The Best Baseball Caps in MLB… And the Worst

The baseball hat is a quintessential American look. It has a fascinating history found in the formative years of the exclusively American sport. The baseball cap was custom-made for players from the mid-to-late-1880s. It had a short brim and a soft cap. Air holes were added in the 1890s. In 1894, the first team insignia appeared on a baseball hat. Gradually, Major League Baseball perfected the modern look adding longer bills and a larger space for logos.
 
These days, it’s the perfect hat to shade the sun or remediate a bad hair day. Sports fans require no such reason for showing off their favorite team. Many avid fans collect, save, trade and display each new release. The baseball hat is iconic. But what else would we expect from a sport that is literally called our National Pastime?

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are MLB’s latest expansion team and their record is commendable (as long as you don’t count their first 10 years as a team). With a mascot that looks like a manna ray, it is no wonder the team leaves it off its lid.

 

The graceful creatures, while a must-see at the aquarium, make a peculiar logo. On the other hand, some home team initials can be just as awkward. TB is a terrible disease. The second abbreviation it brings to mind is Tampa Bay. Great colors, unfortunate logo.

Tampa Bay Rays

Quick Stats Owner: Stuart Sternberg American League Pennants: 1

 

East Division titles: 2  World Series titles: 0 Ballpark: Tropicana Field

Colorado Rockies

This 1993 expansion team is hit-and-miss at Coors Field, formerly Mile High Stadium. They have made it to the World Series one time, only to be swept by the Red Sox. But, here’s the deal, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are hardcore Rockies fans.

 

Another thing going for Colorado’s club is the team hat insignia. It makes a winning cap. Some aren’t too fond of purple, but it works.

Colorado Rockies

Quick Stats Owners: Charles and Richard Monfort National League Pennants: 1

 

West Division titles: 0 World Series titles: 0 Ballpark: Coors Field

Arizona Diamondbacks

Compared with a stingray, a diamondback rattlesnake is intimidating. The team has made good use of incorporating the serpent’s fierce fangs onto its cap graphics. But the fearsome image gets lost in the letter “A”.

 

They used to display a “D” on the hat with superimposed graphics, but, unfortunately, when the D-backs changed to an “A” fan merch was not any more desirable and sales dropped.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Quick Stats Owner: Ken Kendrick National League Pennants: 1

 

West Division titles: 5  World Series titles: 1 (2001) Ballpark: Chase Field

Milwaukee Brewers

After the team moved in 1969 (formerly the Seattle Pilots) and became the Milwaukee Brewers, an art history student won the logo contest. He created a glove and ball out of the letter “M” and it stayed that way until 1993.

 

The team’s smartest cap décor, the name written out and flanked by shafts of wheat cradling a ball, was found on Brewers hats from 2000 to 2017. When the team’s 50th anniversary came along, they decided to go back to the original classic glove and ball on the “M”. A little nostalgia goes a long way with fans.

Milwaukee Brewers

Quick Stats Owner: Mark Attanasio American League Pennants: 1 National League Pennants: 0

 

NL Central Division titles: 2 World Series titles: 0 Ballpark: Miller Park

Cincinnati Reds

A timeless design for a historic team. Way back in 1882 the Cincinnati Reds went with a wishbone-like elongated letter “C” on their cap and largely stuck with that for over 100 years. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

 

The Reds won the World Series in 1919 and in 1990. Since then, they’ve set different records. Like, in the 2016 season the team allowed more homeruns against them than any other team in MLB history. They held that title until 2019.

Cincinnati Reds

Quick Stats Owner: Bob Castellini National League Pennants: 9 AA Pennants (Historical division 1882-1892): 1

 

National League Central Division titles: 3  National League West Division titles: 7 World Series titles: 5 (1919, 1940, 1975, 1976 & 1990) Ballpark: Great American Ball Park

Texas Rangers

The Rangers have been around since 1972 and the solid letter “T” stamped on their cap has remained virtually the same. In 1994, a spur design feature half-way down the stem of the “T” was added.

 

Famously, George W. Bush owned the club from 1989 until he won the Governorship of Texas. But the team has little to write home about. Though they’ve taken quite a few divisional titles, the Rangers have never won a World Series.

