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.
Please give a warm welcome to…
WELCOME TO BRANDON ANDRUS! Brandon is joining our team of hat reviewers as a cap aficionado. After last week’s article about the Northwest League, Brandon had his own thoughts and wrote a response article. After reading it we felt it would be criminal to not have him join our ranks. So without further ado, let’s get down to business! (?To defeat [BEAT! BEAT!] the Huns!?)
The South Atlantic League
- Northern Division
- Delmarva Shorebirds – Salisbury, Maryland
- Greensboro Grasshoppers – Greensboro, North Carolina
- Hagerstown Suns – Hagerstown, Maryland
- Hickory Crawdads – Hickory, North Carolina
- Kannapolis Intimidators – Kannapolis, North Carolina
- Lakewood BlueClaws – Lakewood, New Jersey
- West Virginia Power – Charleston, West Virginia
- Southern Division
- Asheville Tourists – Asheville, North Carolina
- Augusta GreenJackets – North Augusta, South Carolina
- Charleston RiverDogs – Charleston, South Carolina
- Columbia Fireflies – Columbia, South Carolina
- Greenville Drive – Greenville, South Carolina
- Lexington Legends – Lexington, Kentucky
- Rome Braves – Rome, Georgia
In terms of personal fandom, Andrew is a Detroit Tigers fan (no affiliate in this league), Ned is a Boston Red Sox fan (Greenville Drive is the affiliate), and Brandon is a Philadelphia Phillies fan (Lakewood BlueClaws is the affiliate).
This league is full of hats that aren’t really bad enough to be Worst but certainly not good enough to be Best. Finding 10 hats was very difficult and we had more options this week then we have yet. As always, I think bucket hats are the devil. I have to add to that though. Visors are also unacceptable, even if varsity tennis high school player Andrew had an unfortunate affinity for them. The more I do this I have also realized my affinity for 59Fifty’s. I basically already knew this about myself, and because they are the official On Field model it makes it easy, but it should be noted.
In Brandon’s response article, he brought up this column’s first camo hat. I’m still of the mindset that they’re so bad they’re irrelevant. I don’t want my bottom list to be only filled with camo hats, so I skip them for the purposes of this column. I also feel 100% meh about most of the hats in this league. Many teams have hats I would call “fine” and are neither top nor bottom tier. It was not hard to find my 10, despite how many teams are in this league.
Starting off, thanks for letting me play on the Turf! I have always had opinions and never been shy to voice them so, I’m excited to have a great forum to put them on. Now, going forward here are two things you should know about me.
1. I hate the Stars/Stripes/Camo/BS all teams are adopting. I completely question their motives. Mike Puma of the NY Post says Nick Francona (former front office for the Mets) has recently been let go for “criticism of Major League Baseball’s non-transparency regarding proceeds from military-themed apparel worn by players on Memorial Day.” Let’s see how that story develops seeing as he was also fired from he Dodgers for the same thing. Until they change their transparency I will continue to question their motives. But going forward, I won’t harp on every Camo hat unless I feel it’s particularly bad.
2. I have to admit I’m partial to the minors when it comes to caps. They have some great branding going on, and some awful, but that’s easily fixed. It’s fun and I like that. Baseball is a game, and some people are taking the game too serious. Keep the “play” in “PLAY BALL!” I say. That being said, I’ve been able to a see couple of these caps of the SAL in person on the field. Some I didn’t think I’d like changed my opinion when I saw them on the field. Two I even purchased! But before we laud praise let’s sling some mud down in the South Atlantic League.
Kicking off as always are the hats that are just plain bad. These hats should be embarrassed for existing. Let’s begin the parade of these insults to design.
Andrew Wilhelm – Delmarva Shorebirds – I Heart Scrapple Adj. Cap
I don’t know what this promotion was for, but I don’t like it. I’m not a fan of white panels on the front of caps in the first place (see our Tip of The Cap on the ASG hats for more on that), but what is this logo? Not only is it du,b to put a sandwich on the front of your hat, but does it have to be the least appetizing sandwich ever also? I am all about a good breakfast sammich, and whatever that is depicted is not it.
