(Todd Tomorrow, Francine Fishpaw, both unavailable for comment)
With a company rep claiming that wool “isn’t a performance fabric,” come Opening Day, New Era’s venerable 59/50 MLB caps will be reintroduced with a 100% polyester model writes USA Today’s Gary Mihoces.
MLB and its cap manufacturer, New Era, say the new fabric is designed to “wick” away sweat and evaporate it while reducing the stains, odor, shrinkage and fading that come with wool.
Most players haven’t donned the new caps, but opinions are forming.
“Some of the guys might want to keep the old ones,” Chicago White Sox catcher Toby Hall says. “You see some guys out there with their sweat rings, some hats that have (faded and) turned pink. They don’t want to get rid of them.”
But White Sox outfielder Darin Erstad says, “I like the old school as much as everybody does, but technology has shown its face in every facet of life. So why not reap the benefit of it? … We’ll find out when it’s 100 degrees and the sweat’s wicking its way from my head onto the hat. Then we’ll know how good it is.”
In the old caps (above, right), the bottom of the brim was light gray. In the new caps (left), it is black, aimed at reducing glare. The cloth headband inside the cap, also advertised as new and improved for removing moisture, has gone from white to black.
Steve Vucinich, equipment manger of the Oakland A’s, says the black bottom of the new brims might require some adjusting for players who like to write inspirational words in black ink.
But Vucinich, who saw about a half dozen A’s test the new caps during games over the past two seasons, welcomes the switch. He says on hot days he would notice sweat “pouring” down the sides of players’ faces, particularly pitchers, under the old caps.
“Where the bills connect to the hat on the right side and left side, it would mostly drip off there,” Vucinich says. “With this wicking, you don’t see that at all.”