Baseball Cap Turns Fifty

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2004 marks the 50th Anniversary of the ubiquitous baseball cap.

Golfers wear them and so do Brownies. Every Hollywood director since Steven Spielberg did ‘Jaws’ considers it part of their work wardrobe. It’s a US import which like jeans, has become a design classic and an integral part of global culture. And this year it has a special birthday. The baseball cap is fifty.

Up until 1954, it was up to individual baseball players to choose a hat to keep the sun out their eyes. Some went for straw boaters, others preferred jockey caps. There was no consistency amongst players, let alone teams. So, in 1954, a hat company came up with the standard issue cap known as the ‘59Fifty’. This brought uniformity to the game and fifty years on, it’s still the official cap of Major League Baseball.

In the late 70s and early 80s the American public became interested in wearing the caps worn by their favourite team and the big names in the game. The trend took hold and the baseball cap eventually made its way into every part of American society, including Hollywood and most importantly, the music scene.

In 1994, New York film maker Spike Lee asked the cap manufacturers to make him a fitted Yankees cap in 'unofficial' colours. At first they thought it was a strange request – who’d want a cap that's not identical to the Pros? But Spike got what he wanted, people noticed, and demand for hats like his took off making Spike Lee the founder of the fitted fashion cap.

Ian Spencer of UK cap specialists,, said “The baseball cap made its way to the UK a while ago, but the last 4 years has seen extraordinary growth. Largely due to the increasing number of homes with satellite TV. Through MTV, artists like Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst helped introduce the UK to the New York Yankees cap. This was around the time when the British public were keen to show their solidarity with New York after the 9/11 tragedy."

Baseball caps continue to grow in popularity and the music industry retains its influence over what’s hot. Usher is currently doing his bit for the Atlanta Braves while Britney flies the flag for the Birmingham Barons in her video for every time. Hats off to the baseball cap.

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Ian Spencer
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