Tip of the Cap is an utterly subjective view of Baseball’s most important piece of apparel, the baseball cap. Is it a cap? Is it a hat? Debate the term all you want, I will probably use them interchangeably. I’ll be going through the headwear of every single team on the MiLB and MLB website, league by league, picking my favorite and least favorite for each team, and then ranking them. Why am I qualified to do this? That is a very good question.
The Northwest League is a Single A Short Season minors league operating in the Northwest. There are 8 teams, and right now I’m going to rank them, purely by hat aesthetic. Enjoy.
Everett AquaSox – Everett, Washington
Strong start to this list, this hat is awesome. I want this hat. For starters, the logo is sweet. It’s simple, yet the colors are well defined. It’s rare to find a logo that is both eye-catching and minimal all at the same time. So good work on that. Plus, it’s a trident. Tridents are cool. Poseidon rocked a trident and he was a boss.
Yeah, this guy’s awesome
If I have one complaint with this hat, it’s that while awesome, this logo is probably the least on brand for the team. I was a little confused by this one, as there weren’t many cap offerings for the team, yet they have three distinctly different logos. The most on brand option would be what I’m finding as their main logo, which is really just the red sox logo but with toe socks. However that logo is not on the problematic hat, oh no.
Oof, there it is. What is that? I mean yes, it’s a Tree Frog. Tree Frogs are not cool. See Poseidon photo from above. The coloring is aggressive, bright green frog with red feet (they didn’t even make this frog wear the toe socks? Missed opportunity at making a bad logo worse, but better from a branding standpoint), a light blue hat, terrifying red eyes that are staring into your soul, and the baseball. That’s a lot of color, none of which is all that well defined. On closer inspection of the logo, I think I like what they’re going for. This cheeky dude isn’t even looking while he catches a fly ball with his tongue (and presumably clinging to a wall?). That’s pretty ballsy (heh), mascot dude. I run these hat choices by a couple people though, to see how other’s feel about my choices and the consistent reaction for this one was, “does their mascot lick balls?”
Spokane Indians – Spokane, Washington
Okay, I’ve picked this hat for a number of reasons but we’re going to start with simply how awesome is it that this team partnered with the local Native American tribe and created the logo in their native language? I mean that is awesome, and hats off to them. This hat is awesome regardless, however, I mean how cool looking is that logo?! Classic circle, a prominent baseball, an S in the primary color of the hat, and a Red/Grey color scheme that pops. I think this hat is fantastic, and I think it’s really cool that there’s a hat in Salish. In general “Indian” team names make me feel uncomfortable, but I read this article and I feel better about this specific ballclub. And I feel great about this hat.
Welp, all the goodwill gained by this team is now gone. WHY HAVE HAT DESIGNERS FORGOTTEN ABOUT CONTRAST?! Yes, there’s a white outline around the logo, but it’s tiny, and the black shadow that defines the red lettering isn’t enough to actually define the word. The primary red is insanely garish and offensive to the eyes. Then there’s the logo up the head that someone used photoshop to set the opacity to 15%. Not a solid look, Spokane Indians. Make a better cap.
Tri-City Dust Devils – Pasco, Washington
What a cool logo. It seems so iconic and so simple at the same time. The T is a bold serif that seems so classic and yet so unique. Surrounding it is the light brown tornado that is both obvious and stylized to the point that it makes a C for “Tri-City”. Lastly, and the most impressive touch, is that the serif is being blown in the wind, adding a great feel of depth and movement to the logo. Nice work, Dust Devils, nice work. Oh wait, what the hell is that. YOU MADE THE NEW ERA LOGO THE BROWN OF THE TORNADO?! Man, this hat is the best of the bunch but that feels like a serious misstep on an overall fantastic hat.
Okay. Let me preface this by saying, this hat’s not actually bad, and having a tornado for a mascot is pretty cool. However this hat could be so much better, and for that it gets worst marks. Let’s start with the mascot definition. Why would you put a black outline on a black hat? It ruins everything you’re trying to do from a definition standpoint. It also means that this mascot doesn’t have feet, because on closer inspection you can see that they designed black shoes onto this mascot. The black outline also means that when I first saw this, I didn’t think it was a tornado, but a tiger. I was confused as to how a tiger could be a Dust Devil. All in all? This hat needs work.
