Are Baseball Caps Trad???

The title of this post is certainly going to resonate with Trad forumites as this is one of the quintessential ways that one uses to step into unknown territory. Luckily, for the sake of this blog I ask the question in jest as I already know the answer. Yes, baseball caps are trad, but like any article of trad clothing it is all about the where and the when.
Brooks Brothers Tartan Ball Cap

Brooks Brothers Tartan Baseball Hat

 I recently picked up a new baseball cap which caught the colleague that I was with by surprise. They told me that they did not think that I wore ball caps. This did not shock me, because my work appearance is not one that you would especially associate with baseball hats. However, I assured my coworker that I do occasionally sport a cap.
Wool Bean Baseball Hat

LL Bean Baseball Hat
Ball caps are a handy item to have around. I throw my hat on if I have to run really early or late errands, or when I am just looking scruffy, but there are lots of other times when wearing a ball cap is trad sanctioned. This includes ball games, golf, hiking, boating, yard work, fishing, or anytime that you find yourself outside without sun, wind, or rain protection, even in your work clothes.

What kind of baseball caps are acceptable you ask? Well, there are no hard and fast rules accept that you like it. This could be your favorite team, a club that you belong to, a plain cap, one with a needlepoint embroidery, or even a tartan patterned cap that would be perfect for fall chores, and even though I made a big stink about wearing clothes with logos a baseball cap is one logo’d item that doesn’t get me bent out of shape.

I hope that this post has provided a little relief to any of my ball cap sporting readers. Know that you are not alone. If you are in need of a baseball hat both Ideal Cap Co. and Ebbets  are great places to start. Just remember to take off your cap when indoors!

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

19 Comments on "Are Baseball Caps Trad???"

  1. Joel Vaughan says:

    Good for you in using the term “cap” and not “hat” although, you slipped a couple of times. A hat has a full brim and a cap has a bill in the front. Just another way modern culture has adulterated the English language, in calling everything a hat. Donald Trump does not wear a hat, he wears a cap. Even the so called expert news media cannot get it right. You did!

  2. Dutch Uncle says:

    Solid navy
    Solid khaki

  3. John M says:

    Thank you for this. My late father-in-law was a successful cattle rancher for more than 50 years, long celebrated in the business, a true “Marlboro Man” if ever there was one. But in all the years I knew him, this hardened rancher never wore western-style duds. Never saw him in jeans; he wore khakis, of tough fabric. Never saw him in cowboy boots; he wore lace-up work boots or shoes. And most, I never saw him put on a cowboy hat. Ever. He always wore ball caps. Always.
    And, as you mentioned, he took the thing off when indoors. My father and grandfather drilled it into me that a gentleman always removed his hat or cap when entering a building, and keeps it off until he leaves. “Wear it inside, Billy Hick, and you brand yourself a rube – or worse,” they would say. It is polite to remove the hat indoors, and keep it off. And polite is something we could use a lot more of these days.
    Thanks again for this post.

  4. George says:

    I think there is a distinction to be made with regard to the size of the bill. Shorter bills, in my estimation, seem less somehow (pun intended), whereas longer bills (think Filson, et al) make more of a statement…and shield more rays, to boot. Perhaps a trifling point, but something to ponder however briefly.

  5. Roger C. Russell II says:

    I probably will viewed as not having a productive contribution to a Trad conversation here. However, I can not miss the opportunity to tell the world about my baseball cap. It is an Authentic MLB SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS hat. I have come to the conclusion that my heart does not beat like everyone else’s, instead mine says SAN FRAN CIS CO over and over again. It is of course black with orange lettering and does not match anything else I own.
    I actually wear a lot of western hats, I have a huge collection that I have amassed over the years. I would like to take them off indoors. However, I get hat head so bad most people think I an better off leaving my hat on. Most people that know me never see me dress western. I have eleven horses and they have to be exercised. Believe it or not being up on a horse is just high enough to the sun that you really feel it. A baseball cap does not help your neck and the wide brim width is necessary for my eyes.

