There comes a time in almost every hat collector's life where they begin to examine their collection and wonder ‘what's next?’ Some collectors start pursuing specific teams. Some focus on rare and hard to find gems. Some decide to take the biggest step of all: the collector’s version of making it to the big leagues.
Many of my ilk start with a design and a basic premise and go from there. I personally couldn't just make something one-off and call it a beginning. I wanted to do something that would not only represent my hometown but possibly be accessible to others. Something that tied into my favorite team. Something unique. Something like my own team perhaps.
I turned to the only artist I could trust with such an endeavor: Gaslamp Ball’s own Tony Losoya.
I fed my ideas to Tony and he turned around and created something much bigger than even I had imagined. His illustrations fueled a storyline that sparked my creativity further than most go when undertaking such an endeavor. Many of you have seen Tony’s drawings on Twitter or Instagram and wondered were it was all going. We’d like to formally share this culmination of ideas with you.
This is the Salton Sea Birds.
The Salton Sea Birds are a fictional High-A team of the San Diego Padres (with all due respect to the excellent Lake Elsinore franchise). The Birds are located about 2 hours east of San Diego, over the Laguna Mountain range and into the fertile land of the Imperial Valley.
Why the Salton Sea? Why the Birds? I wanted to challenge myself to create a team that didn’t use ideas typical of the Imperial Valley (anything heat related, most desert animals). The Salton Sea served as a perfect landmark in a place devoid of such sights, it being the largest lake in California. The Birds name came naturally with the Salton Sea: the saline lake serves as a major aviary site. Over 400 different species of birds have been observed at the Salton Sea. I also wanted to bring a small bit of awareness to the Salton Sea itself, since the sea is evaporating and could pose major problems should it disappear. Call it a little classic hometown pride, as well.
I also wanted to tie in my new team with the Padres. With our Padres not playing well in any regard, I had plenty of time to write my team to life. You’ll read about the (fictional) history of the Salton Sea Birds in the next article.
Meet Salty! Salty is one of the duo of mascots for the Salton Sea Birds. He’s an American White Pelican that frequents the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea supports 30% of the American White Pelican population, so Salty and his kind are familiar sights around the Sea.
This is Ivie! Ivie is the second of the two mascots for the Salton Sea Birds. Ivie is a Cattle Egret, which is a familiar face in a farmer's field here in the Imperial Valley.
So what’s the culmination of all this work leading to? A fake team for nothing? Something to distract myself from the woes of the Padres?
Well, back to that collector’s step into the big leagues...
I’m having my own custom New Era cap made! Many collectors turn to designing their own custom cap as the next step in cap collecting, and I’ve decided to do the same. The colorway you see here is Salton Sea Blue (navy), Farmland Brown (brown), Canal Gray (gray) and Alkali White (off-white). Salty will be featured on the front of this cap. The Salton Sea Birds logo will take residence as a side patch, and the 760 (the area code of the Imperial Valley) is the back logo.
Why navy and brown? Well, it’s also part of a personal challenge: I wanted to take the two most ubiquitous Padres colors of all time and meld them into something cohesive. I think I’ve done pretty well with this colorway design.
You’ll learn more about my new (and hopefully your) favorite team’s formation and history in the next article to come soon! Say hello to the Salton Sea Birds!