New Era has been the official provider of MLB on-field caps since 1993, and as their 2015 contract renewal states, the company also creates “fashion styles and retro caps” under the MLB license.
Several new cap styles have rolled out over the past couple weeks. You may have seen one or more of these floating around Twitter, or at least seen a variant of these styles for another team. I thought I’d take a moment to rate these three new St. Louis Cardinals cap styles.
To evaluate each style, we will use a basic Five Star scale. But to help you calibrate your expectations, here’s an example of a ***** cap:
As for a * hat, I’ll do you one better and show you the rare ZERO STAR HAT:
That is still the worst hat in the history of hats. An American flag inside a cross on a background of camouflage? Look, I don’t want to challenge anyone’s beliefs, but pick a lane, hat.
So with those parameters in mind, let’s look at these three recently released New Era Hats:
Men’s Clubhouse 39THIRTY Flex Hat
For this Clubhouse Collection, New Era generally used alternate team logos. The results vary. Some of these look pretty sharp. Quite a few of them look like something you bought off a street vendor in 1999.
As for the Cardinals hat? Well, it’s a Cardinal wearing a Cardinals hat. Clearly, there was a missed opportunity here to have the Cardinal wearing a Cardinals hat that featured a Cardinal wearing a Cardinals hat... and on into infinity.
To me, there’s something off about the Cardinal here. He looks more like an Arizona Cardinal or a Louisville Cardinal. But, if you’d like a hat featuring an Arizona or Louisville Cardinal who happens to be a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason, this is the hat for you.
Big Boys Paul Goldschmidt Lil Player 9FIFTY Snapback Cap
This here... this is a really bat hat. And it comes from a collection of bad hats.
Let’s start by talking about the name: Big Boys Lil Player 9Fifty series. Are they Big Boys or Lil Players, New Era? They can’t be both. Isn’t the spell one number and use the numeral for the other thing a little played out? And do we need all three of these names for one unsightly hat style?
Every hat in the series features a star player in a drawing that looks like it was done by someone in a court-ordered creative therapy class. In fact, that might be the reason that this hat is actually listed on Macy’s website as a Matt Carpenter hat.
You might look at it and say “that’s not Matt Carpenter.” And you would be right. But is it Paul Goldschmidt? I know it says “Paul Goldschmidt” on it. But if I wrote “Paul Goldschmidt” in front of a Bob Saget headshot, would that make it Paul Goldschmidt?
Beyond the quality of the illustration, here again we have a Cardinals hat featuring somebody wearing a Cardinals hat. I guess it’s a trend. And I suppose if New Era is doing hats featuring players wearing badly drawn Cardinal hats, there is one that I would like:
Put Mike Laga wearing a badly drawn Cardinals hat on a hat, cowards.
2020 Batting Practice and Spring Training Hats
Here, we get something a little different. For these BP and Spring Training hats, rather than putting a hat on a hat, New Era is putting a logo on a logo. Some of the results are quite bad. The first one I saw was this White Sox hat, which looks like a production error:
Then there’s the San Diego Padres hat, which does not feature a swastika. But the mashup of the Swingin’ Friar and SD logo does create an effect which is... let’s call it Swastika-adjacent. And that’s probably not where you’d like to be.
The Cardinals hat in the series is much less problematic, and I would say it’s actually a pretty good hat. It’s basically just the classic STL logo with a splash of color from the birds on the bat peeking through. I’m going to assume that most of you are like me, and you’ve already got five or six of the classic STL hats in your closet. This seems like a nice alternative for a little variety and, if you’re also like me, to make your wife say “you bought another hat? Jesus Christ, how many hats does one man need?”
Now, I realize this hat may also not be your style - and that’s okay. But I’ve got to push back a little against the extreme hat purists out there, who look down on anything that is not a 100% replica field hat.
Look, we aren’t going into the game to pinch-hit. We aren’t running a Civil War re-enactment. If somebody wants to spice up their fandom with a little personal flair, I say let your Cardinal-themed freak flag fly.