I wanted to let you know about a very special and exciting limited production ballcap collection I’ve been working on that we will be releasing at 10am PT on Friday, August 12th: The Mystery Caps of Mexico.
I first experienced baseball, Mexican-style, in the early 1990s when I befriended the dean of Mexican baseball writers, the late Tomas Morales (known as “Tommy al bat”) at the Winter Meetings.
I later visited Tommy in Mexico City and got to join him for Opening Day. Mexico City had two teams at the time – the Diablos Rojos (Red Devils) and Tigres (Tigers) and attending the season opener when those clubs faced each other at Parque Seguridad Social was an event like no other. The fans of the two teams were split into different halves of the ballpark. Brass bands played in the stands, cheerleaders performed on top of the dugouts. Outside the park, indigenous women made blue corn tortillas. Although baseball has been eclipsed by soccer in Mexico in recent decades, our southern neighbor has its own rich history, which is interwoven with that of the U.S.
The two things that most serious American students of baseball history know about Mexican baseball are that American Negro Leaguers thrived south of the border when they were still deprived of the right to play at the highest level in their home country. The other historically significant note is that in the 1940s, Mexican League president Jorge Pascual started a “war” with Major League Baseball when he lured several major leaguers to Mexico with offers of big contracts at a time when the reserve clause bound players to their respective teams and artificially suppressed salaries. (The story of the baseball “war” is fascinating and worthy of its own post.)
Recently I discovered a large archive of very high-quality digital images of Mexican baseball teams and players – most from the Mexico City area – taken between roughly 1915 and 1940 (the Mexican League was first organized in 1925). The photos feature not just professional Mexican teams, but many company squads, as well as teams representing police and military groups. A surprising number of African American players are in the images. Unfortunately, the photos are not very well captioned, often not even identifying the team depicted, and only giving an approximate date range.
Many of the uniforms of these early teams are quite extraordinary – even bizarre in some cases. We decided to do a limited production collection of caps from some of our favorite teams. By cross-referencing the photos with other research, we were able to identify most of the teams, however there are still a few we are unsure of – hence the “mystery.”
Frankly, this has been the most difficult research nut to crack we have ever faced. We even sent the photos of some of the unknown teams to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame and to baseball historians (alas, my friend Tommy passed away a few years ago) and came up empty. In the case of two of the caps, we made educated guesses regarding who the teams could be, and held contests to see if one of our customers could discover the team. So far one has been discovered, and the other is still unknown (we'll update the blog if someone solves that mystery).
Like our Negro Leagues Collection from a few years ago, these caps will be offered in a limited-production release, with only 50 per team. Each cap is hand numbered and features a special gold label, gold satin undervisor and taping, and comes with a Mexico baseball hat pin. Our first Collection consists of six historic caps, with more to follow in the coming months.
We’ve always been proud at Ebbets to bring you not just the most historically significant baseball apparel, but also the most unusual and fascinating. The Mystery Caps of Mexico collection is in that tradition, and we are pleased to share it with you.
Founder, Ebbets Field Flannels