Well, the title of this blog post ain’t short but in this episode of “Baseball Shorts” we will talk about how the baseball cap got introduced and how it became popular.
In the early days of baseball, it was the player’s responsibility to wear something to keep the sun from blinding them. For sure there may have been a hodge podge of headwear.
It is said that the New York Knickerbockers were the first to wear straw hats so the team looked uniform. But a few years later the team ditched the straw hats for a wool cap produced by Peck & Snyder. This new cap was made with a flat, panelled crown made from merino wool and and short visor to help shield the players’ eyes from the sun.
In 1860, the Brooklyn Excelsiors wore the ancestor of the modern rounded-top baseball cap, which featured a long peak and a button on top. Then around 1905, the pillbox cap became popular. Later in the 1970s several teams played with a pillbox cap again. The Philadelphia Athletics wore a pillbox cap from 1909 to 1914 and in those years the team won four American League Pennants and four World Series so the team stuck with it for a while.
From 1901 through 1925, the eight-panel cap was a popular design in baseball. As the name implies, the cap had eight panels with a short brim.
Except for the Major Leagues, everyone could wear the hat he wanted to shade his eyes until 1954. In that year, New Era introduced the 59Fifty cap, named after the material that was used. Eventually, in 1993 the cap would become the official cap of MLB. But with the introduction of the cap in 1954, New Era set a standard for other hat producers.
Where it was hard to purchase a cap of your favorite team in the past, nowadays you can almost buy a cap of any team (MLB, MiLB, College or Collegiate) at any corner of the street. The baseball cap has become a fashion statement.