Vancouver Canadians – Vancouver, British Columbia
This is a cool hat. This one wins its marks in aesthetic design, which is cool. The logo is fine, it doesn’t do much for me, and the maple leaf looks like a plus symbol. But the over all color scheme? Awesome. The eye-popping red is connected through the logo, the New Era logo, and even the grommets. All in all, this hat looks great as an overall package.
Why do pre-ripped hats exist? Why do pre-ripped jeans exist? GET OFF MY LAWN. Seriously pre-ripped things make no sense to me. Why buy compromised clothing? Just wear it til it’s actually worn in with love, then you’ve earned those rips. That’s how I feel about ripped brims. Coupled with that the color scheme I believe is meant to insinuate that this hat used to have white mesh, but colored with age, and the faked hole in the faded red of the cap, this hat really wants to be worn with love, but knows that it’s such a shitty hat that no one will ever wear it long enough to earn these love marks. #EpicRunOnSentence
Boise Hawks – Boise, Idaho
This is the hardest decision I’ve had to make on a “Best” hat yet. So I want the record to reflect that the actual logo for the Boise Hawks is awesome, and if you want my favorite hat that sports a logo, click here.
Now then, how do you NOT love this hat?! The forest green, the hawk ripping through your forehead, leaving behind what is definitely bloody streaks, but could also be fire. The entire color scheme really should be commended, and the ability to make a lasting impression artistically, stylistically, and make a memorable hat should really be commended. I want this hat, this hat is amazing. I’d wear this hat pretty constantly.
Okay apparel designers, it’s time to have a conversation. When you make “girl’s” caps, and “women’s” caps, you already have the built in problem of potential sexism claims. When you make these female gendered hats with the terms glimmer, shimmer, sparkle, glitter, or any other term for iridescence, you’re running headfirst into those claims with reckless abandon. When you make them pink, as well, you’re just asking for people to be annoyed by you. However, some people might be into this hat, aesthetically, so I want the good people reading this blog to know that none of these are the reasons why I chose this hat as the worst. Let’s quickly talk about the seam on the ball. If you’re gonna make that the “shimmer” part of the hat, you really need to pick a color other than grey. It just doesn’t pop. Make it a pink shimmer, it’ll match the hat. This, still, isn’t why I chose this cap as the worst. My reason is WHY IS THE LOGO CUT OFF?! What is the message that’s trying to be conveyed other than “shit, we sewed this cap wrong”? I thought, maybe they’re just trying to be artistic, then I noticed it on a second hat.
This right here is the runner up for the worst hat of the Boise Hawks, and it TOO cuts off the bottom of the logo. You know what connects these two hats? They’re two of the only hats with a female pronoun in the title. Why can’t girls have the whole logo? Is this some weird commentary on, or in support of, pay inequality? Like women can only have 78% of a logo on their hat? But then you didn’t quite get that ratio on either hat, so maybe it’s a male feminist message from someone who wants to be helpful, but not support equality? Like, “how dare women only get 78c on the dollar? They deserve to have about 93c on the dollar. Definitely not the whole thing though.” Boise Hawks, I have questions.
Eugene Emeralds – Eugene, Oregon
What a funky, awesome hat. I had to do a little bit of research with these guys, because this team is all over the map with branding. Their mascot is Sluggo, a really cuddly (if nuclear shade of green) bear. Their logos, however, feature (for whatever reason) Bigfoot. This logo, is supposed to be the pad of Bigfoot’s foot, which is cool, I suppose. Plus it makes an E, looks a little like a science-y logo, and I’m a huge nerd. I like this hat a lot, I think it’s one of the more fun, funky hats that I’ve seen. I do wish they had this logo on a hat that wasn’t Forest Green. It would be better if the black of Bigfoot could pop a little more, and the darker green takes away from the neon just a tad. Not enough to make this hat lose it’s “best” status, but definitely makes it not quite as awesome as it could be.