Ned Donovan – Delmarva Shorebirds – I Heart Scrapple Adj. Cap
I had to do some research into this hat. This was a promotion where the team renamed themselves the “Delmarva Scrapple”. Yes, after the apparently-popular-somewhere breakfast meat. The team’s public relation’s team put out a statement on the subject. “This promotion will finally give scrapple the national attention it deserves. While some people have strong feelings about scrapple, if scrapple is wrong, we don’t want to be right.” Guys, scrapple is gross, and this hat offends me for that reason. Add in that it’s a hat with a cartoon breakfast sandwich front and center is downright upsetting to me. I can’t get past that. The reason this hat isn’t farther down the list? If you HAD to make a breakfast sandwich logo and put it on a cap, the color scheme and execution here is pretty good. It’s easy to read. But don’t own this hat. Please don’t.
Brandon Andrus – Delmarva Shorebirds – I Heart Scrapple Adj. Cap
I agree with Ned and Andrew on this one. I love a good pin wheel, and some of the food promotions have been good. But this is just stupid. At least give the sandwich eyes or something like the Biscuits. It’s a sandwich on a cap. That’s it. Even if I loved scrapple, it doesn’t scream scrapple to me. It screams SANDWICHES. (BTW someone should become the Sand Witches, that could be a clever promotion) I’m from Pennsy and scrapple is served bare on plate with eggs as I always remember. Maybe a plate with egg eyes and scrapple smile. Anything but just a plain sandwich. Fail.
[Editor’s Note: A complete agreement at one place is something that we feel should be recognized. This will probably never happen again.]
Andrew Wilhelm – Lakewood BlueClaws – Camo Stretch Fit Cap
I don’t inherently have a problem with camo on hats, but digi-camo is awful. Add to that this terrible ocean topography color scheme and an impossible to see logo and you have a recipe for a terrible hat. Just terrible.
Ned Donovan – Lakewood BlueClaws – Camo Stretch Fit Cap
I’m breaking my own rules on this one, because it’s not true camo. So let’s start with that problem. What are we hiding from? Space invaders? Pac-Man? This pixellated disaster looks terrible. Who would put this on their head and think “I look great today.” The only successful camo going on is that the logo actually is hard to discern because of the mess around it. Hard pass on this hat. Hard. Pass.
Also, Andrew and I have now agreed on two caps in a row. The apocalypse is next.
Brandon Andrus – Rome Braves – Navy Trucker Hat
I know small markets a lot of times adopt the moniker of their parent team. I don’t aways object. But your city name is ROME! Come on. This is just lazy. Hell, call yourselves the Rome Brave Legion, a great twist on the “Braves” branding. On top of that, the most offensive part of the “Braves” is their Tomahawk. Is it Chief Wahoo offensive? No. But it’s up there. As I pointed out last week, there are ways to truly “honor” Native Americans as a team. Spokane and Utah figured it out. This hat says nothing but trash to me. Bad enough it’s just a lazy patch on an ugly trucker hat. And what is with the rope across the brim?! This cap in no way honors anyone when it’s worn, especially the wearer. Rome has a great logo with a baseball wearing a Roman Legionnaires Helmet. That would at least make it see more Rome. This is just a bad knockoff Atlanta cap. (Ned Note: Did you notice that the only time they have that awesome logo of the Baseball wearing the helmet is on a youth cap, and a camo cap? It’s way better than the Doric column, switch out the primary logo, y’all!)
Andrew Wilhelm – Asheville Tourists – Tourists Belt Hat
Remember when I said most of the hats in this league are boring? This was one of the first ones I saw and it is offensively boring. It feels to me like Asheville is leaning into their hipster town status with this hat, and I think they over shot their mark. This hat is just bad and anyone who puts it on their head, ironically or not, has absolutely zero taste.
Ned Donovan – Charleston RiverDogs – Indigo Burst
When I was in kindergarten I thought tie dye was the coolest thing you could do. It blew my mind. I grew out of that by like, 2nd grade. This hat is still stuck there. I ask the same question as my one above: who puts this on their head and goes “I look great?” Why would you make a hat like this, and match the logo to the train-wreck around it? The hat is ugly, the logo is indiscernible, and there is no feature on it that stands out. NEXT.
