May 15, 2023

The Long, Strange History of the Baseball Cap

A baseball hat is more than just protection for your noggin and shade for your eyes. That structured object of cotton, wool, and/or polyester can speak volumes. Michael Clair's fascinating dive into the simple headwear explores how teams came to adopt it in the first place, and — most interestingly — how a utilitarian piece of uniform crossed over into the fashion realm. (The visuals are great, too. From older styles to portraits of rappers donning their favorite caps, there's a nice mix of vintage and modern.) I won't look at my own collection quite the same.

"We can go to a seminal moment in the late ’80s when NWA emerges, particularly when Eazy E emerges in the White Sox hat," Dr. Jabari Evans, an Assistant Professor of Race and Media at the University of South Carolina, said. "It's one of those things that went from being something that was associated very strongly with where you’re from, and very strongly with being a fan of the sport, to transcending that and saying a statement about cool and saying a statement about aesthetics and saying a statement about athleisure and lifestyle."

No longer was the cap merely a way to talk about your favorite ballclub, or even about the city you were from. It had now become a piece of fashion — one that was often synonymous with the people wearing them.