I was pushed to my limit when I saw an Orange Popsicle Dodgers cap.
Actually, it looks more like a Creamsicle bar. The cap is orange with “Dodgers” written across the front in white script, with a tan brim and a color under the brim that was described in the marketing pitch as “camouflage” and described by me as “ice cream stains”.
Excuse me while I’m throwing up.
The Dodgers cap is a classic: blue, with the interlocking “LA” letters in white, worn proudly by legends from Sandy Koufax to Clayton Kershaw, and by the 200 million fans who have attended the stadium for their home games over the past 65 years have gathered Los Angeles.
Dignity unfortunately went the way of the outfield walls with no ads and it’s the pitchers turn to hit.
Today you can buy a Dodgers hat in colors better found in a giant box of crayons: neon green and cement gray; pale yellow and stone orange; Pecan and Neapolitan; toffee and tiramisu; Walnut sky and desert fog.
You can buy a Dodgers hat decorated with a butterfly or a shark, flowers or hearts, waves or cheetah spots, an avocado or a zodiac sign.
“I gave up,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, “from the idea of different styles of Dodger hats.” I think it’s a sign of the times.”
In fact, caps that would otherwise be dismissed as novelty attract the attention of fans and non-fans alike. The caps worn by players on the field are still the basis for sales of baseball caps, but the so-called fashion caps represent an increasingly large and rapidly growing segment of sales.
“That’s what drives the business,” said Bob Durda, president of cap retailer Lids.
Ground zero for the cap revolution: the 1996 World Series, according to Todd Radom, author of Winning Ugly: A Visual History of Baseball’s Most Unique Uniforms.
Director Spike Lee, a New York Yankees fan, wanted to wear a red Yankees cap to the World Series to match his red coat. He got one that was made especially for him. During the same series — for the first time, Radom said — Major League Baseball installed commemorative World Series patches on field caps.
The traditional uniform was no longer considered sacred, not in a decade when expansion teams debuted purple And blue green as primary colors, and as existing teams popularized alternative uniforms and experimented with bright colors Turn Ahead the Clock Jerseys.
“Part of it has to do with the huge drop in revenue due to the strike in 1994,” Radom said. “They wanted to monetize things in new and imaginative ways. It was revenue driven, and then it starts.”
As the 20th century gave way to the 21st, the League expanded its apparel partnerships beyond the confines of traditional sporting goods companies to include hip-hop designers and fashion outfitters.
“There are many things I’m good at, but one of them probably isn’t designing fashion,” said Major League Baseball’s chief revenue officer Noah Garden. “We rely on our partners. You know what sells. They know what our fans are looking for.”
There are dozens and dozens of Dodgers caps on display at the Lids Store in Hollywood and Highland. The employee who helps me wears a Dodgers hat – a khaki hat with gold accents and a black peak.
“Matches some of my shoes,” said the employee.
Garden said: “We serve our fans in as many ways as possible. If they want to show that they are a fan of this club, they wear the iconic cap. When it comes to what I’m going to wear to dinner tonight, it’s about fashion.”
There is a season for everything. With baseball caps, this season doesn’t necessarily have to be a baseball season.
“In spring and summer, many customers are looking for lighter colors, pastels and bright colors,” Durda said. “In the fall, it’s more the earth tones.”
Baseball caps have spread beyond the ballpark into popular culture. In 2022, loud Cognitive Market Research435 million baseball caps have been sold in the United States — or about 9 caps for every MLB game ticket sold.
Sales of officially licensed MLB caps have increased “over 200%” since 2020, said league spokesman David Hochman. MLB declined to give specific numbers. But Radom, who has worked with Lids, said this about the company: “Their fulfillment warehouse is like 10 Ikeas put together.”
In 2020, one in ten fitted Dodgers caps sold was a fashion cap, according to Lids. In 2021, three out of ten were a fashion cap.
This year, for the first time, Lids sells more fashion Dodgers caps than on-field caps. It’s early days, as they say in baseball, but Lids’ mid-year trends suggest that 7 out of 10 Dodgers caps sold so far this year have been fashion caps. (The trend is similar across California’s other four major league teams, Lids said.)
According to Lids, the Dodgers’ favorite hat for 2022 is called the Rustbelt and it comes in three colors: black, camel, and orange.
“I think the Dodger blue with the ‘LA’ embroidered in white is an all time must-have,” said Roberts. “I like the tradition. I enjoy seeing the traditional hats around Dodger Stadium and across the city. It’s easy to identify with.
“But it’s fun to see Dodger fans showing their support for the team in their own unique way. Everyone markets and brands LA in different ways.”
Kershaw pointed to the hat hanging in his locker and the intertwined white letters.
“This symbol right here is iconic, the ‘LA,'” Kershaw said. “It’s like a style. It’s also like a fashion thing, all the different colors and different things.
“It’s still the ‘LA’. I think that’s what makes it significant. At the end of the day, you can change whatever you want, but I don’t think they’re going to change that.”
At the end of my day, after taking one look at the Dodgers caps in yellow and brown, in red and purple, and in white-on-white and black-on-black variants, the Lids store rep suggested I should one floor at the Hollywood and Highland Center, where a Dodgers Clubhouse store displayed even more styles of Dodgers caps.
Friends, you can buy a Dodgers tie-dye hat there. It’s time for Dodger Baseball!