  6. Lexophile says:

    Artist’s rendering of the “prole cap” from Paul Fussell’s “Class”:

  7. Camford says:

    Thank you, Dutch Uncle and Lexophile,
    for introducing me to Paul Fussell’s Class.
    Here’s a relevant quote:

    “There are psychological reasons why proles feel a need to wear legible clothing, and they are more touching than ridiculous. By wearing a garment reading SPORTS ILLUSTRATED or GATORADE or LESTER LANIN, the prole associates himself with an enterprise the world judges successful, and thus, for the moment, he achieves some importance. This is the reason why, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway each May, you can see grown men walking around proud to wear silly-looking caps so long as they say GOODYEAR or VALVOLINE.”

  8. Gary K says:

    May I offer a recommendation to check O’Connell’s for good, well-made baseball-style caps? Last I checked, they even offer a cashmere variety.

  9. Roger C. Russell II says:

    Holy crap! I knew I had some issues. I going to have to look in to this prole thing and get some help.
    I just thought I really liked the Giants.

  10. Jim W says:

    Despite the man’s ability to turn a phrase, I feel that Paul Fussell was bitter and crippled by his own class insecurities. As a platoon commander in WWII, I hope he didn’t wear his views towards ‘proles’ on his sleeve, otherwise, he might have been met with an unfortunate ‘friendly fire’ accident by his own men!

    Oh, right – we were talking about caps, weren’t we? Most caps/hats look silly, lets face it, whether they be a cotton bucket hat for boating, a hipster pork-pie or a rough Irish tweed driving cap ( ref. Horrible Protestant Hats, by PJ O’Rourke). At the end of the day, though, some sort of cap is practical and appropriate to the task. I’m also conscious of not wearing logos on my clothing, so it might be said that cap with a college or sentimental sports logo is a guilty pleasure justified by practicality.

  11. Will Barrett says:

    A more interesting subtext to this conversation is assuming that caps are acceptable and then working through what form of cap is good – color, style of logo, etc. For example, there is a certain type of ball cap that SEC/ACC trads would find acceptable, while other styles would be anathema. A subtle brand logo – PRL, VV, Lacoste, SP – might work but a large one would never. There’s a lot of wiggle room here and it’s fun to decipher. Collegiate caps made The Game (not the rapper) always seem to work well for Southern trads.

  12. Charlottesville says:

    At W&L (University in Lexington, Virginia, for our Yankee readers) in the 80s the bookstore sold a baseball cap emblazoned with crossed golf clubs and the words “Washington & Lee Country Club.” It was intended as a joke, but there was a certain amount of truth in it. I generally wear a “real” hat, Panama in the summer and felt fedora in the winter. The “horrible Protestant” Harris tweed cap also makes it into the winter rotation. However, there is something to be said for a W&L ball cap when in a convertible, on a boat or on other occasions when a polo shirt and khakis or shorts, rather than a suit or sport coat, are the appropriate rig.

  13. Steve P says:

    I agree that caps are OK trad apparel in context. Errands, sun, rain, messy hair, whatever. Trad cap styles to me are school/college caps, team caps (in their proper colors), plain caps, golf clubs, etc, with the proper “Mickey Mantle” curve to the brim. Definitely not straight across, over the ears, etc., etc. JMHO

  14. Markus says:

    Yes they are, I use solid navy cap!

  15. Andy Gilchrist says:

    Hi Jerrod

    Is it possible to see a photo of you wearing a cap in a future post? I think it would be nice.

    Your friend,


  16. Tommy says:

    I’ve a couple of ebbets, wanna eventually get an ideal. I’ve also got a Phillies beater cap, which I need to replace. I’ll probably go for one with the 1951- 1970 logo, since that fits with my style better.

    Never had a problem with ebbets and would recommend them for sure.

  17. paper clip says:

    I agree with Steve P on all points. I love ball caps, but only traditional ones. I like to try to find unique ones when I travel – ones that don’t look like “insert local thing here” on the front. I like minor league baseball – the more obscure the better, but only with a simple design. No multi colored caps, please. No brand logo caps, either. I had one of the filson ball caps with the insulation and ear flaps for rain days, but I lost it this fall. I will likely replace. It had filson on the front in small letters the same color as the cap.

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