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Tip of the Cap: The Northwest League

Tip of the Cap: The Northwest League

Estimated Reading Time: 13 Minutes

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Tip of the Cap! Tip of the Cap is a weekly series from Turf Writers Ned Donovan and Andrew Wilhelm 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 will 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 Northwest League is a Class A Short Season League in the Northwest US and Western Canada. Their teams include:

In terms of the personal fandom of the authors, Andrew Wilhelm is a Detroit Tigers fan and Ned Donovan is a Boston Red Sox fan. Neither team has a minors affiliate in this league.

Opening Remarks

Andrew Wilhelm

There are so many fire hats in this league. So many. I’m starting to think this column might hurt my wallet. (Sarah, if you’re reading this, I’m kidding) As always, bucket hats are a no go for anyone.

Ned Donovan

Welcome back everyone! Did you miss us? It’s time to discuss some hats. This one is going to be contentious because there are only 8 teams in this league and we need to select 10 total hats EACH. I feel like there will be a lot of crossover which opens a LOT of chance for disagreement. Just as a reminder, camo hats are trash. Alright. LET’S DO THIS!

Bottom 5

Here we go. Hats that are not it, the ones that someone should feel embarrassed about making. We’re embarrassed on their behalf, for sure.


Andrew Wilhelm – Tri-City Dust Devils – Fitted Old Home Hat

Honestly, this hat isn’t terrible. It’s just remarkably boring. The color scheme is too simple and the logo is uninspired. Really it’s just the logo that’s putting this in my bottom five. I had a tap open with about 10 total hats that could’ve made this spot but in the end, I just really don’t like that logo.

Ned Donovan – Spokane Indians – Holiday Sweater Adj Red Cap

What in the name of evangelical hell is this? From the moment I saw this hat on the page, I knew it was going in the top 5. There was no question in my mind. No one needed a hat where the brim was a Christmas sweater. Why? Because if anyone shows up to Christmas dinner in a baseball cap, they should be socked in the mouth. There is only ONE acceptable use for this hat. Ugly Christmas sweater parties. In that scenario, AND ONLY THAT SCENARIO, I’d probably high-five you. Because the longer I look at it, the more I think…I’d wear that as a joke during the holiday season.


Andrew Wilhelm -Eugene Emeralds – Boy Peanut Cap

Okay. The Emeralds seemingly have 5 or more different logos. This one if Bigfoot eating a tree. I think. It’s whatever. What is NOT okay is all the writing on the front panel. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO FOCUS ON? My eyes cannot process this with one glance and it becomes even more cluttered the longer I look at it. Garbage pile. (Ned Note: what is it about caps designed for children that makes designers go “let’s make an incomprehensible mess?)

Ned Donovan – Everett AquaSox – Home Fitted Cap

There are so many things I want to like about this hat. For starters, I like weird cartoony hats, so in that regard, this should get an A+. It just….doesn’t. There are so many issues here. We’ll start with how much the frog creeps me out. The way it’s looking at me, the sense of glee over the catch it’s about to make, the meta hat on a hat. Why does its tongue change color? I can’t stop looking at the tongue. While we’re on the subject of the tongue, this hat allows teams to say “hey, you guys lick balls!” and there’s really not a comeback.


Andrew Wilhelm -Everett AquaSox – Home Fitted Cap

Clearly, we both don’t like this hat. On top of everything Ned has already stated, the hat on the frog’s head troubles me. Of all the different hats I’ve seen so far with the mascot on the hat wearing another of the teams hat, this is the first to bother me. Because the hat the mascot is wearing is FAR better than the one its featured on. The AquaSox have a bunch of dope headwear. This is not one of them. (Ned Note: please note, I’m about to make the same argument about the Hops in just a couple seconds)

Ned Donovan – Boise Hawks – New Era Glitter Glam 9FORTY CapBoise Hawks - New Era Glitter Glam 9FORTY Cap

Let me preface this by saying I really like this logo. A hawk clutching a baseball in its talons? Dope. Now then WHY IS IT TAKING OVER THIS PERSON’S HEAD?! It’s so massive, the bottom of the logo gets cut off. That’s unnecessary, and a weird design choice. Plus I’m just not a fan of any hat made out of glitter. If this were a purely black and white hat, with a normal sized logo? I’d consider it, though.


