From the archives Shopping From the Past

Archival Lament: Cooperstown Ball Cap Co.

Cooperstown Ball Cap Co. print catalog covers (1994, 1999)

Sometimes I get so fixated on the past that I forget to mail order from the present. A quick web check on one of my favorite contemporary brands, Cooperstown Ball Cap Co., produced this depressing news:

Regrettably, after twenty-three years of making fine historic replica ball caps, Cooperstown Ball Cap Company has discontinued operations. Commercial, financial and legal difficulties; and the complexity of sewing one-of-a-kind caps in the U.S, make this decision inevitable. We thank all our customers for whom, over the years, we have been pleased to make a true vintage ball cap.

For reference, Cooperstown Ball Cap Co. manufactured custom caps for historical teams and individuals. One could order a cap in any historical style or in any combination of styles, logos or colors. The illustrated Cooperstown catalogs featured examples of nearly every known historical baseball team including company teams, military teams and even a hat from the Eastern Washington Hospital for the Mentally Insane. All caps were handmade from 13 oz. athletic flannel, horsehide leather bands and highest grade peak stiffeners. Whenever possible, caps were sewn on original machines in Cooperstown, NY.

Historical styles that influenced the modern baseball cap

For reference, I’m reprinting a few pages from two of my 1990s era catalogs. At some point, the company moved to an online ordering format. But I always loved the colorful illustrations, hand scripted captions, arcane keycode system and personal notations of these early catalogs.

Until the 1940s, caps lacked stiffening crowns. Most of the cap styles in the Cooperstown catalog were designed to be worn close to the head (a look I prefer to the current trend towards fully stiffened, high crown caps).
Choose your Brooklyn style cap: standard, pinstripe, peak band, cap band, 3 color braid or soutache?

Small sampling of minor league caps
Shopping from A League of Their Own
Each year, Cooperstown reissued newly discovered styles from lesser known or non-professional teams. These were special edition options from 1994.
A few special edition and “fictional” team caps including one for the New York Knights
International models (I always wanted a Yomoyuri Giants cap)
Regretting that I never mailed out my order for one of the cricket caps (see 1999 cover)
New discoveries for 1999
Caps could be ordered in any combination of colors or historical styles
Custom sizing options (I always requested a shallow crown w/a short cut)
Fine print

Branch Rickey, St. Louis AL [1913]

28 thoughts on “Archival Lament: Cooperstown Ball Cap Co.”

  1. I share your sadness at the loss of such an encyclopedic and historic resource. It is with great anticipation that I await the relaunch of a revised Cooperstown Ball Cap Co. in a few months. From what I understand, the closure was precipitated by an unresolved licensing negotiation with Major League Baseball, which will not impact the far more interesting amateur and other obscure designs.

  2. Lesli,

    Will and his team are still making caps (I just got notice that my six Seattle Crows caps shipped on Friday), but nothing from the major leagues as I understand it.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pguillam/3779045447/

    Last year he outfitter our whole sandlot team with 60 made to order lids, extending my collection which I started in 1991 while in Cooperstown. They make a remarkable product, and I hope they can get back to doing what they do.

    Frank

  3. In the mean time, are you familiar with Ebbets Field Flannels? Not as extensive as Cooperstown, or as customizable, but a quality product nonetheless.

  4. I just found out that there is an interim “secret” website where you can order caps – shadowcaps.info.
    The buttons weren’t working when I tried to place an order, but I let Will know, hopefully it will be fixed soon.

  5. try – shadowcap.info. The site is still under some construction. It’s a shame that MLB is such a crap organization that it can’t allow competition among the vendors.

    I have a number of Cooperstown caps they were the best quality, not always accurate, but they did fix them.

  6. The absolutely BEST caps made on the planet. I’ve bought from Cooperstown Ball Cap Co. since the early 1990s and have never been disappointed. You cannot get another ball cap like this at any price, and certainly not customized. Tremendous craftsmanship, plenty of questions wherever I wear them, and they last a lifetime.

  7. Wow thanks for the shadow cap site… not sure it’s working right, but at least it’s still going…

    I love my 47′ Pirate cap I bought last year… wish I bought a few more….

    I posted pics of it on my blog if anyone wants to see it.

  8. Has anyone had any success ordering via shadowcap.info or idealcapco.com? I’ve visited both sites and neither seem to be functional. If they’re not functioning, can someone put me in touch with Will?

  9. Here is my full email from Will

    Email: will@ballcap.com

    12/6/10

    Lesli,

    We are reforming as the Ideal Cap Co. (idealcapco.com) doing a much wider range of caps. Will keep most of the baseball styles of CoopBallCap with the exception of MLB styles. The process of setting up two new sewing facilities and organizing the website to contain so many different models is time-consuming. Will let you know when the launch is – probably about 3 months away. In the inerim we’re still custom making caps if you need something, only as above, no MLB.

    Thanks for your interest,

    Will/CoopballCap

  10. I religiously bought from Will and the CCBCC since I first saw the article in SI. My first purchase was the Philly cap he was wearing in the article. Since then, I must have bought 30 or so. Many wore out, many were given away. I still have a dozen or so, tow of which are still in mint condition: the Indianapolis ABCs and Eat Raisin Pie. I am trying to replace my 1904 PCL LA Angels cap. The one I have is still in great shape, but I’d love to get a new, or near new, 7 1/2. I also have the 1939 and 1947 caps. Can anybody help?

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