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Tip of the Cap

Tip of the Cap: Carolina League

Tip of the Cap: Carolina League

Estimated Reading Time: 17 Minutes

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Tip of the Cap! Tip of the Cap is a weekly series discussing Baseball’s most important accessory, the Baseball Cap. Is it a cap? Is it a hat? Does it really matter? We’ll probably be using both interchangeably. Every week we look at each league from the Single A Minors all the way to the Major Leagues and ranking their top 5 and bottom 5 hats. What makes us qualified to do this? That’s an extremely good question. 


The Carolina League is a Class A Minor League. Their teams are:

In terms of personal fandom, the Salem Red Sox are a Boston Red Sox affiliate (Ned). Andrew and Brandon are without bias in this league.

Opening Remarks

Andrew Mark Wilhelm

Yawn. What a terrible week. So many blah hats. Some really fire ones, but they were few and far between. Also, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans has over 100 hats to choose from, but most of them were not great. 

Something I wanted to highlight was the Down East Wood Ducks choosing to highlight a bunch of retro hats from the Kinston Indians. Now, at this point I think we all know how we feel about the use of team names such as the Indians and thankfully the team is no longer that. What’s confusing is that the Down East Wood Ducks(who play in Kinston) are not the same franchise that was at one time the Indians. No that team moved to become the Carolina Mudcats and a new team popped up in Kinston a couple years later to become the Wood Ducks. Confused? I am. 

Brandon Andrus

Two teams I couldn’t even find an online store for. I understand with Bowie Creek (They’re Moving) but WTF Frederick? They used to have a great set of caps back in the day. The only one they seem to feature now I don’t like, so there’s that. But I am surprised They don’t even have the option. That being said, the league itself is meh. But the top 5 are a solid top 5. Here we go.

Ned Donovan

Look, this league was already at a disadvantage given that there are only 10 teams, and one of them (Buies Creek Astros) is moving to Fredericksburg so their store is down. However, all of that being said, the remaining nine really did not step up. I found myself capitulating time and time again just so I would have choices to choose from. This set of hats was by far the worst bunch I’ve had to judge thus far in this column. I’m not here to discourage you from reading through, however, because the top hats? They’re dope.

Bottom 5

In a league full of mediocre offerings, these were the ones that made us shake our head the most.


Andrew Mark Wilhelm – Winston-Salem Dash – Official On-Field Fitted Home Cap

There aren’t enough quality purple hats out there. Outside of the Rockies and their affiliates, you don’t see much in the way of purple ball caps. So imagine my disappointment when I saw that this is what the Dash decided to do with their color scheme. What is that logo? Why? Just… ugh.

Brandon Andrus – Winston-Salem Dash – Official On-Field Fitted Alternative Cap

The name DASH was a great idea. Get it? Winston DASH Salem. I just hate the execution of it, and this cap is a prime example. What is with just using the fist letter of your moniker. This happened last week too. I mean I guess the Dodgers did it, so now everyone is. But this cap gives no meaning to the name. Spell out DASH. It’s four letters! And The ball has no legs. So it’s not dashing, it’s flying. I myself would have loved a minimalist take on it and just used W-S or a large – would be cool. Their mascot isn’t a baseball so maybe a rethink for these guys could go a long way. At least make it like running Mr. Met or Redleg. Anyway, their Copa is a solid top 5, so I guess I can eat my own words with the logo based on the Moniker. Small adjustment could go a long way for this franchise.

Ned Donovan – Salem Red Sox – Magenta Carnation

In most leagues, this would be higher than 5. This hat is awful. The jagged lines hurt my eyes, and then right in the middle, is a pink ‘S’ that is nearly impossible to focus on. This is a case of awful brand design. Anyone who thought this would be appealing to the eyes is horribly wrong. Add in that the jagged lines don’t adapt to the curve of the brim and front panel, and it is without a doubt disastrous.


Andrew Mark Wilhelm – Frederick Keys – New Era Black/Orange Home Authentic Collection On-Field Low Profile 59FIFTY Fitted Hat

Boring logo is boring. And the fact that I had to hunt this hat down just for it to end up looking like this makes me upset. Therefore, it ends up at number 4.

Brandon Andrus – Lynchburgh Hillcats – Peanut Toddler Cap

The Lynchburgh rebrand (in my opinion) didn’t make things better. At least before the Hillcat was lovable or quirky. Now it’s violent and feral. So let’s stick it on a cap for kids covered in hearts! I hate this for so many reasons. But the main reason is the rebranded logo is not for kids. Especially toddlers. The L logo would be a better fit for this cap, but that one is awful as well. The whole rebrand logo set is just generically dull. Before you fully commit to this brand for too long, at least come up with an alternate set that’s more kid friendly.