I get it, okay? When you name a team the “Emeralds” you have a problem in branding. Is your team a precious stone? Is it more an ethereal color concept? These are hard questions. Why you decide to go with Bigfoot is a little beyond me, but why he’s chomping down on a pine tree is more confusing. The scale of this character is strange, like I thought Bigfoot was max of about 8 feet tall. This hat would suggest that Bigfoot gives King Kong a run for his money, and should be wrestling Godzilla. Then can we talk color scheme for a second? There are three separate greens on this hat. Bigfoot is in a dark, but lightened Green, the brim is in a dark turquoise, and the tree is the electric green from the logo on the hat above. Plus by making the hat black, Bigfoot doesn’t stand out as much. It just feels like there are a lot of ideas going on here that aren’t executed really at all. And the fact that Bigfoot can floss with a pine tree makes me uncomfortable.
Hillsboro Hops – Hillsboro, Oregon
The Hillsboro Hops know how to make a hat. And I’m hoping that with a name like this, they know how to make a beer. Methinks I’d like to visit Ron Tonkin field and have a brew while wearing one of their hats. I have spent a solid amount of time deciding between four caps that I like a lot. This is a surprising winner for my tastes. I don’t generally love flat brims, opting to curl brims myself, but I think I’d wear this one. Can we talk about the mischievous Hop looking at you from under that hat? The other reason why this hat won? Because it featured my second favorite hat (which you can find here) in the logo. If that’s not great hat branding, I don’t know what is. A hat within a hat, you just inception-ed the hat game, Hillsboro Hops. Well played.
I feel like they knew this was coming. By naming their hat “shadowed” they are acknowledging that this is a choice, and therefore it wasn’t a design made in a vacuum. They are actively apologizing, or at least asking us not to comment on them. It’s like the disclaimer at the front of Pasek and Paul’s Dogfight which basically says “yes the things said in this show are horrifically sexist, but that’s because all the characters that you’re supposed to root for are horrifically sexist. Enjoy!” It’s not really an apology, it’s just an acknowledgement that there is, indeed, a problem, but by pointing it out they’re hoping that they won’t get yelled at for it. Sorry Hillsboro Hops. The contrast on this hat is a nightmare, nothing really stands out, the texture on the hat actually makes the contrast harder to discern, and then the rest of the hat (not pictured) is black, which could have alleviated a lot of the problems here.
What a great movie this was. “If peein’ your pants is cool, I’m Myles Davis!”
Just kidding, the rest of your hats are super fly and so you get many points.
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes – Keizer, Oregon
There aren’t a lot of hats that are purely abstract in their design. So this one is getting the nod for being different and fun and cool. I like that they allowed an all black hat to pop the design, and I love how the design is drawn in a sort of cartoony, hand-sketched way that makes it feel unique. This logo could be really hokey, or really boring. This one is neither, and this hat is sweet as hell.
In our time together, intrepid reader, what have we learned about me?
1. Contrast is important
2. Make your logo stark, and easily interpreted
3. Allow lettering to be legible
4. Color schemes are important
All of the above are violated by this hat, starting with the baseball exploding through the V–
–with its undefined face, and then moving on to the words which are super close together, not well defined, finishing with the fact that the reds are really similar and hard to distinguish. This hat is a mess. I would be really interested in seeing JUST the V with the baseball on a hat, that could be cool if given a better color scheme and more definition. Get on that, Volcanoes.
Alright, we did it. We’ve gone through the whole Northern League hat collection. But now it’s time to award top and bottom marks.
Best in Show
Boise Hawks – Boise, Idaho
Man, this was a hard decision. Sorry to the Eugene Emeralds, because that hat is also kickass, but the Hawks obviously understand color scheme better than you do, Same base color, but the Hawks’ hat jumps out at you. I really want one of these hats. I may go order one right now. Good work Boise, good work. Now please do something about your unnecessarily gendered options.
WORST IN SHOW
Spokane Indians – Spokane, Washington
There’s so many problems with this hat that it’s the clear winner. This hat really accomplishes nothing, features hard to read wording, and then has the weird opaque logo faded on the upper left side of your forehead. I imagine wearing this hat would be weird, because people would come up to you and squint to see what the S and the Feather are. I can imagine that some people would think it was a flower, or something like that. So you just have strangers coming up to look. Or if they don’t? Then they’re definitely talking about you after they walk by. This is not the hat to buy, especially given how cool this teams other options are.
Thanks for sticking with me on this journey. Stay tuned for breakdowns of more of your favorite leagues. Disagree with my choices? Share your favorites in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter at @neddonovan or @3up3downblog. Be sure to check out the other great authors on this site, and read their much more knowledgable and researched work. You won’t be disappointed.