If you take a passing glance at this photo from the summer of ’75, all appears to be in order. The sun is shining down on Dick Bartell Field at Lincoln Park. No traffic jam on Fernside Drive. David Hardern of Longfellow has executed a banana turn rounding second on his way to third. Lincoln shortstop Kenny Arnerich is ready to take the incoming throw from right center field. Aah, yes, a beautiful day for baseball… oh, oh… wait just a minute!
Hardern is wearing a fake baseball cap!! The kind with synthetic mesh and an adjustable plastic strap in the back. What was he thinking? You know he wasn’t a catcher, because as you may recall, if you wore one of these el-cheapo caps backwards under the mask, you had an indentation in your forehead that lasted a week. Not to mention a wild tan line that stayed with you well into December.
To be fair, it wasn’t David’s fault that these two tone abominations became the rage in the mid-1970’s. Up until then, a Roman Pro or New Era 8-stitch wool cap was the sign of a true diamond devotee. Those were Cadillac of dome covers. And they weren’t cheap. You had to save up $5.00 for a generic blue, black, red or green model. $7.00 for one of the embroidered pro team caps. That was a lot of empty bottle returns to George’s Liquors or the New Island Market. “Hmm, 140 packs of baseball cards or a pro cap?” That was the dilemma facing a kid back in the days before somebody decided to add plastic to a one hundred year-old tradition.
And speaking of tradition… who came up with the idea of wearing pajama bottoms for baseball pants??? Don’t get me started!