Uni Watch: New MLB Spring Training/Batting Practice Hats

In case you haven’t already been spammed by your favorite baseball team, there are new batting practice caps being made this year by New Era. I’ve always been a fan of this still locally owned company and their redesign of the new caps was leaked back in December to Uni Watch. Today on Facebook, New Era posted the entire lineup of all the designs come to life.

I figure that you can all go and click the links to see where your favorite team ranks, but I wanted to showcase some of the teams I think really took advantage of this moment and the teams that whiffed. A few general notes: I love the breathable materials these hats are made out of. Athletic look that will probably soon be used in game day caps as well. The flat brim stays around but adding your own curve shouldn’t be hard if you’re not into that whole thing. Finally, I love that most of these hats have a different base-brim color. It gives them a far more informal feel that’s appropriate for Spring Training and Batting Practice.

Now, onto the hats!

The Best of the Best:

BrewersBPHatBrewers Alternate: 

I’ve always been a fan of bringing back the 70’s jerseys with a modern day fit. I think that the Brewers have one of the best retro logos, period. Thus, this hat is a marriage made in Hat Heaven. The blue backing and brim balances out that mustard yellow in the front and just screams retro like the San Diego powder blue jerseys. The only problem: this isn’t the primary Brewers hat. (More on that later.)

A'sBPHatOakland Athletics

Here’s another team that went with a throwback approach that I think was executed perfectly. This hat has an old school feel with the matching top and brim to compliment the modern darker green as opposed to the lime green Oakland was once fond of. The Athletic Elephant has a history that I don’t know about but looks cool, especially when your main logo is a letter. (Side note, that’s something this collection has done well: bring in the alternate logo that would normally be a jersey patch into a more primary position.)

PhilliesBPHatPhiladelphia Phillies

Much like the A’s above, the color scheme gives this hat an old school feel that works with a different logo. The Blue Phillies P is something I don’t recall seeing anywhere before, but it looks a lot cleaner this way as opposed to a blue hat with red brim to make the red “P” work. With the Yankees forgoing the right to be the Patriotic team, Philadelphia has all the right to attack the red, white and blue color palate. This hat does that perfectly.

Jury Is Still Out

MetsBPHatNew York Mets

Being a Syracuse student, I am very partial to the blue and orange color scheme that the Mets own (hence my excitement for this year’s All Star Game. Hello BP Jerseys!) so you would think that this would have made the cut for top jersey. No, my problem is with the Mr. Met logo. I love it. I think it’s great for the Mets to incorporate perhaps the second most recognizable Baseball Mascot into their uniform more. The problem I have is that his hat does not match the hat he’s on. Mr. Met has a nice blue rim on his hat, an accurate portrayal of the current mascot. What I don’t get that is in the past, he has had an orange brim so there’s no issue adding the brim in this instance. It’s a minor annoyance, but one that catches my eye every time I see the hat.

MarinersBPHatSeattle Mariners

Another team that gets props for using their logo on the hat instead of the “S” they usually use. This hat has a very 90’s feel to it, but that may be that I see this logo and immediately think of the Ken Griffey Jr. Like the Mr. Met hat above, I have a minor detail with the hat that bugs me: the top. The grey just seems out of place with no grey in the logo or brim. If the Mariners wanted to avoid an all black hat, they could have thrown in some teal instead of the out of place grey. Another concern: the look with the rest of the jersey. The original design in the uni watch link hat the cap as grey, here it’s very obviously black. The Mariners’ batting practice jersey looks like it’s just a shade of black off, and if that’s the case, the hat and jersey will look like a blavy clash that anyone knows is just not ok.

Tampa Bay Rays TBBPHat

When I say the Tampa Bay “throwback” jersey on TV for the first time, it was love at first sight. Ok, admittedly they need some retooling as they have their..flaws. But I think we can all agree it’s a much better throwback direction than an actual throwback. To the current hat, I was really pleased that Tampa opted to stay with the throwback color scheme over some variation of teal and white. The hat will work really well the existing jersey, my problem is with the “sunrise/sunburst” logo. I get that some people like it, I’m of the opposite opinion. There’s no way I could look at that and think Tampa Bay and the Rays are experimenting with this logo more and more. Over time, maybe I’ll be persuaded to grow fonder of the logo. As of now, not a fan.

Back the Sketch Pad

STLBPHat St. Louis Cardinals 

The Cardinals were one of the few teams that kept their primary logo as their BP hat logo. They had no reason to do otherwise as they have one of the most recognizable logos in sports. The problem is that, as evidenced by this hat, it does not stand out that much when you don’t use a color that makes the Cardinal red pop. Here, the Cardinals went with the ever popular black base. Problem is that the black really eats up the primary logo. This makes the hat look more like one of the variants New Era does for non-baseball fans. The Cardinals could have gone with the navy base they already employ or brought in the actual Cardinal logo to stand out against the black more.

Milwaukee Brewers PrimaryBrewersBPHatBad

Remember all of the good things I wrote about the alternate Brewers cap about 1000 words ago? Throw all of that out here. This hat reeks of laziness in the design. The barley logo is not one I dislike at all, but the beer reference is much more prominent than in their throwback. Why would you then make the primary hat look like a stereotypical beer hat that everyone has stained and thrown in back of their closets? I mean, it makes sense for the team named after beer to have a…well…beer hat. My problem is that it just looks plain, boring and the this will be worn more than the beautiful alternate hat. Disgraceful.

BravesBPHatAtlanta Braves Redesign

The story behind the Braves hat is more or less why I rank it at the bottom. The Braves initial design had a throwback logo featuring what has been delicately named “The Screaming Savage.” This logo sparked a lot of outrage from Native American groups who thought the Braves had moved on from this and thus, the Braves were forced to change their hat on the fly. The current hat design is the result of having to play the redesign conservatively when the Braves had so many other options. Why not bring back the light blue and old fashioned lowercase “a” for the throwback feel? If they wanted more of a homage to their nickname, why not use the A with Tomahawk or just plain Tomahawk? It was a butchered effort and the worst of all the new hats.

So what do you guys think? Did I leave one off? Tell us in the comments, on Twitter or Facebook!

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