MLB is always adding new things and new styles of uniforms and caps and 2018 is no exception, especially with the New Era Spring Training/BP caps.
I first heard of the new style a couple of months ago when MLB released the look of each team’s caps and I have to say that the White Sox and the Rockies hit it out of the park. Our Padres have stuck with the Spring Training look used the last few seasons with a dual color cap of….blue and white. Good news is that we are the only club to use the front triangle design ala the '72-'85 caps, but the other non-news is that nothing has really changed on the caps, design wise. Material wise it’s a whole new ballgame.
New Era has rolled out the newest and most lightweight cap ever for the 2018 season: the PROLIGHT 59FIFTY, a poly rubber something-or-other cap designed by the best minds at New Era. First thing you notice is the feel, and man, it’s light but it doesn’t have a traditional cap feel. It feels more like a windbreaker or almost something you would find on a tent. The logos are all lightweight rubber. The interlocking SD and Harmon Killebrew* are rubber and the New Era flag is also rubber. After an examination of the cap under some good lighting, some scratching of my brow, and running my fingers through my beard like a college professor trying to figure out this new-fangled thing, I decided to give it a “test drive” it. Yep, a test drive on a baseball cap.
The Test Drive
For clarity, I ordered the low-profile version for some reason. I don’t really know why or remember if I did, as I’m 6’5” and really prefer the regular sized ones. They run around $35.99 for the caps which is average for all “on field” caps in MLB via the team’s websites via Fanatics. I wanted to dislike this cap for going away from everything we have known to love about caps since, oh I don’t know, since the Redlegs started a professional team. (Side note: The Cincinnati Reds should ALWAYS play the first game of each season!!)
Ok, back to the cap…I really didn’t want to like this rubber tent cap but damn if it didn’t fit great and feel great. The tent like material looks like any dirt stains will rub right off with a damp cloth and the rubber logo…well I still am not a fan of that. I just like some thread on my logo! Can I get a “Amen” on that? I also have a bad feeling that the rubber will soon make its way to the regular MLB caps and uniforms very soon. Almost like our 2016 All Star “patches” but on all aspects of the uniforms.
Do I like the feel of the caps? Yes, I really do, and I really feel so dirty saying that as I love the leather and wool feel of my 1974 Padres hat also. The leather and wool just feel like baseball and this just feels like technology wrapping your head. It’s like Billy Bean and IBM’s Watson had a kid and the kid grew up and started working at New Era and came up with something great and awful at the same time.
“America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.” - Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams
I guess this is a new time mark in baseball but this time it’s a baseball tradition that is getting erased and even though I am cool with the cap I am not cool with the change.
*I know Harmon Killebrew is not the guy on the MLB logo but I just like to believe that he is.
Follow Greg on Twitter @Greg_Tish.