Brandon Andrus – Columbia Fireflies – Women’s Navy Rosalynn ’47 Clean up
I am not from the south. But I’ve spent a lot of time there and have witnessed the Southern Charm of many of the women there. Perhaps that’s what they were going for with this cap. But it’s a bug on flowers. It’s a stain on an old couch. It’s a hat worn by the crazy cat lady who collects Gone with the Wind memorabilia. It’s just plain awful. They have so many great options with the branding in Columbia. It’s like they didn’t even try. The flowers aren’t even remotely tied to the team colors or name. Last I checked, fireflies come out at night. Wouldn’t a navy hat with stars be more appropriate? Or something in a purple/pink/orange sunset hombre vein? Hell, even a navy cap with black silhouette of the Moon/palmetto would be better. The firefly itself isn’t so bad. But with any of the ideas I just presented, it would feel more appropriate. The glowing green look would really stand out and say, “I’m a fan.” Anyway, whatever southern charm they thought this cap has is lost on this Northern Yankee. (Ned Note: This hat truly is terrible. Thank you for putting it on this list.)
Andrew Wilhelm – Lexington Legends – 47 Brand OHT Nilan Pink Cap
Speaking of hipster bullshit, can we be done with this type of mustache logo as a society yet? Also, more digi-camo, this time with clashing pink accents. I get it, ladies hunt and do outdoorsy things too, but a bright baby pink logo defeats the purpose of camouflage in the first place.Nothing about this hat works on its own and together its just a clusterf**k of awful. The Ladies of Lexington deserve better than this.
Ned Donovan – Charleston RiverDogs – 2014 Stars and Stripes Cap
Damn it, Charleston. How you gonna have two hats deserving of the worst five on here? I always feel weird blaming the Stars and Stripes hats on teams, since the design is league-wide and uniform. But regardless, this hat is bad. The star around the dog logo with the flag in the background creates a muddled mess of a logo that doesn’t pop in any way. The dog is blocking the flag so it doesn’t celebrate anything patriotic. The dog is invisible since the lines are all conflicting with each other. The red with the offset color grommets is uninspired. Ugh.
Brandon Andrus – Lexington Legends – 47 Brand Ladies Glimmer Cap
Some teams really excel at product for women and girls. The Legends are not one of them. There are three women’s caps that are just the worst in all MiLB. One is just pink, one is camo, and then there is this bedazzled piece of crafty crap. It’s trucker, it’s cheap, and it’s just ugly. At least it’s only $16.99. I am not a fan of the mustache logo to begin with, but this takes the cake. You’re the Lexington Legends. Add “Lady” in the middle and you have an alliteration, a whole new mascot and a great way to include women without just making it pink or floral. You guys chose the mustache look. Not me. It’s an uphill climb to brand that logo towards women. But think outside the box. Have a strong armed lady logo that can go head to head with your Mr. Legend. Or maybe use a straight razor. That would be funny and MiLB. I don’t know. This hat’s just a loser not a legend. But you ain’t the lowest level of lame in the league.
Andrew Wilhelm – Charleston RiverDogs – OC Sports Aqua Forma
What in the name of everything holy is this? My eyes physically revolted against this hat the first time I clicked on it. The marketing copy on this link reads “A design surely not already in your collection…” That’s correct RiverDogs and for damn good reason too. If you buy this hat I do not understand you in any way. (Ned Note: Why is there an ellipsis? That ellipsis makes me solidly uncomfortable)
Ned Donovan – Augusta GreenJackets – Pops Adjustable Cap
“Whatchu want, Designer man?” “Give me a logo that is unnecessarily small in a light green that is pretty close to white, and then surround it with a really thick white border.” “Say no more, fam.”
There’s no way anyone saw that hat on the shelf and went “yes a white blob in the middle of my forehead that might have a wasp-like bug or not depending on your vision on it is exactly what I want.” Right? It has to be. This hat is so bad.
Brandon Andrus – Kannapolis Intimidators – Real Tree Frost Cap
They may call it a “cap” but more appropriate would be ‘crap’. There is absolutely nothing to like here. The name, the logo, the pattern and the style all fail. Enough said. Let’s move on to some winners then. (Ned Note: This isn’t an always rule, but if you write the team name on the brim, I probably hate the hat.)
Now then, let’s get to the goods. The hats that we will all be purchasing when we’re done writing this article. That’s right, let’s see the stars of the South Atlantic League.
