The Hat Collection… and Their Costs (Between the Innings)

“I could be brown, I could be blue, I could be violet sky, I could be hurtful, I could be purple, I could be anything you like.”

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After the last post, I thought I would bring up something that a couple people have asked me about. In every post at the end, I’ve shown a picture of me with the home team’s hat. Yes, while I do have a favorite team (the Los Angeles Dodgers), that doesn’t mean I can’t support each team and every stadium I’ve been. In a sense, this is a way of showing my gratitude to each place I’ve been and a tribute to each fan base that I’ve come across… some better than others. I take each place I travel to at face value and try to remain as impartial as possible. This has come from years of being an off-ice official for the ECHL and traveling to different arenas in that regard. I will admit that growing up, I would very openly root against any team that wasn’t the Dodgers (or the Angels sometimes). In fact, there is one ballpark I went to where I didn’t buy a hat, and still don’t have a team hat from there. If you guessed the San Francisco Giants, a thousand points* for you.

I will be traveling to San Francisco later this month to finish off my tour for now, and that will be my 15th ballpark visited this season. The last time I attended a game at “The Phone Booth” was years ago, so I feel like I can have a fresh perspective on the park and the team. I’ve visited there twice in the last two years, but this was during the baseball off-season. The last time I saw a game there, I wasn’t yet working for the ECHL, and was still a bit biased. Of course, one of those times was a Dodgers vs. Giants game at AT&T Park, so the thought of getting a Giants hat never entered my mind. However, I’m going to bite the bullet and finally get a Giants hat this trip. Shocker, I know.

Over the years, I’ve built up a pretty impressive hat collection which includes a couple Angels caps, and more than a few Dodgers caps, including a very old-school Brooklyn cap, and an argyle Angels hat. The idea to get a hat from nearly stadium I’ve been to started over a decade ago when I first went to a couple games with my good friend, Justin Lollie. I lost a bet during an Angels/A’s game in Oakland where the Angels lost, and he bought me an Oakland A’s cap… and then proceed to embarrass me in front of hundreds of Oakland fans. One memory that sticks to me is where he spoke like a preacher and said, “We have converted another one! Amen!” Yes, I had to wear that cap the entire night and next day. Despite the ribbing, that is a memory which will always be with me. A few days after that game, him and I went to Seattle and bought a couple caps since they were both on sale. I got the 80s blue velcro cap with the trident “M” and the wool-fitted dark blue and teal cap. Yeah, remember those old wool-fitted caps? While I’m a little sad New Era no longer makes those caps, they are tough to clean because of their material.

Going back to today, I now have somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 hats, and counting. During this trip alone, I have purchased caps from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, New York, Colorado, and Houston. Of course, I should mention that I did purchase a cap from Boston earlier this season at Fenway Park. The caps I’ve worn this season have all come from each ballpark, which gives my collection a feeling of being at each place. I’ve literally brought home a little piece of each ballpark I’ve visited. In some cases, I’ve even scrubbed a little stadium dirt under the bill to make it feel even more “on-field authentic.”

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Of course, these caps come at a cost, and I’m about to compare the prices of each authentic cap I have purchased this season. I should point out right now that the cap I buy is the New Era Authentic official caps that you’d see players wear on the field (7 and 3/8 size, for those of you keeping score, or want to get me a gift!). In some ballparks, they will offer some kind of discount on hats if you are a AAA-card holder. However, this discount does not apply to the New Era Authentic caps (At Fenway Park, they will offer a AAA discount for most ’47 Brand caps).

Starting at Fenway Park, I got the regular home cap for $41.00 without tax. At Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, I got the blue alternate cap for only $36.99 without tax! The Orioles have two team stores, so be aware of this. Inside the park, their team store had their home cap for $42, but if you arrive early enough to a game, you can check out the sports museum’s team store, and they have that same cap for only $38. With tax, that cap comes out to $40.28. Nationals Park in DC didn’t have much selection, but I got the all-red home cap for $41.80 ($38 plus their 10% tax). Citi Field had their home all-blue cap for $41.99 without tax. The Coors Field team store in Denver had the all-purple cap for an even $40.00 without tax. Finally, Minute Maid Park has their cap priced at $36.95, but with tax, it comes out to an even $40. Not surprisingly, New York had the most expensive prices of any stadium.

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As far as selection goes, Boston, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Philadelphia had the best choices and most sizes in stock at their team stores. They get top marks in this category. This could be attributed to each team’s longevity and subtle changes for each cap through the years. However, the teams with the lowest marks would have to be Arizona, Houston, Washington, and Colorado. While Houston has been around for over fifty years, their team store doesn’t reflect that. The other three teams on that list simply haven’t been around long enough to show much variety. Colorado’s cap have gone largely unchanged in the past twenty years.

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That’s it as far as this post goes, and I hope this gives fans an insight to how much you can expect to spend if you’re looking for an official cap from the parks. Don’t forget to ask about any discounts at some team stores. Check out the twitter (@StimpyJD) and be sure to look out for my upcoming posts on my Texas trip, more minor league games, and my return to California! Until then, keep checking out some live baseball, especially during this stretch run!

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-JD

*Just like “Whose Line is it Anyway?” the points don’t really matter here…

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