MLB unveils new Stars & Stripes caps

MLB unveils new Stars & Stripes caps

MLB unveils new Stars & Stripes caps
It is now an annual fashion statement in Major League Baseball, and to returning U.S. military members and their families, it represents much more.

MLB on Tuesday unveiled this year's Stars & Stripes caps, which will be worn by all clubs on Memorial Day (May 30) and Independence Day weekend. For the fourth year running, they will be part of MLB's national fundraising and awareness initiatives for Welcome Back Veterans, a program that addresses the needs of returning American veterans and their families.

Welcome Back Veterans is an MLB Charities initiative in partnership with the McCormick Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, supported by MLB Advanced Media and MLB Network. With the backing of MLB and its clubs, Welcome Back Veterans since 2008 has awarded more than $10 million in grants to 30 non-profit agencies across the country targeting veterans' greatest needs, including mental health and job training/placement.

The Stars & Stripes caps were blue in 2008, red in 2009 and white last season. What happens when you run out of colors in the U.S. flag? No problem. The caps will continue to have the American flag etched into the team's logo and will have a modified design, with off-white fronts and blue or red brims and back panels. For Canadians, the Blue Jays cap again will incorporate a Maple Leaf design instead of the Stars & Stripes.

These MLB Authentic Collection caps from New Era are available for sale right now at the Shop. and MLB Properties will donate all net proceeds it receives from the sales of the caps to Welcome Back Veterans.

"As a social institution, Major League Baseball considers it a privilege to assist our troops in any way possible," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "We are proud to help Welcome Back Veterans provide funding to such worthy institutions helping our troops, and we ask our fans to join us on Memorial Day and beyond in this effort to raise awareness."

"Helping our troops is a cause very close to my heart, and I'm glad to see Major League Baseball will once again pledge their support on Memorial Day and beyond," said Giants pitcher Barry Zito, founder of Strikeouts For Troops. "I'll wear my Stars & Stripes cap proudly that day, and I encourage all my fellow players to get involved, give back to those who give so much and show these brave men and women how much we care about them."

In addition, New Era has created a commemorative one-of-a-kind Bourget Python motorcycle dubbed the "MLB Stars & Stripes" as part of the Stars & Stripes program. The baseball-themed bike will make public appearances in several major cities and at key events this season.

"We teamed up with Bourget's Bike Works and Diamond Custom Cycles because they're brands that share New Era's passion for craftsmanship and authenticity," New Era CEO Christopher Koch said. "This chopper embodies a message of patriotism and gives our organizations, players and fans a chance to salute the brave men and women that serve our country."

The bike tour will visit cities including Atlanta, New York, Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Phoenix and Los Angeles as well as in Phoenix for events surrounding the 82nd All-Star Game on July 12. At each stop, fans will have an opportunity to take photos with the bike.

On 11/11/11, Veteran's Day, the grand finale of the campaign concludes with a live telethon, during which the bike will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Welcome Back Veterans.

During the 2010 World Series, MLB for the second year running dedicated an individual game to the theme of Welcome Back Veterans. That was Game 4 at Texas, a global platform for its major initiative to help with awareness. MLB and military brass, along with many former Rangers players, visited V.A. North Texas Health Care System the day of that game, and former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

"What we all have to do is work really hard at coming up with innovative ways to reintegrate service members and their families back into society," said John Campbell, deputy undersecretary of defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy. "That isn't easy when 99 percent of the population -- although they feel very strongly about the service members, very supportive -- are not involved. So it's up to us to really create that level of understanding."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of You also can comment on his community MLBlog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.