Wisconsin Badgers throwback cap

College football season kicks off Saturday, and to celebrate the annual rites of fall I present this late 1970s banded mesh-back cap. In the late 70s and early 1980s, this was the predominant college cap style.

In fact, I’m hard pressed to remember any college caps from that era that didn’t look like this one. As a graduate student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, I had a Warriors cap in yellow and white. I picked up this red and white beauty on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison in 1979.

My girlfriend and I drove over to Camp Randall stadium on a Saturday to watch the Badgers play Indiana. Becky (now my wife of 28 years) took this picture before the game, and I got photos of her wearing a Wisconsin cowboy hat and Badger mittens.

The game was a snoozer — a 6-0 Wisconsin victory — and most of the action was in the stands. This was the “Mad City” era of the Portage Plumber and the Pail & Shovel Party, the guys in student government who wanted to replace the parking meters on campus with bubble gum machines. The student section of the stands was big on “body passing,” a sort of movable mosh pit where students were hoisted on the upraised arms of others and passed up or down row after row.

UW Athletic Director Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch had recently banned the activity, and the ushers were quick to squelch any attempt. At one point, the message crawler on the scoreboard said, “Elroy thanks you … for not doing … you know what.”

I absolutely loved this hat. I kept wearing it for years, even when the plastic insert in the brim had cracked into a hundred pieces. I can’t remember in what closet purge I reluctantly tossed the hat out. If I had it today, I’d tip it to Bucky and the Badgers.

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