Andrew Wilhelm – West Virginia Power – On-Field Alternate Fitted Hat
My alma mater colors were Black and Gold. I have an affinity for that color scheme. Because when it works it’s absolutely stunning. I would never actually own this hat because white hats are impossible to keep clean. That’s the only thing from keeping this gorgeous hat higher on this list. Also, the V in the negative space of the W? A+ work.
Ned Donovan – West Virginia Power – On-Field Alternate Fitted Hat
Ignoring the less than pristine photo, I love this hat. White hats are a gamble, they get dirty, they have trouble with color blocking. This hat knows what it’s doing. Three colors, white, gold, and black. They let the white and the black lead the way with the brim, button, and grommets in black, and the whole crown paneling in white. This opens up for a gold W bordered in black, and a black V bordered in gold. The black pops more than the gold, so you’ll notice the black border is much thicker than the gold accent on the V. This is an extremely nice touch. As a bonus, the gold New Era logo disappears a bit because it’s not bordered, so it’s not very noticeable. As someone who doesn’t like the New Era logo, this is good.
Brandon Andrus – West Virginia Power – On-Field Alternate Fitted Hat
Look at that, Ned, Andrew, and I agree again. White caps can be hard to maintain, but when done right they are so rewarding. This gem is worth the trouble I feel. Black and Gold, very West Virginia/Western Pennsy colors. But the black can usually be overdone. Here it’s an accent and makes the logo pop. And the “bolt” V is black instead of gold. Outside the box and totally full of style. Love this cap.
[Editor’s Note: Another clean sweep. You guys realize there are 14 teams in this league, right?]
Andrew Wilhelm – Columbia Fireflies – Black Glow Cap
On the whole, this hat is actually pretty bland. The logo is sorta undefined and doesn’t really pop off the hat in a way I would like. Then why did I include it? Because it glows in the dark. Which on its own isn’t exactly enough to instantly put it in the top 5, but when your team is the Fireflies? Aggressive branding and creativity can pay off and it does here. (Ned Note: I want SO BADLY to love these hats. Glow-in-the-dark hats are way cool if executed right. On every single offering by the Fireflies I was thoroughly underwhelmed.)
Ned Donovan – Asheville Tourists – 2018 Hippies 59Fifty
I don’t know what promotion led to this hat, but I am so glad it did. This is the kind of hat I love to see come out of the Minor Leagues. An underused color scheme of purple and teal. A vivid, memorable logo in the rainbow burst surrounded by stars. Plus a logo that is clearly the Asheville Tourists. I really think this is an excellent hat, and I will be ordering one very soon.
Brandon Andrus – Greenville Drive – Alternate On-field Cap
It is an alternate but I feel it’s the strongest of their cap designs. Truth be told, I already own it. I know the history of the name “Drive”, and even though I am not a fan of it, I am a fan of the city and it’s stadium. The Drive are a Red Sox affiliate who play in a replica of Fenway. This hat honors that relationship. I much prefer this to just calling yourselves by the MLB team name e.g. Rome Braves. If I may be so bold, since every team has these special promotions now, maybe they should become the Greenville “Monsters” for a day and play up not only the Red Sox most iconic feature at Fenway, but their own which is replicated in their stadium. Use Green instead of Red as your palette, but imitate the Red Sox look. Could be very cool. This hat just looks classic like the Red Sox cap it’s meant to honor and is a great alternate for any Red Sox fan who wants to show off their fandom.
Andrew Wilhelm – Augusta GreenJackets – Road “A” On-Field Cap
Here we have another Black and Gold hat with a kick ass logo. Whomever designed this wasp/letter hybrid logo needs a raise. It’s beautiful. The way the wings pop off the A which is already standing out due to the gold outline creates a depth that is pretty unique to this hat. It’s bold in all the ways that could’ve spelled disaster for this hat, but is executed flawlessly. I want it.
Ned Donovan – Augusta GreenJackets – Road “A” On-Field Cap
This hat comes extremely close to being a hat I hate. Its ability to avoid every single pitfall it could have fallen into is why it’s on my top list. The Kannapolis Intimidators should take a lesson or two from this hat, as their logo, to me, is disastrous in execution. This hat is elegant, simple, and evocative. That A is unique to this team. You fully understand that it’s a wasp-like team due to the point of the A and the wings. Plus shout out to a brilliant color scheme where the only real color is the border. Yes the wings have their pop, but the gold is the driving force of this hat. This hat comes extremely close to being a single-tone hat like the ones I hated in the New York-Penn League, but lands just this side of insane. It’s great.