Andrew Wilhelm – Vancouver Canadians – Retro Canadian Hat

The web store page for this hat alone is enough to include it on this list. But the color blocking is what cemented it to have such a high spot. The alternating colors of the letters? The weirdly placed red stitching on the front panel? The fact it looks like a beer ad? All terrible. I love you Canada. Do better.

Ned Donovan – Hillsboro Hops – W’s Sparkle Script Cap

No. This hat is a mess. Those are sequins from the dollar store poorly pasted onto a blue hat. They even got the dimensions wrong so the S is cut off by the seam. Hard pass. The most offensive part of the hat? The actual Hop logo is wearing a significantly cooler hat.


Andrew Wilhelm -Spokane Indians – Holiday Sweater Adj Red Cap

Remember last week when I included the crazy Maryland hat in my Top 5? This is kinda the demon hellchild of that concept. For starters, I am not a fan of the ugly Christmas sweater even at Christmas time. Secondly, I could’ve made all 5 of my bottom 5 hats Spokane Indians hats because of this logo. I get the feather is being part of the logo here (though its not always used on every hat and when its not the hats are pretty great), but it drives the S so high up the whole hat looks disproportioned. Ugh. My eyeballs hurt looking at this thing and we’ve got it on here twice.

Ned Donovan – Spokane Indians – 3930 DE Navy Salish Reflective Cap

Let me preface this whole piece by saying this: the fact that the Spokane Indians have made a series of hats putting their logo in the Salish language is wonderful. There are some great hats to choose from that honor the Salish language and people, and if there are some great articles about their partnership. I don’t love having “Indians” as a name, in general, but it seems like the Spokane iteration has done their due diligence.

Now then. What the f**k is this hat? The logo? Great. But see the dark red of the New Era logo on the side? That’s practically invisible. No part of a hat should be unintentionally invisible. But when we look at this brim, I don’t even know what to do. Regardless of how cool it is that it’s in the Salish language, it’s a duct tape brim. Reflective material as a hat? No no no no no. This is beyond ugly. This is terrible. The Spokane team has some GREAT hats, check them out. If you buy this one, however, I’m going to point and laugh at you in a crowd. It will be obnoxious, and degrading. You’ll deserve it.

Bottom 5 Poll

[democracy id=”5″]

Top 5

Alright! It’s the halfway point. Might we just say, it was hard to pick which hats to hate in this league. Generally speaking, the cap selection is solid. Even a couple of those bottom 5 we’d consider buying under the right circumstances. Those circumstances being we’re being held hostage and forced to do so. But still!


Andrew Wilhelm -Salem-Keizer Volcanoes – Authentic Road 59FIFTY

This hat is bold. And when your team is called the Volcanoes you need a bold, beautiful red hat. This nails that. The logo is interesting and pops off the bright hat in a beautiful way. (Ned Note: I love the logo, I love the concept, I think this hat doesn’t pop well because the reds detract from each other, and so I wish the crown and the brim colors were flipped)

Ned Donovan – Everett AquaSox – Official Game Fitted Hat

Simple. Clean. Elegant. A sexy shade of lighting blue. A motherf**king trident. This hat is killing it. I love how simply it is, but how evocative it is. The white border around the lightning blue is a really nice touch because all colors are accented perfectly. This designer also knew to have the dark blue be uniform both in the middle of the logo and everywhere else. It makes the logo built out of negative space, and in doing so, our eyes are drawn to the thin white line. It’s really a fantastic understated cap. I’d wear this. Often. (Andrew note: I LOVE THIS HAT. In fact 4 of Ned’s Top 5 were choices 6-9 for me in the same order he included them here.)


Andrew Wilhelm – Everett AquaSox – Shire Cap

This hat is a blatant ripoff of the classic Patagonia. And guess what? That’s why it’s awesome. The Patagonia hat is one of the coolest logos for a snapback style hat, and the way the AquaSox adapted that style while making it their own is fantastic. And I’m preternaturally disposed to like anything named Shire.

Ned Donovan – Spokane Indians – Fitted Redband Trout

I am not a fisherman. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to do it, I actually love it, but I go just this side of never. However I would wear this hat every single time I went. How awesome is this shade of blue? How amazing is it that every detail of the fish is captured in a way that feels completely natural? How kickass is this color scheme where the accent color on the fish is the brim, grommets, and crown button? This right here is a brilliantly designed hat, and if I thought a giant fish spoke to my life more, I’d buy this hat right now for every day wearing.


