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An ode to the Yankees hat

From musicians to movie stars, athletes to average Joes, you can find a Yankees hat in every corner of the globe

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

For what follows, I make my invocation to the muses of Keats and Neruda:

Speak, Memory-
Of champions immemorial.
Sultans of Swat
Iron Horses, Joltin’ Clippers,
And Commerce Comets.
Men etched in stone monuments
And roaming hallowed Halls.
Speak
Of the indomitable symbol
Of our immortal team.
Speak, vaunted one,
And tell its tale once more in our time

Shall I compare thee to a blue beret?
Thou art more fitting yet fashionable.
Stark against a sky of midnight navy,
Lie arching ivory pillars of marble.

Trace those slender stitched lines,
Elegant yet utilitarian.
The insignia of an eternal city
Symbolizing one thing: Win.

How do I wear thee?
Let me count the ways.
Sat atop heads young and old,
Under brilliant summer rays.

Forwards, backwards, tilted to one side,
Perched amid a mess of hair.
Pulled down tight to shade the eyes,
This crown do champions wear.

I’m sure Homer, Shakespeare, and Browning are collectively rolling over in their graves. And while this ode cannot hold a candle to Evan’s masterpiece, it was still an enjoyable exercise.

The history of the Yankees interlocked NY logo dates all the way back to 1877. Tiffany & Co. were tasked with designing a Medal of Valor to commemorate New York police officer John McDowell, who had been shot in the line of duty. Thus was born the iconic overlapping NY insignia.

The New York Highlanders adopted this design in 1909. Their uniforms and caps would undergo several redesigns over the following years. The Yankees, as they would become known in 1913, made their final change to the cap, introducing the solid navy hat emblazoned with the famous symbol.

From this point forward, the Yankees hat became affiliated with a winning tradition. It symbolizes absolute supremacy. It denotes unparalleled excellence in one’s field. It signals dissatisfaction with anything short of perfection. And it is these qualities that have vaulted the Yankees hat into the Pantheon of global fashion.

It is a vital part of the quintessential aesthetic of the city: white t-shirt, baggy jeans, and Timberland boots, capped off with a snapback New Era flat-brim Yankees hat. While undeniably New York, the ubiquity of the Yankees hat extends far beyond city limits.

The Yankees hat and logo is arguably the most recognizable international icon. It could very well be the most widely disseminated article of clothing in the world, and with the broadest socioeconomic and demographic reach. The breadth of backgrounds to don this cap knows no bounds.

From Latin pop to K-pop, heavy metal to country and everything in between, the Yankees hat has made an appearance in music videos and on stages across all genres. It adorns the heads of the common man as well as the highest seats in government. Mayors, governors, and presidents alike have worn the famous cap. During his tenure, you practically couldn’t open a New York Post without seeing Rudy Giuliani in a Yankees hat

A wide assortment of celebrities have been seen wearing the Yankees hat. From those who have become synonymous with the hat and made it a part of their brand, like Spike Lee and Jay-Z, to those a little less expected, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Jack Nicholson, no head is too big for a Yankees hat.

The most important characteristic of the Yankees hat is its ability to unite. Josh recently wrote about the healing power of baseball in the wake of 9/11. The Yankees hat was the tangible representative of this mending process. Wearing one meant more than being a Yankees fan or a New Yorker. Feeling its comforting snugness anchored you in a sense of security and engendered an awareness of unity with America’s collective soul.

The Yankees are a truly global brand, and the Yankees hat is its most omnipresent emblem. No other apparel can boast its universal appeal. It has served as a fashion statement at some times, and a beacon of hope at others, and is forever enshrined in baseball and American history.

I would like to finish this piece with an homage to my favorite wordsmith:

Let us go then you and I
While fireworks blaze across the sky
In the stands, fans come and go
Talking of Joe DiMaggio
Do I dare
Disturb the Universe?
Is it a sin
To speak of Bambino’s curse?
But then you should say “Do not yourself blame,
It is the lore and the legend of our game.
So no it’s no sin, it’s not that at all.”
Grab your hat, bat, and glove
And let’s go play ball.

(A humble thanks to Homer (The Odyssey), William Shakespeare (Sonnet 18), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)), and T.S. Eliot (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock) for providing the framework to construct these verses.)