Texas Rangers

Quick Stats Owner: Ray Davis and Bob Simpson American League Pennants: 2

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West Division titles: 7 World Series titles: 0 Ballpark: Globe Life Field

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays made a good decision when they went back to their original logo in 2012. Fans liked it and merch purchases increased. One of MLB’s most abysmal designs featured a cartoonish Blue Jay. These birds are aggressive and territorial, the revamped design pays homage.

 

The red maple leaf is also a popular component of the logo. For being, traditionally, one of the most underfunded MLB teams, the Jays have done pretty well. Two World Series, not bad.

Toronto Blue Jays

Quick Stats Owner: Rogers Communications American League Pennants: 2

 

East Division titles: 6  World Series titles: 2 (1992 & 1993) Ballpark: Sahlen Field

Kansas City Royals

The caps of the Kansas City Royals haven’t changed much in the team’s fifty years or so of MLB play. But very slight changes to the cap insignia in the 2000s bring about a daintier look as the leg of the “K” flows just perceptively more curvaceously into the “C”. No matter.

 

The team’s made it to the world series four times, most recently winning it in 2015. Winning colors and royalty branding give the Royals logo a solid look.

Kansas City Royals

Quick Stats Owner: John Sherman American League Pennants: 4

 

West Division titles: 6 Central Division titles: 1 World Series titles: 2 (1985 & 2015) Ballpark: Kauffman Stadium

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels started in Los Angeles with an “LA” cap, and now they’re back, sort of, at least by name. Their time as Orange County’s team dragged them through a Disney thing, and a very unflattering baseball hat to say the least. It was an “A” with a large, white wing mounted on its back.

Getty Images Photo by Otto Greule Jr

The original and now-standard “A” crossed by a halo was brought in after the move to Anaheim, and it’s the best. Fan merch attests. The Angels had a couple of great years, just enough to bring back wayward fans, but in general, as the rally monkey craze suggests, the team is consistently losing and trying to rally back.

Los Angeles Angels

Quick Stats Owner: Arte & Carole Moreno American League Pennants: 1

 

West Division titles: 9 World Series titles: 1 (2002) Ballpark: Angel Stadium

Cleveland Indians

The Indians have a couple of problems, starting with their racially insensitive logo cartoonishly representing the team name. And the “C” on the cap is plain and boring compared with the iconic Reds cap insignia. The cap was first introduced with a “C” but then went through many unfortunate iterations, the last being the cartoonish Indian logo.

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The team’s been around for a long time, setting up shop in 1928. For 40 years, they used the wishbone “C”, the first time in 1933. The Reds had already donned it in 1916. And, what? No trademark war?

Cleveland Indians

Quick Stats Owner: Larry Dolan American League Pennants: 6

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Central Division titles: 10 World Series titles: 2 (1920 & 1948) Ballpark: Progressive Field

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates have always worn a “P” insignia. The letter’s font varied greatly as the team has been around forever. The Bucs originated in 1876 as a minor league team and made it to MLB in 1882. It started out strong dominating in the late 1900s and again in the ’60s and ’70s when horizontal stripes were introduced to the hat.

 

In 2013 the Pirates passed a milestone becoming the seventh MLB team to win 10,000 games. Notable fan and rapper Wiz Khalifa ticked off the suits at MLB when he wore a “legalize it” shirt throwing out the first pitch in 2017.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Quick Stats Owner: Robert Nutting National League Pennants: 9

 

East Division titles: 9  World Series titles: 5 (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 & 1979) Ballpark: PNC Park

San Diego Padres

In 2020 the Padres launched their new hat design. Barely perceptible changes to the overlapping “S” and “D” from the previous decade make it just different enough to require fans to update their team gear. Previously, the 50-plus-year-old franchise tended to stay with “Padres” written out on their caps.

 

Honestly, the team has never been that great. But SD fans adore them. Just like they love everything else about their city.

San Diego Padres

Quick Stats Owner: Ron Fowler National League Pennants: 2

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West Division titles: 5 World Series titles: 0 Ballpark: Petco Park

Houston Astros

The Astros became World Series champions for the first time in 2017. The 1964 expansion team introduced Texas to MLB and was first called the Colt 45s, so their logo has altered drastically.

