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Fashion or fandom? Blue Jays fans wear the iconic Yankees cap

Fashion or fandom?  Blue Jays fans wear the iconic Yankees cap


Lesley Mak has been a lifelong supporter of the Toronto Blue Jays and has always been very vocal about her fandom.

She attends games at the Rogers Center, organizes meetings with other fans across the city and even had a cardboard cutout of herself placed in the stands when the Jays played elsewhere during the pandemic.

But the easiest way for Mak to authentically express his fandom is to wear a baseball cap.

While every MLB team had a single hat design decades ago, today there are almost too many to choose from. Local stores such as Styll, Anthem and Peace Collective carry Jays hats in all colors, styles and fits.

“I have a big head, so most hats never fit me,” says Mak. “But I tried on a fitted hat in 2015 at the team store, found my size, bought this Jays hat with a pixel logo and fell in love with it.”

A small sample of Lesley Mak's collection of baseball caps at Dovercourt Park.

She now has more than 35 Jays hats. For Mak and many others, however, the sports fandom is expressed not only through what they wear, but also what they actively choose not to wear.

For many Jays fans, the iconic New York Yankees cap tops the list.

Since the Jays won it all in 1993, the Yankees have won the World Series five times. And while the Bronx Bombers are in the midst of a decade-plus championship drought (the last was in 2009), they remain North America’s winningest professional sports franchise with 27 Series titles. world, drawing the scorn of baseball fans everywhere – Toronto included.

That’s why the fan base celebrated Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s comments earlier this season when he reiterated his hatred for the Yankees, saying he would never play for the franchise. It’s also why many city fans can’t stand the idea of ​​wearing the Yankees logo, despite it being one of the most popular symbols in sports.

“I just want to wear a hat from the team I’m cheering on,” Mak said.

And yet, it’s impossible to walk two blocks in Toronto in the summer without noticing someone wearing a Yankees cap. One who wears it regularly is Mak’s close friend Cristina Costa, who doesn’t follow the Jays that closely.

A few years ago, Costa was working in downtown Toronto when she met Meghan Markle while the Duchess of Sussex was starring in the TV legal drama “Suits,” which was filmed in Toronto.

“She was walking down the street in these big sunglasses and a Yankees hat and looked so effortlessly cool,” Costa recalled.

After the game, she decided to buy herself a Yankees cap. It remains the only one that Costa wears regularly.

Friends Cristina Costa, left, and Lesley Mak have differing views on what the iconic Yankees cap represents.

“I don’t think of baseball when I look at the hat,” she said. “I’m not even thinking of New York. It’s just a cool logo.

The origin story of the Yankees logo, which is popular around the world, dates back to 1877 when it was created by Tiffany & Co. The navy blue cap with the white “NY” insignia is worn by the Yankees since 1922.

Chris Creamer, founder of SportsLogo.neta Canadian site that studies the subject, claims that the Yankees cap has become iconic for several reasons.

“He says so much without saying much. It’s simple. It’s two-tone,” he says. “There is a story attached to it. There is success attached to it. It doesn’t hurt to have the same logo on 27 championships. Generations and generations of baseball fans in New York have seen this logo. It’s the same logo worn by Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter.

But what separates it from all the other sports symbols is its crossover appeal in pop culture and fashion.

Todd Radom, a graphic designer from New York specializing in branding for franchises and professional sporting events, has traveled the world and seen people from Brazil to South Korea with Yankees caps on their heads.

“I can guarantee they have no idea who Alex Rodriguez is, or that Aaron Judge won MVP last year,” he laughs.

The hat’s appeal isn’t just about the success of the franchise, but about what the “NY” badge means to people and how they look at New York City with some prestige.

“As a Manhattan-born New Yorker, this city represents a multitude of things,” Radom says. “He represents capitalism and Wall Street. He represents street art and graffiti for a certain generation. Frank Sinatra said if you can do it here you can do it anywhere and I think that’s true. The Yankees logo takes on these multitudes of meanings for people around the world.

It also helped that the Yankees cap has been popularized by influential pop culture figures for decades.

Director Spike Lee frequently wore a fitted red Yankees cap in the 1990s. Rapper Jay-Z once claimed that he “made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can” on his single “Empire State of Mind”. It was also the focal point of a memorable scene in “Seinfeld”. Today, popular streetwear brands such as Supreme, Kith, and Aime Leon Dore make versions of the Yankees hat, which often sell out within minutes of release.

Josh Roter, co-owner of In Vintage We Trust on Queen St. W., is happy to wear a Yankees cap at his workplace.

Josh Roter, co-owner of In Vintage We Trust, an upscale vintage clothing store in Parkdale, has a practical reason for wearing the Yankees cap.

“I’m not a Yankees fan, but I’m into fashion,” he says. “If you ever get stuck on a cut and you’re like, ‘I don’t know where to go with this,’ you just wear a fitted Yankees cap with black or white sneakers and you’re good to go.”

That’s the conundrum faced by many Jays fans who recognize how stylish the Yankees cap is: where does fashion stand against fandom?

“Wearing a hat is a statement of allegiance to what’s featured on the hat,” says Yang-Yi Goh, a Jays fan who grew up in Toronto but lives in New York as an editor at GQ. “It just doesn’t make sense for me to walk around in a Yankee hat.”

Maddie Cholette is a Jays subscriber and says the decision is pretty straightforward.

“I’ve been a fan of the team since I was a kid and I’ve never worn a Yankees cap,” she said. “It’s a deliberate choice. I like the look of the hat, but I can’t wear it. It would look like a betrayal.

“It’s the evil empire,” says Tom Henry, local comedian and die-hard Jays fan. “It’s like wearing whoever’s hat the bad guys are in ‘Star Wars.’ When I see the Yankees cap, I think “Eat the rich”. The Yankees cap is objectively a good hat. But it’s like, objectively, the Kardashians are beautiful, but it says a lot about you if you’re dating a .

Toronto actor Ennis Esmer, who stars in the CTV comedy “Children Ruin Everything,” doesn’t buy into the Jays-Yankees rivalry, calling it “largely philosophical.” The teams have never met in the playoffs, while the Yankees and Red Sox, for comparison, have done so 24 times. But Esmer still can’t bear the idea of ​​wearing a logo for a New York-based team.

When Esmer started dating Amy Blaxland, a costume designer from Toronto, he wasn’t thrilled when she brought up the idea of ​​buying a Yankees cap. Blaxland had no problem with that.

“Before I went out with him, I didn’t understand why people played sports,” Blaxland says.

Esmer, a Jays fan dating back to the 1980s, introduced Blaxland to the game. Once she started following the Jays, her perspective changed. She remembers seeing José Bautista’s iconic bat flip in Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers and how a baseball team brought the city together.

“Anything that makes you feel good and makes you feel like you’re part of something is positive,” says Blaxland. “We crave community. It’s good to find community in places, even if it’s sports.

Blaxland adds that she now understands how a single baseball cap can evoke such feelings of disdain. What about that Yankees hat? It was permanently removed from her shopping list.

In the end, like many Jays fans, fandom won out over fashion.

Alex Wong is a Toronto-based freelance writer


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