Thursday, January 27, 2011
MiLB LIFE: Wasted Hat Collection
Every minor leaguer must go through it. You spend the bulk of your life collecting New Era hats from all ranks of the baseball world, and then, the second you get drafted, these lids become useless. Sure, you'll snap a few photos wearing the home cap of your new team on Draft day, and perhaps even one more time when you sign your first contract- assuming you're not too embarrassed to ask the scout signing you for a posed handshake, a smile, and a 'Cheese'- but once you begin your professional career, those hats are out.
I grew up with a baseball cap on my head, but it wasn't until college that my relationship with New Era really blossomed. These were the real deal. The 59Fifty was the model seen atop every Big Leaguer's head- the look was authentic, and naturally, I had to be a part of it. My collection grew, and although I continually added more hats, I did my best to incorporate all of them into my wardrobe- careful not to let any feel left out.
My collection was well-rounded. I had the classics- Dodgers, Tigers, Red Sox (never had a Yankees lid, figured I couldn't sport both, but I obviously consider it a classic)- along with some fun alternates- the Clemens era Blue Jays, the royal blue Brewers, and the red 'TC' Twins. Mix those with some throwbacks- the Mo Vaughn Angels, a two-toned Expos, and an old 'Devil' Rays- and you've got a pretty complete MLB collection.
I then focused my attention on Minor League caps, which offered more variety and more fun logos. Add six or seven MiLB lids to the collection and we're talking about a serious spread of hats. And now? Now they hang on hooks in my room at home, longing for the return of the glory days when they went outside, saw sunshine, received compliments, and got so much use they'd actually mold to my head. Those were the days.
In the manager's address on my first day of Rookie Ball, while discussing dress code he warned that not only should we not wear apparel from other teams (obviously), but that we were also not allowed to publicly wear anything representing our own organization.
"In these small towns, the last thing you want is to be advertising that you're a professional baseball player. You might think it's cool, but people around these parts hear that and they instantly think you're a millionaire. They think you make A-Rod money, they don't get it. Girls think you're rich and are dying to get a piece of you for all the wrong reasons, and then you have to deal with the guys around here who literally want to kill you because you're getting all the girl attention they used to get. And they will kill you. Keep a low profile."
That speech alone was enough for me to never want to wear another baseball hat again. So what now? What am I supposed to put on my head?
I've actually been going hatless pretty much all the time as a result. Although, having dabbled in golf as a youngster before baseball got serious, I did start incorporating a nice red Titleist hat into my rotation, along with a Bass Pro Shop lid and a hat with a logo from a local golf course. I even sport a floppy version of my college team's hat from time to time. My relationship with New Era had seemingly become a memory- aside from the seven months out of the year where I wear their hats six hours a day, I guess.
I, like almost every other Minor Leaguer, had outgrown my hat collection- but those four years we had together were something I'll cherish forever. Now, anybody looking to buy some hats?
MiLB LIFE Series
Dealing with Heckling Fans
Being the New Guy
My First Call-Up
A Typical Game Day [Part One]
A Typical Game Day [Part Two]
Being the 'K-Man'
A Taste of the Minor League Off-Season
New Helmets Issued, Players Respond: "Are You Joking?"
The Fines of Kangaroo Court