A Tale of Two Baseball Caps

Yesterday, the Stars & Stripes Washington Nationals Baseball Cap arrived.

Baseball teams started wearing patriotic baseball caps on national holiday weekends a few years ago. (And yes, the Toronto Blue Jays have their own patriotic cap, with the Maple Leaf instead of the Stars and Stripes.) Despite my love of the Cubs :cubs: I don’t like the Cubs’ Stars & Stripes designs at all. The Nationals’ design, with a white cap and a blue bill, on the other hand, was classy.

And since the Nationals are my local team, and since I didn’t have a Nationals cap, buying one of the Nationals’ caps was a no-brainer. :cheers:

It’s a fitted cap, and I had to guess at my size. I guessed slightly wrong — I ordered a 7 1/2 (because a fitted Lynchburg Hillcats cap I have is a 7 3/8, and it’s tight), and it’s definitely wearable but I can’t/shouldn’t let my hair grow out for the Ron Howard look. For future reference, size 7 5/8.

On a semi-related note, I’ve noticed over the past few months more and more people wearing throwback Chicago White Sox baseball caps in Baltimore. When I say “throwback,” I mean way back, to the era of Buck Weaver the Ginger Kid, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Jack Keefe, Eddie Cicotte — the 1910s and 1920s. Caps not unlike this one.

I noted this, filed it away in the back of my mind, and never really gave it any thought. I’d decided that, maybe, it had to do with President Obama — he’s a Chicago White Sox fan. (Of course, I didn’t know the White Sox had fans…) So, maybe people are wearing White Sox caps because the President likes the White Sox. It’s a theory, right? Except… Why a retro cap?

I pondered this. I pondered this some more. And then, a few weeks ago, I decided to do some research.

Baltimore has a long baseball tradition, from the National League Orioles and the American League Orioles (who today play in the Bronx) at the turn of the century to the Federal League and the International League and then, beginning over fifty years ago, the Orioles. A chance comment at work, about a film I’d seen, prompted me to wonder about Baltimore’s Negro League baseball teams.

I didn’t know.

Baltimore had several Negro League baseball teams, among them the Baltimore Black Sox.

And what did their baseball cap look like?

See for yourself. Or here.

Very close to the cap logo design worn by the Chicago White Sox between 1917 and 1930.

Now I know, when I see what to my eyes is a retro White Sox cap around Baltimore, that I’m actually seeing a Baltimore Black Sox cap.

That movie I’d seen, by the way, was this, “The Old Negro Space Program,” a mockumentary in the style of Ken Burns’ The Civil War and Baseball:

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