This series is inspired by the must-read book “All Caps, Stories That Justify an Outrageous Hat Collection” by Craig Colby. Craig wrote this book about the many caps he has and the stories behind it. Anyhow, this series will be about the caps I own and the stories behind them.
In today’s episode of “Personal Stories About Ballcaps,” we pay attention to the cap of the Solingen Alligators, which is one of my favorites.
The team from the city that calls itself “Klingenstadt” (blade city, as a lot of knifes and scissors are/were made in Solingen) won two German championships, one in 2014 and one in 2006. As a result, the cap sports two stars on top of the cap logo.
The seed of buying this cap was planted in 2018. In that year, Swedish-born Jakob Syrén played for one of my two favorite teams in the Dutch Hoofdklasse: Oosterhout Twins. He had a terrific year in which he was mainly brought in in late innings when there were runners on the bases. Most of the time he managed to get out without or with little damage. Sometimes he needed a lot of pitches, but nevertheless he was a reliable hurler. Despite this good season, his contract with Twins wasn’t extended for the 2019 season and yours truly wrote a promotional blog post about him that was posted all over Facebook. Eventually the Solingen Alligators jumped in.
So in 2019, I decided to head to Solingen to see Jakob and to meet the head coach of my favorite German club, Dohren Wild Farmers. In those days, their head coach was Caleb Cooper Fenimore.
After a long drive, I arrived at the ballpark while the first game of the double header had already started. When I saw Jakob and we shook hands and had an extensive chat about baseball in Germany. He claimed Solingen wasn’t that exciting as there was not much to do (his words, not mine 😉 ).
Between the games, I met Caleb and their future head coach Jan Hassenplug. I still had to attend a game in Dohren, but that would happen later that year. Also with these two guys, I had a nice chat.
During the second game, I tried to buy an authentic on-field cap, but the person behind the counter of the merchandise stand claimed the board of the club did not allow that. Those caps were for the flagship team only. As a result, they only sold mesh caps the lower teams played with. After a bit of mulling, I decided to go for that one, since it was still an on-field cap, even though not of the flagship team.
My shot for a cap of the flagship team would come two years later. Since I wanted that cap so badly, I contacted one of the players of the club I happen to know, and asked him if he could arrange a cap like that. Of course, I wanted to pay for it and of course I asked for a second one for buddy, the fellow cap collector in The Hague.
Eventually, this player, who is a salesman for a German company had to be in Turnhout (Northern Belgium), so we met there. At the parking lot of a supermarket near the town center he handed over the caps. So as a result, I now have two Solingen Alligators caps: one on-field caps for the lower teams and one for the flagship team.
What I like about the latest cap is the advertisement on the side. But on top of that, there is this 30th anniversary patch on the left side of the cap, which makes it rather unique. All in all a real collectors item.
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