Ned Donovan – Down East Wood Ducks – Adjustabe Trucker Cap with DEWD Logo

Please note that the “Adjustabe” typo is not mine, that’s theirs. Now then, look. I get it. Down East Wood Ducks shortens to DEWD. However that’s not what comes off as you look at this hat. It looks like they’re going for a weird liquid ‘u’ sound on the word “Dude” in an attempt to be cool. It’s not. Next the green of the logo and the outline around it do not pop out of the color of the panels. That’s a problem. Lastly, this is a pre-ripped trucker’s cap. Buying this is the equivalent of buying pre-ripped jeans. Don’t.


Andrew Mark Wilhelm – Lynchberg Hillcats – High Crown Navy & White Alternate Fitted Cap

This hat makes my retinas hurt. That logo is impossible to clearly make out and yet, like a train wreck, I can’t look away. In no way to the colors of the logo match the rest of the hat either. Boo. 

Brandon Andrus – Carolina Mud Cats – Muddy Adjustable Hat

This is not what I meant by kid friendly. It’s like a stoned Walrus pedophile looking for a score. Besides being just bland (Grey on Grey?) there are better ways to appeal to kids. I think the Mud Cat itself was friendly enough. This just made it creepy. Wasn’t impressed with any of their caps really, but this should definitely be thrown in the bin.

Ned Donovan – Myrtle Beach Pelicans – Ladies White Marathon Cap

This hat is so bland I barely have to say anything about it. It’s a white hat, with a barely-adjacent-to-white pink logo. This is a plain white hat. That’s what it is. There is also quite literally no reason this hat is a “ladies” cap except that the logo is supposedly pink. Toxic Masculinity is dumb.


Andrew Mark Wilhelm – Salem Red Sox – 59Fifty Salem Buccaneers Hat

I do not understand this hat. I mean, I know that the Salem Red Sox were the Buccaneers around 30 years ago during one of their stints as a Pirates affiliate. What I don’t understand is why you would feel the need to throw back to that design. And more importantly I don’t know why you would choose to sell a hat that looks like it was designed by a near-sighted 2nd grader who doesn’t know they need glasses yet. This is just bad.

Brandon Andrus – Salem Red Sox – OC Sports Boonie Hat

I loved so many of their caps. But this… no. No one should wear this. Ever. This logo is cool. But this hat? No. Never. It’s socks with sandals. Brown socks with Black shoes. Cargo shorts! No.

Ned Donovan – Carolina Mudcats – Muddy Adjustable Hat

I try not to get to hung up on Toddler hats. They’re always weird, the colors are ridiculous, and why parents think that because a baby is a baby they should wear absurdist headwear, I’ll never know. But that’s the market, and it doesn’t affect me in any way.

Except this hat does.

How does it affect me, you ask? You’re honestly telling me that this “Mudcat” doesn’t terrify you? No matter where I go it’s just there. Staring. Always watching me. Moreso than the eyes thoughm the mouth that transcends the divide between brim and crown is unacceptable. This hat will give me nightmares for years to come. No one buy this for your child. Please, I implore you.


Andrew Mark Wilhelm – Potomac Nationals – P-Nats Camo Cap

This is the worst hat I think I have ever seen. Not just because of the amount of false patriotism it displays or the awful camo design. No. It says P-Nats. P-Nats. Say it a bunch of times quickly. See how long it takes you to say penis. What an awful nickname. And to put it on a cap? Straight blasphemy.

Brandon Andrus – Down East Wood Ducks – New Era Woodies Fitted Hat

What idiot with the mental acuity of a 10 year old boy made this? Remember when all the douchebros (before we knew what a douchebro was) started wearing COCKS Caps in the 90s?  Maybe the Hillcats can make a PUSSIES one? Or why not PECKERS for the Shorebirds? Seriously, grow the fuck up. So much of your branding with this team is top notch. But you had to blow it with this. How am I supposed to feel if I have a daughter and bring her to the game?

Wood Ducks is suck a unique name. Why not put DUCKS or DUCKIES on the bat? Because that wouldn’t be douchey enough. Had to go low brow. That being said, it’s an ugly cap. Black for Black sake is so 90s. I remember when they announced this name I said, “If they make a “Woodies” cap, they’re just another stupid ploy like camo and stars and stripes.” Congrats Ducks, you blew it. (Ned Note: I spent like…20 minutes convincing myself out of putting this in my bottom 5.)

Ned Donovan – Potomac Nationals – P-Nats Camo Cap

In the very first article I promised I wouldn’t get hung up on Camo hats. Why? Because I hate them so much they would always be my bottom. “Okay, Ned, then what are you doing here?” If you were to remove the camo from this hat and make it the best color blocking of all time, this would still be the worst cap in the league. Why, you ask?


No. Hell no. That is not an acceptable abbreviation. If that IS the colloquial way of referring to the team, do not put it on a hat. Don’t do it. It looks terrible. You sound dumb. This hat is idiotic.

