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Leaks, Promotions Hint at This Year’s MLB Armed Forces Day Caps

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MLB hasn’t yet revealed the designs for this year’s holiday merch-dump caps, but I think we can now say with a fair degree of certainty that the caps for Armed Forces Day (officially observed on Saturday, May 20, although MLB often engages in holiday creep by having teams wear the caps for the full weekend) will be olive with a tone-on-tone American flag behind the team logo.

The first hint of this came a month or so ago when the Pirates posted their 2023 promotional schedule, which shows them giving away this replica Armed Forces Day cap on May 21:

I mentioned that giveaway cap in my MLB Season Preview but wasn’t sure whether the on-field caps would match the giveaway design. Now, however, several more breadcrumbs have been added to the trail. First, the retail site Rally House has a listing for a Tigers Armed Forces Day cap with the same design as the Pirates giveaway cap. In case they take down that page, here’s a screen shot:

Rally House does not have similar fitted cap listings for any other teams, at least that I can find. But they do have adjustable caps with the same design template for the Cubs, Rangers, and Astros. Again, here are screen shots of those listings, just in case:

In addition, has a listing for a Nashville Sounds Armed Forces Day cap (but not for any other teams that I can find), again with the same design. Minor league teams wear the same holiday caps as the big leaguers, so this makes sense. Again, here’s a screen shot, in case they disable that page:

Add these clues together and you get a very strong likelihood that this is indeed the (awful-looking) cap template for this holiday.

It’s not yet clear when the holiday caps will be officially unveiled, but it usually happens sometime in April. The first merch-dump holiday is Ma’s Day on May 14, so early May is the longest they could conceivably wait.

(My thanks to @redhalo714, Rex Doane, and Phil for their contributions to this entry.)



ItEM! New Premium Article

It turns out that America has some seriously weird-looking high school baseball fields, and a guy named David Hrusovsky is on a mission to document all of them. For this week’s Premium article over on Substack, I intervieweed Hrusovsky about this project, and also about how he’s become famous for dressing up like SpongeBob at Cleveland Guardians games.

You can read the first part of the article here. In order to read the whole thing, you’ll need to become a paying subscriber to my Substack (this will also give you access to my full Substack/Bulletin archives), which I hope you’ll consider doing. Thanks!



Can of the Day

Probably the friendliest-looking can of poison you’ll ever find. Love the little slogan at the bottom: “Changes Grease to Suds!”

Comments (52)

    I am so sick of these trash hats. I’m all for supporting the Armed Forces, but there should be no uniform element to it. Have a little ceremony before the game, honor members of the Armed Forces in between innings, etc etc. They can sell these hats in the team store, but please, no more stupid hats like this or for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc on the players during the games.

    I’m sure it’s been discussed here, but when did playing dress-up become the necessary way to venerate institutions in baseball?

    Geez, Richard, how about teams only wear white at home and gray on the road, their regular hats all the time, and leave it at that? Now that’s a concept I can get behind. Unfortunately, those days are long gone, and if you’re going to have teams wearing City Disconnect uniforms and softball tops, they’re also going to wear various other caps and uniforms throughout the season.

    Why do use the term “softball tops” pejoratively? And no, I don’t care about the name. I don’t see how there can be an issue with a professional sports team wearing a coloured jersey (especially for fans of uniforms, which we supposedly all are here).
    To my knowledge, MLB teams began wearing coloured uniforms in the 1960s, and it really exploded in the 70s (not to mention previous outliers such as the Cubs). Is that not long enough ago to be considered traditional by now?

    Colored baseball jerseys and long pants go back to the mid-19th century. Now they’re sneeringly called “softball tops” and “pajama pants” but there’s nothing new under the sun.

    Would you prefer “uncuffed” to “pajama style”? Either way, it’s connoting a way of wearing them.

    Since I can’t respond to the replies to my comment, I will respond to myself.

    “Unfortunately, those days are long gone” at the very least implies that there is a time-based element to the opinion.

    Totally agree. Why not have the teams dress like two separate teams, rather than everyone wearing the same hat like 20 times a year?

