Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates 40th Anniversary of the 1971 World Series

The 2011 Season quickly became a year to member in Pittsburgh due to the Pirates early success, but their mid-season drop-off continued to have fueled the fire for fan support in the Steel City. Not only were the Pirates relevent for the first time in nearly two decades, but the Pirates were also ready to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the World Series in which they beat the Baltimore Orioles in 7 games thus awarding Roberto Clemente his first and only World Series MVP award.

On June 21, 2011 the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles were matched up in Interleague play, this matchup created the perfect opportunity for the Pittsburgh Pirates to create a Turn Back The Clock uniform and New Era cap to commemorate their victorious winning of the 1971 World Series. The Pirates began the game with an opening ceremony which celebrated Hall of Fame Pirate Bill Mazeroski along with Pirates greats Bill Virdon, Gene Alley, Al Oliver, Bob Robertson, Dave Giusti, and Bruce Kison. The seven former players donned the throwbacks which the current players were wearing to celebrate their victory, and emerged from the dugout which allowed the fans of the past and the present to witness the winning history of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Upon seeing this cap the first time I really hated the way it looked, to me it looked extremely bland and boring and just plain ugly, but seeing it more and more made me appreciate it a lot more than that first impression. Giving the cap some real justice, this Pittsburgh Pirates throwback is stunning and the Gold crown with the black script and brim flow fantastic and the colour choices make it one of the most unique caps in the Major Leagues without going out of their way to be unique like the Marlins recently did. When I finally decided that I wanted this cap, I didn't exactly go out of my way to find it, but rather let it come to me through the process of going to the mall all of the time with my girlfriend, I knew eventually one of the Lids we went to would have my size in stock.

Outside of how cool it looks now, in 2012, the one concern of mine was how well does this cap match up to the original caps from 1971. Not being around in 1971 I wasn't able to really say one way or another, but searching the internet I was able to find some images that helped me to decipher this cap from the ones worn four decades ago. Right off of the bat I knew one inaccuracy was going to be apparent, and that's the use of the batterman logo on the rear of the cap, but New Era seemingly loves to place these on their Throwbacks, but I can't complain that they put it on there because they didn't try to hide it the asinine way they botched the 1980's Mariners Throwbacks.

While viewing a picture of the Pirates former manager Danny Murtaugh in the 1971 World Series, we can see that the underbrim is definitely green, but that was something to be expected when looking into caps earlier than the mid-1990's. Being that the rest of the On-Field Fitteds have black underbrims it was more economical for New Era to create the black underbrims for these, being that they would need to obtain the correct Kelly Green material to create the underbrims.

Pittsburgh Pirates starter Steve Blass has a little something to say about the crown colour of the cap though, but skipper Danny Murtaugh disagrees. Going beyond the base colour of the cap, the front logo can be considered to be inaccurate due to the embroidery being raised on this current cap, but did we honestly think that New Era would make the cam with flat embroidery? Based on the two pictures of the ballcaps, did the Pirates wear two different caps? I'm going to go ahead and call this miscue a possibility, but I would really like to know what the caps truly looked like since my baseball card collection doesn't span earlier than the early 1980's.

  • Use of Batterman Logo
  • Black Underbrim
  • Possible base colour inaccuracy

Going beyond the historical aspects of the cap I'm going to look into the quality of the current cap, the Pirates' “P” logo on the front is extremely sharp and is one of the freshest logos in the game, and the colour choices make it really stand out on the cap in the chosen Earth tones. The raised embroidery is done extremely well and matches up perfectly to the current On-Field Fitteds of the Pittsburgh Pirates' basic home cap, which leads me to suspect that New Era handled this as a Fashion Cap Custom as an On-Field Fitted. The fact that New Era didn't even bother to make the logo more accurate to the 1971 version shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, and this is because New Era's quality control doesn't exactly believe in accurate throwbacks and the original logo wasn't that far off of what it currently is today.

The batterman logo on the rear of the cap is an addition that was not on the original cap, but regardless of that the embroidery on the rear looks extremely sharp especially with the colour choice and the embroidery involved due to its cleanliness. The Batterman is accented with the team's current colours of Black and Yellow, but the fact that it is there in the first place would annoy any Pirates fan who wanted an accurate representation of the original Pirates cap. The fact that it is there doesn't bother me though, as I said before, New Era seemed to put more care and attention into this cap than they did the Turn Back The Clock 1980's Mariners cap, the use of blue stitching on the batterman to hide the logo is about as ridiculous as when they try to hide the New Era flag on the side of the Fashion Cap Customs.

This cap will quickly become one of my favourites and will go into my rotation immediately, and that's not something I would have ever suspected when I saw this cap on the shelf the first or even the fifth time I came upon it. The use of the Gold crown makes it extremely unique without being too flashy like the Marlins' Away cap or without being too dull like the Padres' Sunday caps.

Beautiful cap, if you find it, get it before it's gone.

1 comment:

  1. The Pirates wore different hats in the 1971 WS than the regular season. The WS hats were less yellow than the regular season ones. The one Murtaugh is wearing is the WS one, and the one Blass is wearing is the regular season one.