Oh and it’s f**king camo.


Top 5

Alright, we’ve made it past the slog. now for the kickass hats. The ones that we are adding to our collections!


Andrew Mark Wilhelm – Salem Red Sox – New Era 59Fifty Game Cap


I’ll be honest, I could take or leave this hat. But I needed a top 5 not a top 4 so here it is. It’s basically a Boston Red Sox hat for the Salem Red Sox, and I know in past weeks I’ve been all about that. But something about this one just leaves me with a “meh” type of feeling. And I don’t think the red button on top is doing this hat any favors, but I don’t hate it. *shrug*

Brandon Andrus – Salem Red Sox – New Era 59Fifty Alternate Cap

It’s nothing new, but it’s a classic. I love it even more with the red brim. If they don’t want to go with the Red Socks as an alternate, I have to say this should be their primary and away. I would love an alternate with that Appalachian Blue Background from Bad Cap #2 As the whole base of the cap then the Red Socks as the primary logo. T’would be very unique. Would definitely buy this without question. But they have another I would buy before this. 

Ned Donovan – Myrtle Beach Pelicans – ASL Cap

I have a confession, I actually don’t love this hat. I’m slotting this at #5 because I love the idea of this hat. For Deaf Awareness Night, the Pelicans are having these hats made. That’s the ASL letter ‘P’ and I love it. The color isn’t great, the yellow outline is weird, but I love the idea of a series of team hats with ASL lettering. Plus you get the pelican logo on the side which is a nice touch. The idea gets the #5 slot in this weak league, the execution is not great, however.


Andrew Mark Wilhelm – Myrtle Beach Pelicans – ON FIELD DIAMOND ERA BP CAP

This is a fantastic BP cap. Navy and gold with a touch of Carolina Blue? Yes please. I’m also digging the unique font the Pelicans are using on this hat and their main caps. The dual shading around the letter is also shows that extra bit of thought that went into making this hat pop. Solid, solid hat. 

Brandon Andrus – Salem Red Sox – OC Sports VA Fitted Cap

A CAP MADE BY SOMEONE OTHER THAN NEW ERA?! Be still my heart. Honestly, I may not like it as much in person, but I love the state online caps when they really represent the state. It is a tad big, but I say why not? The cap’s Virginia is about as big as it can get without being overbearing and the S pops on the dark blue. I know it can’t be, But I wish this was their alternate. Might need to get this one over #5… or maybe both!

Ned Donovan – Myrtle Beach Pelicans – Amble Captain Snapback Cap

This, however, is a cool hat from the Pelicans. Is it perfect? No, but as we’ve learned over the last few weeks, I’m a sucker for a light blue cap. I love the way they went with a dark grey brim, as well. There’s something about the softness to the approach of this hat that really is tied together by the bright gold bill (and eyeshadow?) of the pelican logo. You also have the tiniest light blue eye color that matches the side panels for a nice, tying together feature. This hat is clean, simple, and eye catching. I dig it.


Andrew Mark Wilhelm – Wilmington Blue Rocks – Road Fitted Game Cap

Here’s that baby/powder/university blue color popping up again in my top 5. It just so looks so good, especially when you contrast it with a darker blue. And I love this logo. It also features the other Blue Rocks hat I almost picked for this top 5 on the head of the mascot. So its like a 2 for 1. There are some weeks, this would be number 1. The fact that it’s at number 3 lets you know there are some special things coming up. Get ready.

Brandon Andrus – Down East Wood Ducks – Alternate Khaki Hat

I love a lot of their caps. The hunter theme really works for them. But this Khaki cap? WOW! Why have more teams not used Khaki? It could be the new Cream! I don’t think an alternate toned brim would work here, so I think they nailed this look. I am totally surprised I didn’t pick their orange cap (Orange is my favorite color). I would own this in a second. Classy yet playful. Love it!

Ned Donovan – Wilmington Blue Rocks – Heather Rocky Stretch Fit Cap

This hat fought hard to be #2. I love this hat, and have since the moment I saw it on my radar. The dark grey panel with black side panels creates an atmosphere for that AWESOME mascot to shine. The light blue brim, grommets, and crown button that matches the logo AND the steam coming out of its nose is just a perfect touch. The smartest choice this hat made was to make the seams no-see-ems. Bu having no stitching on the front panel, the whole design has a really tight feel that doesn’t feel crowded at all.


Andrew Mark Wilhelm – Winston-Salem Dash – Los Rayados Copa Cap

Fun fact: Chris Paul is a part owner of the Winston-Salem Dash. I say that because you could and should easily wear this hat to a Rockets game. It’s gorgeous. The whole Copa line of Minor League hats is full of more hits than misses and this is probably the best one I’ve seen thus far. That logo just screams off the vibrant red, and it’s a fantastic logo to boot. Most weeks this would be my number 1, but sometimes a risk needs to be rewarded. You’ll see what I mean after Brandon and Ned give you their number 2’s.