    One of the things I loved about baseball was the varied, irregular dimensions of the playing fields. I can’t fathom the type of person who thinks any 375-foot hit over an 8-foot wall should be a home run, period. But they’re out there.

    Ummm… show me a stadium where it’s 375+ to the foul poles. This isn’t anything new. If you are talking about dead center, sure; but most foul poles are 350 or less from home plate, majors and minors alike.

    I believe MJ inferred from your line of “any 375-foot hit over an 8-foot wall” to refer to a uniform pole-to-pole radius, since you did not specify a field location.

    You can hit a 375 foot homerun in any major league stadium. Probably in any minor league or college stadium. I don’t think I understand your complaint.

    Who buys this crap? Are there enough guys out there who are stuffing their closets with these ugly caps (and jerseys)? Can’t imagine MLB sells enough of this garbage to make it worthwhile. Enough.

    No camo, but somehow even worse.

    For my money, these league wide promotions where every team dresses exactly the same have done far more damage to the on field aesthetics of baseball than any sleeve ad.

    I agree with you on every team wearing the same look. I think it would mean more if each player could choose a patch representing a branch of the armed forces of their choice and wear them on the upper chest (let’s say, ooohhhhh… right over that little check mark?). They wouldn’t have to create specially designed patches but they could. Let each player choose the branch that actually means the most to them personally. Then they could auction off those autographed game worn patches and give the proceeds to veterans charities or something, and if they did specially designed patches they could sell those retail and do the same with the proceeds. But, well, I hold out little hope that they’d do that.

    I like these caps a better than some of the prior Military Appreciation caps. There are only so many variations of the a camo design. I like the flag in the front, and the patch on the side is a different take. It looks good. Probably the best version of these.

    I like some of the special event caps. Not all of them. I buy the ones I like. I enjoy wearing them.

    I know not everyone agrees. That’s fine.

    I agree with you insofar as these are the best paramilitary caps MLB has made. But in my opinion, that makes these the best of a bad idea that is generally not well-executed or even necessary. But I simply choose not to buy them; I wouldn’t stop you from spending your money. Live and let live and all that.

    Love the baseball dimensions discussion.
    I think this one of the main reasons it is my favorite sport to attend games and watch live. I love to visit new ballparks and check out the field, stadium, amenities, neighborhood, etc.
    Interestingly I played babe ruth level baseball on a similar (but even worse) field to Delaware sample. As the story went, when the school was built one neighbor wouldn’t sell any of his property. He owned a large rectangular lot on the next street that abutted the field. So the field was essentially missing a huge chunk of land where center field should be. Thus, there was triangular corner of his property which came all the way into mid center field depth. Hazardous chain link fence came to a point in dead center.
    I did hit my 1 and only career home run on that field, thanks to that fence. Would’ve been a routine fly to center fielder at almost any other field.

    I’m really tired of seeing the American flag rendered in different colors.

    I like the special uni’s honoring the troops. Just like the National Anthem it’s a unifying force. Just my opinion though.

    There has got to be a Flag Code violation here. Any aspiring attorneys want to make Manfred’s life miserable?

    Actually, the flag code is not legally enforceable. In practical terms, it’s just a set of suggested etiquette guidelines.

    The Flag Code is not legally enforceable. So aspiring litigants can stand down.

    But the Flag Code does provide the basis of flag etiquette, and this promo cap violates the Flag Code, so it is flag desecration. Relevant sections of 4 U.S. Code § 8 – Respect for flag:

    (e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

    (j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.

    Unless MLB can guarantee that no ballcap will be soiled or damaged by a player on the field, then it’s absolutely improper to embroider a flag on a cap. It’s flag desecration to slide on the basepath while wearing a helmet with a flag on it. And the Flag Code also bans the display of the flag on any uniform at all. And yes, a shadowed green-on-green flag is a flag. Title 4 broadly defines “flag” as anything that resembles the flag of the United States. If an observer would reasonably see a thing as representing the flag, it is the flag, so the rules of flag etiquette apply. Ghosted camo color flag, embroidered flag patch, flag sticker, you name it: If it looks like a flag, it’s a flag, and should be treated with exactly the same respect as a 3’x5′ flag flying from a pole.

