Hey everyone! Welcome back to another edition of The Friar's Hat Stash! I'm glad to welcome back readers of my first Hat Stash, and if you're just joining in, welcome! The Friar's Hat Stash is a weekly-ish column on everyone's favorite piece of everyday baseball wear: the baseball cap. I've devoted a lot of my time and resources in collecting caps, and what you're reading is an in-depth look at the caps we see everyday, and some we see fashionably perched on our fellow fan's heads.
As promised in the last column, we'll be looking at Padres alternates today! The awesome thing about alternates is...well, they're alternate. Besides on Sundays and during Spring Training, we don't get to see these hats very often on top of our Padres heads. In the pantheon of collecting, these aren't too hard to find in your local retailers, and the majority of the caps you'll see here today are still widely available.
I'd like to kick things off with an admission. I don't actually own the true Padres alternate (yet). The downfall of collecting by color means that while I do have an olive Padres cap, I don't have the exact alternate (yet). Still, I will show you the alternate cap I do own, and the actual cap for full edification. I apologize.
Readers in the know (or who remember last year) will recognize this particular Padres alternate as the Stars and Stripes 2012 cap. The Padres were one of the few (only?) teams that actually had the Stars and Stripes as their alternate cap, and it worked incredibly well with their digital camouflage uniforms, making for what probably was the most seamless use of the Stars and Stripes cap to date (which on some teams can be visually jarring).
And the edifying picture, thanks to MLB Shop.
For our purposes, there isn't a lot different between the two besides the makeup of the logos. Both caps are 100% polyester with added properties from New Era (enhanced breathable fabric, UV protection).
The actual alternate cap shows the MLB logo in olive and sand, instead of the UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern) design shown here. Again, my apologies.
The actual alternate is an on-field cap, so the rectangular Authentic sticker would be present in lieu of the circular authentic sticker here. This is a rare oddity, however, as this cap is also an official on-field cap, and such caps would typically have a rectangular sticker.
Besides the sticker oddity, you can see the on-field black underbrim and black sweatband.
Why black for on-field caps, you may ask? Black is generally an absorptive color, and its function under the brim is to absorb light and keep it away from the player's eyes. The black color for the sweatband? An easier answer: it doesn't show stains as easily.
Here's a look at the back of the sweatband of the cap, which is where the back of your head would occupy. From left to right, you'll see the MLB authentic on-field cap patch, the New Era patch, and the size patch. My preferred hat size is indeed 7 5/8s. We'll touch on cap sizing in next week's issue.
We'll move on into a new cap for this season:
This is the Padres Spring Training 2013 cap. This cap is something of a landmark for New Era and MLB, as they've finally made a Spring Training cap worth owning (IMHO). The past few iterations of the Spring Training cap were pre-curved easy-fit jobs with weird mesh cuts over the ears and some funny piping. This cap utilizes the Padres navy for the bill, front panels and button. White takes up the other panels of the cap, as well as the interlocking SD. Sand provides a flourish as the border of the logo.
This is another 100% polyester cap with New Era properties, but the difference in this cap is how it's constructed. New Era identifies this cap as part of the Diamond Era collection, and the cap is visually mesh-like, but not quite see-through.
Another note: This particular cap shown is either an error, or a first edition-type. There exists another version of the Spring Training cap with the interlocking SD in a white mesh design, much like the back of the cap. The cap seen here has the SD sewn in.
Why? According to an employee at one of my favorite retailers, the Padres Spring Training took longer to arrive in stores due to an error at New Era producing the cap. This cap could have been a first production thrown to shelves until New Era got back to making the cap the way it was meant to look. Whether this is true or not, I'm not entirely sure.
Here's the MLB logo, and a great look at the detail of the cap's makeup. One can easily make out the diamond-like construction of the fabric.
The difference is not just in looks, it's in the feel too: this cap is light. The lighter fabric construction makes for an almost weightless cap, and the cap provides a very nice feel and fit. It also does breathe easier than your typical cap.
The underside with black underbrim and sweatband. While I think this cap is awesome, it scares me in one big, obvious way: it's MOSTLY WHITE. White caps are notoriously hard to keep clean, even while using all available preventative measures. I'll fill you guys in on how to keep your trusty caps clean in a later issue.
Next is a throwback to a couple years ago. You may remember seeing this cap in Friar Friday Merch #41.
This is the old Padres alternate cap, circa 2008-2011. The major differences between this and the modern alternative are visually obvious: this cap is forest green, with the SD in gold with a black border. While this cap was plentiful back when the Pads wore it regularly, finding the official on-field version nowadays can take a little more perusing than usual. Some retailers have remade this particular cap, but with a gray underbrim.
The MLB logo, which is actually in the Padres normal colors of navy, white and sand.
The underside shows the authentic on-field sticker, black underbrim, and black sweatband.
Lastly, we'll take a look at a cap that has made only one appearance so far, but I would consider an alternate for this year:
This piece of awesome is the Padres Memorial Day 2013 cap. This cap, contrary to first glance, is not this year's Stars and Stripes cap. MLB is making a completely different Stars and Stripes cap for this year, and we'll take a look at the Stars and Stripes caps in another episode.
This cap is covered completely in the desert version of MARPAT (Marine Pattern), which makes for a visually striking cap. Each cap looks completely different from each other, so you'll see many visual variations of this particular cap. Just like the previous caps, this cap is 100% polyester with New Era tech included.
A cool detail I wanted to point out was the border of the SD. It's the team's navy.
The MLB logo is also in the team's navy, white and sand. Excuse the errant thread.
Here's a killer shot of the authentic on-field sticker, with something intriguing next to it! That sticker indicates that the MARPAT design utilized in the cap is officially licensed for use in the cap by the Marine Corps (a department of the Navy). While the MARPAT design does not have the indicative marks (an embedded EGA in the actual design, randomly occurring throughout) of actual MARPAT, it is as close as you can get to the real deal in a baseball cap. A black underbrim and sweatband complete the cap.
That wraps up our long look at the Padres alternate caps! I hope you enjoyed reading this labor of love as much as I had making it. As always, feel free to post your cap stories and comments. I'm always willing to answer any questions you readers may have about the article, or baseball caps in general.
In our next episode, we'll check out...
-An intro into Padres fashion caps-
-Types of collectors and collections-
Thanks again for reading! Until next time!
Tim (The SD Hat Guy)
In case you missed it: TFHS #1