Andrew Wilhelm – Hillsboro Hops – 59Fifty Official Home Cap Low Crown

This logo is brilliant. The whole branding of the team is brilliant in fact. What goes better with baseball than beer? Nothing I’d argue. The Hops have many great hats but I like the simplicity of this one and how the Hops logo hops off the cap with that white border. (hops… get it?) Also, I’m a sucker for Low Crown 59Fifty’s and more hats should be available in that style.

Ned Donovan – Hillsboro Hops – New Era 59FIFTY Lúpulos On-field Cap

Remember in the Bottom 5 where I got mad at the other Hops hat for wearing a cooler hat? Well in this case, the cooler hat is not being worn. This right here is a hat beer lovers everywhere should be picking up. The neon green accent color with the black is ALWAYS a great touch. But if you notice, it makes way for the light blue of the team to come through only on the hop’s hat. What a great touch. Also the extremely thick white border allows the details of the hop to shine that much more. This hat stands out in a crowd, and it features a kickass plant ready to punch you in the face. I dig it.


Andrew Wilhelm – Everett AquaSox – Limited Edition Copa Cap

Oh my word the color blocking of this hat is next level. It’s a crazy combination of colors that shouldn’t really work together. The blue and the orange anchor the hat with a classic color scheme that really allows the brightly colored frog to shine. And this iteration of the frog is so much better than that other one we both featured in the Bottom 5. There are 7 different colors on this hat and they are all used to perfection. (Ned Note: Is this a frog or a lizard? Conquistador lizard doesn’t do it for me, but I agree COMPLETELY about the Color Blocking. If I ignore what the hat IS I love the hell out of the overall design aesthetic)

Ned Donovan – Eugene Emeralds – On-Field BP With Boarder

I want you all to know that I disqualified this hat 4 separate times. Why? Because some asshole copyeditor decided that spelling border “boarder” in the description was acceptable. It’s not acceptable. This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. However, we need to talk about the brilliance that is this hat. The color scheme is straight ???, with the glow-in-the-dark green (it does not actually glow in the dark) and black, it’s simple. The white BORDER around the logo makes it pop just that extra amount and allows for the logo to shine. What do I mean by that?

Have you realized what this logo is in its entirety?

IT’S SLEEPING BIGFOOT! Yes, you get that these are the soles of his feet, and the lettering is cool, but look, the M makes the rough shape of a body in a way that the eye totally completes. Plus the white border allowed the designer to create fur for the animal which sells the entire idea. This hat is an A+. Click the button below and buy it. I can’t stress enough how close this was to being the #1 hat. But before we get to my final selection, let’s hear Andrew’s. (Andrew note: Remember last week when Ned chastised my Maryland hat selection? I’m afraid I have to do the same to him here.I understand why that logo should be awesome, but its just WAY to cheesy for me. The hats where they just use the simple E footprint logo are far better to me)


Andrew Wilhelm – Boise Hawks – New Era AC On-Field Home Fitted Hat

This might be the best logo in all of the minor leagues. It’s so good. And once again, color blocking makes this hat. That talon is straight up coming off the hat in the best way. Even the light orange vent holes are doing it for me, especially when they’re tied in to the MiLB logo on the back. I’m buying this hat. There’s no way around it. The Boise Hawks straight up killed the hat game. They’re going to be hard to beat by any other team for overall number of kickass hats, and to me, this is the greatest of the whole bunch.

Ned Donovan – Boise Hawks – New Era AC On-Field 59FIFTY Road Fitted Hat

I am about to make a controversial statement. This hat isn’t just the best in this Class A Minor League. This is one of the best hats in all of baseball. I’m serious. I love this hat so much. The talons ripping through the dark green hat is gorgeous. It’s evocative. If you know the Boise Hawks you’re going to be stoked to see this hat, and if you DON’T know that the minor league team, you should still give this hat props. I would wear this on a daily basis and not think twice. This hat is the reason that in so many ways, Minor League hats are better than their Major counterparts. Buy this hat. Wear this hat. (Andrew note: The only reason this hat sits at number 6 for me is I can’t shake the fear that some random person on the street would mistake this for a Monster Energy hat. That shouldn’t bother me, but it does very slightly. Otherwise I’d own this hat)

Final Thoughts

Ned here. I just wanted to say, the hats in this league are amazing. Minor League Baseball spends a lot of time on theme nights, and weird gimmicks to stay relevant. However they also understand that their merchandise game just has to be better. This league has proven that it can create merch that will sell. Hell, I honestly went and bought a couple of these hats for my collection after this article.

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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