    Just curious as I read this, do these relate to the use of actual flags, or would it also cover any image or graphic of a flag? I can totally see how cutting up a flag and sewing it into a uniform would be a horrible thing. But these caps aren’t flags, but rather embroidered graphics that aren’t even in flag colors. A strict reading of the code would make it seem like Team USA’s in the World Baseball Classic would be a violation.

    Interesting discussion.

    The flags in use in the Main Street USA section of Disney World have fewer than fifty stars so nobody needs to furl them when it rains. Are those considered American flags?

    They’re ugly, ugly caps. I’m also tired of the ceaseless veneration of the armed forces and feel that a cash-grab opportunity (to sell more hats), should feel insulting.

    OK, give veterans free access to games, honor them on occasion before games, sell team t-shirts with inspirational slogans with the proceeds going to charities for veterans, anything but wearing and selling these ugly caps and/or uniforms in actual games Same goes for the NFL and their camo gear. There are many ways to honor veterans in a correct way within a sports context and this is not one of them.

    Looking forward to the day when a few major leaguers say, “I can’t in good conscience wear uniforms which glorify the military and war, owing to my religious beliefs as a conscientious objector.”

    Or even, “I haven’t earned the right to adopt their colors. I honor them, but I am a baseball player. They do not march into battle with Minnesota Twins gear….”

    I’ll support them if they do. This pandering “military appreciation” crap was the original sin that obliged players to numbly acquiesce to stands that no man should HAVE to acquiesce to.

    Played high school baseball in Baltimore City eons ago. We played on a field in Druid Hill Park that was up against the Baltimore Zoo. If you hit it good down the right field line, you could conceivably hit the Reptile House. We also played on many fields that had no fences. In another city park, the fields were similar to the one shown in the article, but with no fence. In center field, you played so that you faced the centerfielder of the game behind you. Lots of “Heads up!”, and “Move!” for balls hit to center.

    This feels like country music goes hip-hop. Just a large fitted straight brimmed hat, now in camo or military green or other earth tones is replacing the black or red or bright colors favored in streetwear styles about a decade ago.
    I understand that this is an age and personal fashion thing, but I can’t wear a 59-50 hat anyway. I have tried to purchase this style number hat before, I felt it was way too much height & a straight brim looks ridiculous on me. I have tried on multiple good-looking designs over the years, but never pulled the trigger because the 59 50 hat was huge. I looked like the original version of giant hat thing some NFL teams were doing last season.

    “a straight brim looks ridiculous on me.”

    It’s not just you. It’s everyone. But you do know you can curve a flat brim, right? I agree with you on the Fitty-nine Fittys though. Those crowns are ridiculously high. I won’t purchase any cap (especially NE) in that style.

    I always curve brims myself, also in the shop right after buying a hat, to show the young employees how old men wear hats and why: to block out the sun. I also hand over all the stickers and labels on top of and underneath the hat, telling them I do not have to look like I just stole it from the shop. It cracks them up completely every time. They als love it and high five me when I point at their straight brims and say: you can see the police coming to get you much better than with my curved brim. It is a generation/fashion thing, for sure.

    You can get a Low Profile 5950 and they have a much better fit. I really dislike the look of a high crown 5950 with a super flat brim, but I have several Low Profile 5950s that I wear all the time. You don’t always see them in stores in great numbers, but they do exist. I believe New Era makes a Low Profile version of all the standard MLB authentics and a lot of their other on-field hats too (City Connect, Spring Training, etc), you just have to look for them.

    I take the crown out of my 59/50s and get rid of the wire backing. Then, a couple wearing a in the shower and let the cap dry on my head usually does the trick. And the brims always get shaped into a curve.

    Can’t wait to see whether MLB forgets again that one of their teams is in Canada, and slaps the Blue Jays logo over top of the American flag on one of those ugly things.

    There’s a You Tuber (Five Points Vids) who’s done a video on the weirdest baseball stadiums in America. Most of them are High School stadia.


    I like these caps better than the camo ones.

    But, I hate the big, ugly patch on the side.

    Aside from their ugliness, why are things like this always olive/cammo green? For the Army? What about Navy and Air Force blue???

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