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Behind the Bracket Mystery: 1998 Alternate

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Let's investigate the mystery of the 1998/99 Padres Alternate cap.

If you've been following Gaslamp Ball's Cap Tournament as of late (and if you have, thanks!), you know that one of the caps I introduced as a Wild Card was this cap:

Through some cursory research I concluded that this cap was the 1998 Alternate cap the Padres randomly used throughout that magical World Series season. Granted, my memory of the '98 season is not the sharpest (I was all of 10 years old), so I referenced what I considered a pretty solid referendum on Padres uni history: The Glaze Jersey History Page.

During the Modern Wild Card round, user dgm19 pointed out that he had never seen the white squatchee'd cap make an appearance on-field, let alone in 1998. He provided this picture of Damien Jackson as proof:

Obviously, I was a bit perturbed that my cap may be a fake, which is considered the ultimate in taboos for a collector. I pulled the cap out of its resting place to examine the evidence.

The MLB Batterman logos in the 90s-early 2000s era were all flat-stitched. A big indicator of fraud in a MLB cap is to check out the Batterman; if his batting helmet's brim is incredibly short or truncated, you may have a bad cap. Our example here looks solid.

All MLB caps of the time still had gray underbrims and white sweatbands until the late 2000s prompted the switch to all black underbrims and sweatbands. The interior brand indicators look to be of the late 90s-early 00s era when all MLB on-fields were under the Authentic Diamond Collection moniker. It looks like an authentic, feels like an authentic...must be authentic! So why is Damien Jackson wearing a cap without a white squatcho?

I dug around the internet and searched for pictures of the 1999 and 2000 Padres to see if I could glean a few clues. The search uncovered these old trading card pictures of our 1999 squad. Check it out:

Noted curmudgeon Phil Nevin's cap has that white squatchee. Also worth checking out is that sleeve patch: that's the 30th anniversary patch worn by the players during the 1999 season.

Chris Gomez's cap also has the white button. His sleeve also has the 30th anniversary patch.

My conclusion?

The white squatchee cap must have been exclusive to the 1999 season. I'm guessing that their first shot at the navy alternate cap included the white squatcho as a first design and for some reason was subsequently scrapped the next season. Why? Maybe it resembled a cap a certain rival wears. Maybe the white squatcho was just a commemorative cap for the 30th anniversary season like this year's All-Star cap.

I learned something new today. Hope you did as well!