Tales from The Baseball Thesaurus: Baseball Cap

Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chats

May 3 2021 • 2 mins

With six panels and a consistent design topped by a squatchee, a baseball cap is an enduring symbol of the game. Jesse Goldberg-Strassler explains how baseball caps evolved in this week’s Tales from the Baseball Thesaurus.

Baseball players didn’t originally wear baseball caps on the field: they wore straw hats in the fashion of the day. By 1858, however, teams like the Brooklyn Excelsiors introduced rounded caps to the mix. Pretty soon you saw other variations, including green visors and sunglasses attached to the cap itself, as well as the popular pillbox style and the “Philadelphia style” cap featuring four rows of stitching fronted by a brim attached to the crown itself.

When MLB expanded in 1969, teams saw fit to experiment further. The Seattle Pilots introduced embroidered leaves representing pilots on the cap front, while the Montreal Expos went a step further with the colorful red, white and blue pinwheel design—a design criticized at the time by purists but now regarded as a classic. And, we also saw the 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates bring back the pillbox cap to commemorate the founding of the National League.

Goldberg-Strassler shares his insights on the colorful patois of America’s Pastime in this weekly podcast. You can find The Baseball Thesaurus at augustpublications.com.