Also Andrew and I are practically the same person at this point.
Brandon Andrus – Charleston Riverdogs – 2018 Holy City Cap
Many cities have nicknames. The Steel City, The Rose City, the Big Apple. Charleston is the Holy City. I think it’s awesome they took this nickname and created an alternate cap for it. It’s simple, it’s clear and it feels like Charleston. A cartoon dog does not. The mascot for the Riverdogs never seemed to fit the city of Charleston to me. It’s a very regal city, not a dog town. But I won’t knock the logo, it’s a good one, I just feel this is a better fit. Maybe a rebranding could happen, but if not, I’ll say this alternate is good enough to please me.
Andrew Wilhelm – Greensboro Grasshoppers – New Era Alternate Fitted Cap 59/50
You cannot look at this hat and not immediately think Miami. It ties into the Marlins color scheme, (and even more so the University of Miami) and lets you immediately know whom the North Carolina club is affiliated with. But on top of that, it works for the team at the same time. Grasshoppers are green. And orange is a bold, but perfect, accent color for green. And the way it ties into the glove of the grasshopper on the logo is great. And then there is the logo itself which could easily be too cluttered but the way the grasshoppers throwing motion fills out the script G is wonderfully. And the fact it looks like both a capital and lower case “G” at the same time to represent the alliteration of the team name is an inspired touch.
Ned Donovan – Charleston RiverDogs – 2018 BP Cap
We’ve talked before about caps that only work in the Minor Leagues. I think this is probably one of them, given the logo is cartoonier than the majors tend to allow. Yet I love this hat. The color scheme is great across the board, with all the colors of the crown, brim, and button well worked into the logo. Plus that dog is cute, and I love dogs. I gawk at animals on the street openly. So this hat is right in my aesthetic, and I’ve already pressed “buy” in my cart. My favorite subtle piece here? The stitching. It frames up the doggo in a really nice way, that I really appreciate.
Brandon Andrus – Hagerstown Suns – Throwback Curly H Hat
Hagerstown has always had a great minor league vibe and great branding. This was my favorite and I wish was still their main look. Love a pin wheel, love whimsy in lettering, and love the colors. Even has an orange button! I would be hard pressed not to buy this over their current home or aways. Funny, I just realized all my favorites in this league are alternates… except one.
Andrew Wilhelm – Charleston RiverDogs – 2018 BP Cap
I’m starting to worry that by the final piece in this series Ned’s and my lists will be identical. Or maybe this is just proof how weak the choices were this week. But everything Ned said above is why this is my favorite hat of the this league. It’s cute because, dogs. It’s something only a minor league team could get away with. The colors work together (even if they aren’t my favorite colors when used for other teams…). And the stitching is damn near perfect. All those things together make it my favorite, even with my bias against white front panels.
Ned Donovan – Hagerstown Suns – 2017 Fourth of July Hat
We’ve hated a lot on 4th of July hats here, however this isn’t just my favorite of that genre that I’ve seen, it’s one of my favorite hats. The colors are great, but with the texture that gives it that classic feel. The logo is almost muted in its execution and yet all of its details pop off this hat. We can thank good color blocking for that. The colors are well-distributed throughout the hat, and the blue crown with matching grommets mean that even though there’s a lot happening on this hat, none of the busy parts detract from the overall experience. This hat is pure gold. Consider it purchased.
Jesus this column is going to destroy my bank account.
Brandon Andrus – Asheville Tourists – Home Cap
I own it, I wear it, I get compliments all the time for it. I actually own two hats from Asheville. Sadly, my other cap is discontinued or it would have been on here. It is the cap that Mr Moon is wearing on this cap. I love the Mr Moon mascot, the diamond reflected in his Moon glasses, and Tourists is a unique moniker no one usually sees. I don’t have the distaste Ned does of mono colored caps. Many times it’s just clean. This cap is clean, fun and wacky. Everything you would want in a Minor League cap. I highly recommend taking a trip to Asheville and become tourist yourself. Worth it. (Ned Note: my distaste is for single color hats. There are many colors on this hat and I think it’s solidly fine)
There they are. Agree to disagree I always say, but at least have an opinion. See you next time. B
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.