Brandon Andrus – Winston-Salem Dash – Los Rayados Copa Cap

Many teams have really outdone themselves with the Copa caps. And this is one of the best of all of them. Being nitpicky… the red flourishes don’t pop on the cap. But that’s also why I love it! It’s bold yet subtle. Vocal yet understated. If anything really can be either of those. A strong cap that better represents their moniker better than their other caps. Learn from this, Dash.

Ned Donovan – Winston-Salem Dash – Los Rayados Copa Cap

How can you not love this cap? I love these Copa de la Diversión hats all over Minor League Baseball. The teams rebrand to promote hispanic leagues and culture, and they get some kickass merchandise to boot. Usually I would hate that the accent lines are red to match the cap, but somehow they create a texture that I love. The R is so clean, yet so unique, and the dots on each of the pieces give a feel unlike any logo I’ve seen in Baseball. The dark blue crown button and grommets to match the outline of the logo is a fantastic touch that allows the solid Red cap to make a statement. This hat is brilliantly designed and executed.


Andrew Mark Wilhelm – Down East Wood Ducks – Alternate Khaki Hat

Do you know why there are so few khaki colored caps? It’s because they’re seemingly impossible to get right. I have seen many a khaki hat in my day, especially by people who must match their hats to their shoes, including their Timbs. This is possibly the first one I’ve seen that has nailed it. And boy has it ever nailed it. Not only is the logo a 5 star logo, but it tonally matches the khaki coloring. And the wood bat is such a damn good touch. I LOVE this hat. It shouldn’t work, and yet here it is at number 1.

Brandon Andrus – Wilmington Blue Rocks – Adult Royal/Gold Faux Fitted Cap

The Blue Rocks are the best at their brand in this League. All their caps are #1 in my book. I don’t understand it all, but it doesn’t matter. The celery, the moose, they did it first before all other teams. They had fun. And this cap is exactly a marriage of serious and fun. I am partial to Royal Blue and Yellow Gold (Ithaca College Alum) which is why I chose this above all their others. The logos incorporation of the state is subtle, unlike #4, but that’s why it works. It’s new and retro, classic yet modern. I have an old Wilmington cap, which I just realized is a BR logo! (I may have to rethink my criticism of Charlotte Stone Crabs last week.) I am going to need to get this one as well. (Ned Note: This is my #6 for SURE)

Ned Donovan – Down East Wood Ducks – Alternate Khaki Hat

I never thought I would love a khaki hat. The moment I saw this cap, however, I knew it would be the winner. This is the only hat in the Wood Ducks selection that features the mascot wielding a branch. They have this disastrous “Woodies” hat, but no more of this fantastic logo.

Let’s talk color. This hat makes perfect use of it. The duck features so many colors it should hurt your eyes, but the greens, oranges, yellows, whites, and tans work in such glorious tandem with fantastic black outlining that each piece feels like a well executed piece of the larger whole. They then buck the trend so many teams go with by not matching grommets to crown button. That choice is unique, and fantastic for this hat.

If you tried to pitch me this hat, I’d tell you that you were insane. I’m so glad to be proven wrong.


Closing Remarks

Andrew Mark Wilhelm

We’re going to wrap up A ball clubs next week and I certainly hope the final league brings it harder than these offerings from the Carolina League. So much meh.

Brandon Andrus

All in all I am disappointed with the league as a whole, but hopefully the success of some of the rebranding recently can inspire some of these teams to put a little more effort into their identity.

Ned Donovan

Not great selections, overall, but the ones that were great are so very solid. As we keep moving up the Minor Leagues I’m hoping that hat selections pick up. Given how fantastic some of the lower leagues have been, the Carolina League really has no excuse for this poor showing.

In Summation

Do you agree with us? Hate us? Do you have a hat that you think should be winning this battle? Drop it in the comments, tweet it at us, throw a picture of yourself wearing it on instagram and tag us @the_turf_sports. We’re on Facebook, Reddit, and even Linkedin if you care to follow us there. Right below where you’re reading this (well, past the ad), there are some share buttons. So it’s really easy to send this to your friends who will hate our selections. DOOOOO IT.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm is a professional Sound Engineer/Designer, and amateur photographer, writer, musician who recently relocated from California to Rochester, NY. Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit has made Andrew an avid fan of all things Detroit but nothing more so than his beloved Detroit Tigers. Every year he tells himself he won't drink the Lions Kool-Aid, and every year winds up heartbroken come January. A Spartan by heart, and a Golden Grizzly by degree, you can catch his (almost) weekly Hot Takes every Hump Day here at The Turf.

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