bonk on your back.

Not long after that, when my passion for New Era caps grew I had a hard time finding anything for Ottawa. Thanks to a close friend I met on that same bulletin board, I eventually acquired my first NHL Senators cap.

I should have gotten two.

 I've since acquired quite the stable of Ottawa Senators jerseys.

First Sens alternate (later road) jersey #19 Jason Spezza

Second Sens alternate #18 Marian Hossa

In a flurry of Stanley Cup excitement I got this #1 Ray Emery jersey

I also got this late 90s road jersey on eBay with #16 Sergei Zholtok

Eventually after becoming a so-called "elite" team, regularly making the postseason the Sens made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007 losing to those stupid Anaheim Ducks. But that was the most amazing feeling, seeing this team for which I rooted for so many dark years finally make it to that level.

After that season there was a rebranding of sorts.

New Reebok jerseys #11 Daniel Alfredsson

And finally, the 20th Anniversary Heritage jersey. I love this jersey so much, I'll post both sides!

And eventually New Era started making NHL caps in earnest.

The first new logo New Era cap I got. All black

Solid red.

Two-tone custom from

This custom I got from Hat Club. Works well when wearing the heritage jersey.

So a lot of people assume I'm from Canada when they find out I'm an Ottawa Senators fan. And while I do have distant family somewhere in Ontario (Orillia) I'm born and raised in SoCal. And while it is a bit of fib when I tell people I've been a fan since day one, I took notice of them their first season, so what's the harm? This team won 33 games over their first three seasons. Ain't nobody gonna call me a bandwagonner. I love my Rockies and my Seahawks, but it's this team that is my very favorite in my favorite sport. I have such a passion for this team, and I am proud of it. And while being someone from the SoCal desert who has no business liking hockey, let alone loving a team from eastern Canada, I've stuck with them through thick and thin, and isn't that what makes being a sports fan so much fun?

One final thing - I was proud of the Kings for winning the Stanley Cup last season. Sort of a full circle thing for me. But it's our turn now. It's our turn. I want to die happy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Today's Featured Caps: Jacksonville Suns

Today I'm going to talk about the most unique collection of minor league baseball caps I own from the same team: The Jacksonville Suns of the Double-A Southern League, currently affiliated with the Miami Marlins. But first, a few words about what the hell happened to me (aside from having two children)

So it's been more than 18 months since I last posted anything on this blog, but two fellow Twitter-using cap collectors have inspired me to start up again. I'll try to keep the posts more frequent than posting only in years ending with an odd number.

So in my attempts to spread the good word about how awesome it is collecting caps, I attempted a Facebook Page which I update with photos of the new caps that I acquire. I received a decent amount of attention last summer when I won a Lids contest where they gave a $75 gift card to the person who could prove they had the largest cap collection. So in order to prove it I had to pose in front of my caps. Lids posted the picture to their Facebook page and for the duration of that day I had to read comments from people saying I was old, fat, a virgin, living in my mom's basement, had no life, had no money, etc... Also, some who felt the picture wasn't real and was from inside of a store. The fact that I wasn't wearing shoes was a tip to some that it was indeed my place. (I honestly did not expect them to post the photo with me in it) I was also wearing my neon green Seahawks jersey which also garnered some criticism. People criticized the caps I owned, the teams I liked, the teams I didn't own and more. Annoyingly, some said I sucked because I didn't have "snapbacks." Really? Mostly, it was people who just said they were jealous of my collection. In the end it was the most entertaining few hours I'd spent on Facebook probably ever. Absolutely had a great time reading those. I'm sure you could track it down if you had the patience to look. It's worth it. Anyway, I tried to deflect those who were interested to said Facebook page. I currently stand at 73 likes.

I attempted a Twitter Page which I honestly get the most enjoyment out of. I've met some really cool people, and it's a lot easier to interact than Facebook. So that's where you'll see most of what I'm doing with my caps and sports stuff. And occasionally some other musings. As of tonight I stand at 70 followers, and I'm pretty sure only a handful are fake or porn accounts.

So now on with the collection!

Okay, another disclaimer: For 2013 I'm going to try to take a few days a week and wear a cap that I ordinarily neglect. What I mean, is that during the course of any given season I will wear a particular cap every day, particularly if I'm feeling it's going to bring luck or good vibes or whatever. (if it worked, my blog wouldn't imply futility, right?) I'm going to try and buck that trend. I have some very cool pieces in my collection and I want to try them out again. So let's begin...

I have four Jacksonville caps and each of them have nothing in common with each other aside from the team name. Well, except for this first one. I acquired this one via eBay maybe five or six years ago. It's an adjustable* New Era cap that is typical of caps I have from the mid-1980s. With a high and wide crown and a strange mesh-like material. It's really more of a collector's piece than something I'd actually wear. 

Jacksonville Expos (1970, 1984-1990)

Jacksonville Expos. Now, nothing excites me more in a minor league cap than when a team incorporates the parent team logo into its own. Holy crap, is that the style of Montreal 'M' but a 'J'? Brilliant. If I could have a fitted New Era version of this one I'd have to own three because eventually I'd wear them out. Awesome. But in case you're wondering what this would look like being worn, check this out:

Recognize this dude?

So next we move on the Suns caps. This one is from when the Suns were affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers. About the Dodgers, love 'em or hate 'em you can not deny they have one of the classiest logos in all of baseball. So for a time it was a thing for their minor league affiliates to have a cap which incorporated their logo. (I should do a blog featuring those caps) Behold...

Jacksonville Suns Sunday cap worn during their Dodgers affiliation (2001-2008)

This next one, I recently was told, is a throwback to the era of NY Mets affilation in the 60s. From when Nolan Ryan was on the team. I initially believed it to be some sort of Mets look, but was told it was a nod to the University of Florida, which has the same colors. Alas, it was the team itself who tweeted me to tell me it was actually a throwback. Either way, a solid color cap with a letter insignia. Yes, please.

Affiliated with the Mets (1966-1968)

And finally, the mystery cap. To me it looks like it wants to be a Pittsburgh Pirates cap. I can find no history of affiliation with the Pirates. I think I will ask the team what say they about it. Yellow crown, black visor, 'J' stylized in Pirates fashion. If I'm wrong, let me know. You can still find it on the Suns website listed as Fitted Alternate Cap.

Nice look.

For a period this cap was the default choice of my then one-year old son who would go into my office and want me to wear this cap. That reason alone makes this a special cap.

So on New Year's Day I decided to wear the throwback Mets cap for no reason other than it's a great looking cap that I don't wear very often. I will be selecting other caps throughout the year for this same reason. My hope is that I will be able to chronicle my choice, and other caps as well, because I love collecting them, and I know there are other freaks....errrr.... collectors like me who like to see what what's in other collectors' collections.

So until next time... follow me on Twitter and let me know what you think.

*Back in the day we didn't call them "snapbacks." We called them "adjustables" and they suck as much now as they did then. No offense to anyone who thinks they are superior to fitteds. Then again, yeah, offense.