The baseball hat is considered a fashion item that will never go out of style. It is an iconic hat that became not only popular in the sport that it is meant to be in but also in outdoor fashion. But who invented the baseball hat? And why is it first used by baseball players? To answer these questions, let us take a look at the interesting history of the baseball hat.
The Predecessors of the Baseball Hat
The baseball cap was not the first headwear that has a brim, as there have been several hats that have it since the early 19th century. One of the most popular brimmed hats was the deerstalker, which is probably famous as the preferred headwear of Sherlock Holmes, as he is seen wearing it constantly on many illustrations from the year Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the character up to the present. The other hats with a brim that are regarded as the baseball cap’s predecessors are the fedoras, jockey caps, and the pillbox caps that were usually worn by the military.
Baseball with No Hat
When the sport of baseball was invented in the 1800s, the players did not wear a standardized hat, although they are were free to wear whatever headwear or headgear that they want while playing the game. However, there was one type of hat that is popular among many players because of its breathability and its ability to block sunlight, and that is the straw hat. The straw hat especially became the go-to headwear for the New York Knickerbockers, who eventually appointed the hat as the official headgear for the team’s baseball players on April 24, 1849.
Merino Wool Hats
A few years after, the straw hat was deemed by players to be too flimsy to be used for multiple games, as they have realized that straw hats can easily get damaged or destroyed in the game. To solve the issues with durability, the team decided to make hats out of merino wool, which is a material that can withstand hundreds of wear while still being comfortable for the head. The most prominent feature of the merino wool cap besides its brim is its “crown,” a part of the headwear that wraps around the wearer’s head and is made up of multiple patches of merino wool.
Improvements to the Baseball Hat
Air holes were then incorporated at the top of the crown during the 1890s to offer more breathability since merino wool is a dense material. The first logo on the cap was first embroidered in 1901, and the logo belonged to the Detroit Tigers, who thought that putting the team’s logo would make their players more recognizable from afar.
It is essential to discuss that the first baseball caps had a short brim, which offered little to no protection for the eyes against the sunlight. It was only in the 1920s when teams decided to make hats with longer brims so that it can protect the player from the sunlight a little bit better. In the 1940s, the crown for the baseball hats became significantly taller, and this allows the headwear to stay longer on the player’s head since there is more room to wrap the crown around the temple. The taller crown also enabled the logo of the teams to be more visible and more aligned to the wearer’s face. The taller version of the baseball hat will remain relatively unchanged up to the present day.
From Sports to Lifestyle
The baseball cap remained exclusive for basketball until the early 1950s when people began wearing the hats to support their favorite teams. By the 1960s, several agricultural companies began issuing baseball hats for their farmers so that they can get their eyes protected from the sunlight while working at the farm. In addition, the agricultural companies also created their own version of the baseball hat that has mesh material on the back part. This variation would eventually be known as the “trucker hat.”
As baseball hat became more and more popular, several forms of entertainment like TV shows and movies started incorporating the sports cap in the actors’ wardrobe. Some of the most notable actors who wore baseball hats include Richard Dean Anderson for the 1985 TV series McGyver, Tom Selleck in the infamous Magnum PI TV show that ran from 1980 to 1988, and Tom Cruise as Maverick in the popular 1986 movie Top Gun.
Soon after, many teenagers started wearing their baseball cap backward as a sign of rebellion or non-conformity. The reversed baseball cap then became one of the most well-known symbols of punk rock in the 1990s.
The everyman’s hat eventually became luxury headwear when high-end fashion brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton started designing their versions of the baseball cap. The fashion brands elevated the status of the baseball hat from a piece of headwear worn by the ordinary people into a fashion item that can be worn by the elite. However, the cheap baseball hats are still the most sought-after until today, even by those who are living lavish lifestyles. The baseball cap never went out of style, and it will continue to be trendy for years to come.