MLB replica caps were scarce when I was a kid in the 60’s. They weren’t mass-produced as they are today. I’ll have to comb through the hundreds of slides my father took to find the earliest evidence I can of my wearing a ballcap. I’m guessing I probably had a small-billed cap with a “little league” (pun on small) kiddie outfit when I was a toddler. At one point I had a “wishbone C” Indians’ cap when I was in grade school, but I can’t remember how I came by it.
I do, however, distinctly remember getting my first “real” baseball cap. It was handed down to me by Butch Lowrie, a neighbor and the father of my friend Bobby Lowrie, who lived down the street from us. Mr. Lowrie worked at the Cleveland Press and played on the company baseball team. He gave me one of his Press baseball caps, which quickly became one of my most treasured possessions.
It was the real deal: a fitted wool cap with a leather sweat band. The cap was black with a red block “P” on the front, similar to a Pittsburgh Pirates cap.
I wore the cap everywhere, all day long, so much so that I can remember adults and other kids warning me that if I kept wearing it, I’d go bald. (I did not.)
That cap presaged two of the great loves of my life: baseball and newspapers. I carried the Press for several years in my neighborhood, and I eventually would make newspapers a career. The industry is in lamentable straits today, and I see many troubling signs reminiscent of the last years of the Press. It gamely tried to innovate and then merely to survive before succumbing to The Plain Dealer and the reality of late 20th Century journalism, which pitilessly decreed that only one newspaper could survive in a market.
This 21st Century will likely determine whether any newspaper can survive in any town.