That Giants hat you've had since high school? It may be the physical manifestation of your baseball loyalty, but you're still going to get flack for wearing it to Busch Stadium or Safeco Field. Living in a new town means having to buy a new cap. Fortunately, thanks to the proliferation of vintage hat companies, it doesn't have to mean rocking the colors of a hated rival. Instead, find a dissolved franchise and show some local pride without taking sides.
Hats designed for the frontrunners of long-gone divisions, all-but-unknown minor league clubs, and the Negro League teams are all fair game for lovers of the national pastime who don't want to rep the home town heroes. "There are many alternate teams from Brooklyn or Baltimore," says Will Arlt of Ideal Cap Co., which sells caps proudly emblazoned with the logos of extinct clubs like the Terrapins, the Black Sox, the Elite Giants, and the Tip Tops. "We specialize in those out-of-the-way teams, as well as small forgotten minor league teams – or even fictional teams."
And Arlts' company isn't alone. Ebbets Field Flannels and American Needle both produce high-quality replicas of old hats that pay homage to the barnstorming era. The key for fans who have moved to a new town is to find a cap that clearly represents a city without representing an extant team. Here are the ones we recommend for die-hard fans looking to blend in without going turncoat.
Boston: The Braves. The World Series-winning franchise left town in the early fifties.
New York: The Black Yankees. This Negro League franchise normally wore traditional Yankee caps, but they had their own for one year.
Atlanta: The Crackers. This Southern Association team had a strange name and a block-print cap worth resurrecting.
Chicago: The Whales. The former Federal League team had a strange mascot given the dearth of cetaceans in the Great Lakes.
Detroit: The Stars. This Negro League franchise's hat made the Tigers and Lions look tame.
Houston: The Colt .45s. Before the Astros were the Astros, they were named after the same gun as the Indianapolis Colts.
Seattle: The Giants. The Pacific Coast League favorites joined the Northwestern League in 1907 to compete with Canadian teams.
San Francisco: The Seals. DiMaggio played for this minor league club before signing with the Yankees.
Los Angeles: Rams. Yes, they were and are a football team, but you'll get compliments. Trust us.