Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Era 1948 Throwback Cap Review

For the Brewers/Twins throwback game last month in Minneapolis, Majestic and New Era outfitted the teams in 1948-style uniforms. We're going to look at those uniforms over the next few days, specifically the retail versions, to see how well they recreated the period style.

First up, we have the Brewers' throwback caps manufactured by New Era and available on MLB's online store.

Blue cap, red bill & squatchee, white block "M". Simple and bold. It's a gorgeous look, obviously most commonly associated with the Milwaukee Braves but actually introduced by the Brewers as a nod to the similar cap worn by their parent club in Boston.

This cap was introduced in 1948, when the team's traditional sans-serif red letter was replace with a white block "M". With minor variations to the monogram, the style was worn through the Brewers' final game in 1952.

But how authentic is this 1948 throwback cap?

First of all, there are the concessions to modern construction and specifications. This cap was made in the United States of the relatively-new synthetic COOLERA fabric. It features a black underbrim and MLB "batterman" logo on the back. Obviously, neither of these elements would have been present on the originals, but I don't have a problem with including them here.

And no, I'm not going to keep that massive New Era sticker on the brim. That would be goofy. I present it here with the retail stickers intact, just as it came out of the box, to illustrate how these caps are sold.

So that's the construction of our 1948 reproduction. But how close the style of this cap comes to the originals is worth exploring in detail.

This photo of Brewer shortstop Johnny Logan, from the 1948 edition of Who's Who in the American Association, gives us an excellent look at the original period caps. With that in mind we can evaluate New Era's reproduction.

The first thing that jumps out to me is the color. The navy seems a little light.

It's a quirk of the manufacturing process that New Era only produces caps in a limited palette of colors. Red is red is red, be it the Cardinals or Reds or Angels, who all wear the exact same color cap, the same red as this brim. New Era does offer MLB teams a choice of two shades of navy blue, however. The Brewers wear the lighter navy, while teams like the Yankees sport a darker "midnight navy":

Our 1948 reproduction uses the same lighter navy the Brewers regularly wear. Comparing the colors of this cap to other red-and-blue capped teams, it's the same as the Indians, not the Braves:

I suspect the original Brewer cap in 1948 was closer to the Braves' midnight navy than the Indians' lighter shade. That would seem to be backed up by the vintage 1948 jersey in the museum's collection, a jersey trimmed in a blue so dark that the original auction catalog listed it as "black".

Even accounting for the age of this jersey, the Brewers' shade of blue at the time was clearly very dark. New Era's midnight navy would probably have been a better match.

Which brings us to the "M".

New Era has an ongoing problem with this logo, everywhere it appears. I don't know if the problem lies with the Cooperstown Collection style guide, or if it's just bad work on the manufacturers, but their "M" has never been right.

Look how squat their standard letter is (with the triangular crotch extending almost all the way down to the bottom) compared with the originals:

The letter should be significantly taller than it is wide, but for some reason in recent years we've seen nothing but squat, square "M"s on reproduction caps.

This modern style is especially incongruous when compared with the logo worn by the Brewers in 1948. Later seasons would see the exact same "M" made famous by the Milwaukee Braves, but in its first season, the letter was particularly narrow. Compare the square New Era monogram with this photo of catcher Walt Linden, also from the 1948 edition of Who's Who in the American Association.

So, on balance, how did New Era do? Their reproduction 1948 cap is good with all the broad strokes, but just misses on the details. Still, it's a fantastic design, and well worth picking up while you can.


  1. Picked one up as a fathers Day gift to myself! Love the cap, but they could've done better with recreating the "M". My '74-'77 Brewers road cap is same way. My issue is with the fit. My other size 7 1/4 fitted caps fit perfect, this one is loose. Is this cap identical to the Milw. Braves New Era cap?

  2. Saw JJ Watt sporting these new era hats on Hard Knocks last night...