Friday, January 13, 2012

Death of a Baseball Cap

Shouldn’t have put it in the washing machine, but a close look at the battered old baseball cap worn for beach walks told me that it was in bad need of a wash and I thought, 100 percent cotton so why not? Looking a tad grubby and sweat stained, maybe an ounce of sea salt soaked into the cotton, I can’t even remember where the cap came from, or when, but it must have been from a local shop selling beach gear and at the time probably four or five dollars. So, I tossed it in the wash and unknowingly turned it into a clump of useless shredded cotton. An hour later I was looking for a new baseball cap.


Place names or brand names are not a ‘design’ feature I like on shirts, shorts and caps. Plain is fine, but clothing manufacturers today have found a way to make plain more expensive, so most of the time we get stuck with names on our shirts and caps. In a store up the road that specializes in beachwear and equipment I found something like 2,000 baseball caps—all but three of them with NEW SMYRNA BEACH embroidered on the peak. The three exceptions were pink with glitter sparkles. But after all, a baseball cap is a trifling thing not worth anguishing over, and so my new baseball cap carries the name of where I live just like ninety percent of all the other baseball caps on the beach.


The baseball cap as we know it today was first worn by the Brooklyn Excelsiors in the mid 1800s. It became an official part of the baseball uniform on April 24, 1849 when the New York Knickerbockers unveiled their club uniform. In 1860, the Excelsiors wore the ancestor of modern rounded-top baseball caps, and by 1900 the cap with a long visor and a button on top became popular. Modern baseball caps evolved in the 1940s as latex rubber replaced coarse cotton as the stiffening inside the visor. The brim or visor was much shorter and the cap has also become more structured and unlike the floppy style seen in earlier years. By 1954, the New Era Cap Company was producing a uniform cap for each professional baseball team, and today they provide about 2,000 caps per team each season. There are more than 200 styles of Yankees caps, nearly 200 choices for the Dodgers, 175 for the Red Sox.


Good bet that most of us would prefer pink with glitter sparkles to any of the old styles shown above. But retuning to the idea of washing your baseball cap, the suggestion from a young lady in the beach shop was to wash a baseball cap in the dishwasher rather than the washing machine. That never would have occurred to me but then I suppose it is a gentler wash.

2 comments:

  1. I must have 40 of them--from the LSU ones when I ran the Tradebook Department of the bookstore to the ones given to me by businesses, friends and family back from vacations, and some prized ones from fire departments when they were in town helping after Katrina. So some are used while doing yard work and some for merely looking good while patio-sitting.

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  2. I could have given you an LSU cap to watch the torture the other night but I don't think that would have changed the score!!! Also, one can buy a frame to use in the washing machine to hold the shape of the cap, and you lay the cap on the "shelf" which fits in the washing machine so that it isn't tossed around. I've never done that so don't know what the outcome would be. The caps around this house are just worn until they are dirty and sweaty and shreds and then I throw them out.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America