Fresh for '10, new BP caps on sale

Fresh for '10, new BP caps on sale

The first pitchers and catchers report in less than a month to Arizona and Florida for Spring Training, and Major League Baseball fans are just now getting their first chance to see and buy the new-look baseball caps from New Era that players will wear throughout all exhibition games, and then for every batting-practice session through the 2010 World Series.

Jay Stancil is a Cubs fan in Corbin, Ky., who was just one of many people talking about the subject on Tuesday. He said he is eager to wear exactly the same Authentic BP Cap as his favorite players Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Theriot.

"I love the BP hats because they're fresh and different," said Stancil, 38, the sports information director of Union College. "I always look forward to when a new line of BP hats come out because it's interesting to see the design of the hat, like with the piping around the front of the hat and on the bill as well as what logo is used for each team. My favorite team is the Cubs, and I love the white 'C' on the hat mainly because you don't see that anywhere else on Cubbie merchandise. However, I must admit the Astros' new BP hat is the best -- love that logo."

All of those new Authentic BP Caps are now available at the MLB.com Shop, priced at $26.99 apiece. The 2007 rollout of New Era authentic hats was a milestone in the evolution of baseball uniforms, featuring a practical upgrade in moisture management and overall performance enhancement. Now comes an updated design for those stretch-fit BP caps, removing that familiar swoosh gusset from over the ears and featuring distinctive new coloring and piping.

"The new BP caps continue to be a combination of great style and great performance," said Gerry Matos, New Era senior vice president of marketing. "This year's cap moves the dazzle fabric gusset from the prior BP cap to the rear, which serves to better highlight the MLB silhouette batter logo. And we've added piping as an accenting visor treatment.

"Overall, we think it's a great looking cap that will appeal to an even broader audience than the prior version."

Matos said orders already have exceeded 2009 and could surpass those of the '07 line launch. The BP caps were among the hottest items at the MLB.com Shop on a consistent basis in 2009, often selling out within an individual club's stock. These are the authentics that you see most often on players around the ballpark -- what they wear when you ask them for autographs in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues and during BP all summer.

The Shop features a few clubs that actually will have two new BP cap styles represented.

The Yankees have a home version that is solid navy with white pinstripe piping, and a road version that features two panels of the familiar gray from away uniforms.

The Rays have color-reverse styles. The home version is dark blue with sky-blue piping, and the road version is sky-blue with dark blue piping.

The Tigers' home version is navy with white logo and piping, and on the road version the white is replaced by orange.

"In addition to the look of the hat, I love the comfort and feel of the BP hats," Stancil said. "The flexible fit gives you the look of a fitted hat but is much more comfortable and not as tough and rigid like an authentic game hat. I used to always want to buy the authentic game hat as my hat of choice for my team, but I'd much, much rather have and wear the BP hat.

"Another thing I love about the BP hat is that players wear them mainly just in Spring Training and during BP, making it more of a special hat, yet a more relaxed hat that the players wear. It's like the players are saying, 'This is the hat we wear when we're not playing the game.' Not that they actually do or would, but still, the BP hat seems the cooler of the on-the-field hats."

A fan named Lauren at @BravesLove on Twitter said in a tweet: "Ooooh, look at the new Braves BP cap -- no more weird red ear flaps! I love this one!"

Maybe the most distinctive new look is that of Cleveland's new BP cap. It has a simple red C on the front, in place of the Chief Wahoo logo.

The Authentic 59FIFTY on-field caps from New Era will be unchanged and as always are available at the MLB.com Shop as well. Many fans like their own collection of team authentic caps to look just like the player's locker -- a 59FIFTY and a 39THIRTY (BP cap).

The MLB.com Shop also features a supply of those unique DownFlap Caps for those still battling the winter elements. Those feature the flaps that pull down over the ears, as seen in recent postseasons. Invariably, fans see players like B.J. Upton or Robinson Cano wearing those around the dugout in October and then e-mail asking where they can find them. The MLB.com Shop is where you can find them.

Buffalo-based New Era is the longtime official on-field cap manufacturer for Major League Baseball. The company also just announced it has forged a new youth baseball alliance with the PONY League for which it is now the official cap of the organization, which includes 500,000 players. This adds to New Era's other grassroots baseball ties, which include Little League and the National Youth Baseball Championships, which it title sponsors.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.