 

The early Astros insignia was a busy collaboration of the team name written out amongst outer space graphics. Yikes! Now it’s a stately “H” superimposed on a dignified orange star.

Houston Astros

Quick Stats Owner: Jim Crane American League Pennants: 2  National League Pennants: 1

 

AL West Division titles: 3 NL Central Division titles: 4 NL West Division titles: 2 World Series titles: 1 (2017) Ballpark: Minute Maid Park

Minnesota Twins

The signature “TC” insignia with a wishbone “C” wrapping around a tall “T” stands for Twin Cities, but the truth is the team started out in Washington, DC. They were the Nationals from 1936 to 1957 when they became the Senators.

 

Finally, in 1961, they moved to Minnesota and stayed there as the Twins. Minnesota fans are avid about sports, perhaps the remote location and hostile weather leave them nothing else to do. Either way, diehard fans who already own the latest cap design can now pick up a Minnesota Twins face mask!

Minnesota Twins

Quick Stats Owner: Stuart Sternberg American League Pennants: 6

 

West/Central Division titles: 11 World Series titles: 3 (1924, 1987 & 1991) Ballpark: Target Field

Washington Nationals

With the Nationals, DC finally got a permanent franchise, but it didn’t happen until 2005. They went by the Expos, a team out of Montreal, prior to that and were the eighth team to try to make it in DC.

 

The Nationals used to use a standard interlocking “DC” design to crown players, but now they don a magnificent cursive “W”. Led by 7-time All-Star Max Scherzer, the Nationals were World Series champions in 2019.

Washington Nationals

Quick Stats Owner: Mark Lemer National League Pennants: 1

 

East Division titles: 5  World Series titles: 1 (2019) Ballpark: Nationals Park

Baltimore Orioles

The cartoonish bird design has served as a successful logo for the Baltimore Orioles. The early caps featured a realistic oriole, but in 1966 fans’ most beloved cap logo, also known as the Happy Bird, was introduced and they never went back. Sales exploded in the retail market.

 

The team dominated the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. But from 1998 to 2011, they went through a dry spell, 14 years without a winning season. The Orioles originated as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1877 and finally landed in Baltimore in 1958.

Baltimore Orioles

Quick Stats Owner: Peter Angelos American League Pennants: 7

 

East Division titles: 9 World Series titles: 3 (1966, 1970 & 1983) Ballpark: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Seattle Mariners

Seattle had been wanting its own team. Finally, on April 6, 1977, the opening game played in the brand-new Kingdom to a sold-out crowd turned out to be predictive. The Mariners were shut out by the Angels, of all teams. It didn’t get much better.

 

Their record now includes an unwanted title; the only MLB team that has never even made it to the World Series. But their team hat with a prominent “S” and a subtle mariner’s compass sure does look like the winning touch.

Seattle Mariners

Quick Stats Owner: John Stanton  American League Pennants: 0

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West Division titles: 3 World Series titles: 0 Ballpark: T-Mobile Park

New York Mets

Comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, and Jimmy Kimmel are all avowed Mets fans, never failing to mention the team on their perspective shows. Does it make you wonder? Is the team from Queens some kind of joke? Kind of. But its cap is one of the coolest. Royal blue with orange curly letters. Yes!

 

When the Brooklyn Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1962 and the New York Giants relocated to San Francisco in 1958, the Metropolitan Baseball Club stepped in to fill the void for the National League. To pay homage, they combined Dodger blue with orange from the Giants as team colors. (The Yankees were already established, representing the American League.)

New York Mets

Quick Stats Owner: Fred Wilpon National League Pennants: 5

Getty Images Photo by Jason Miller

East Division titles: 6 World Series titles: 2 (1969 & 1986) Ballpark: Citi Field

Philadelphia Phillies

When the Phillies started playing, players did not even wear hats yet! In 1883, playing ball under a name randomly pulled from a hat, the historic Phillies launched as one of the original “Classic Eight” National League teams. They would be bareheaded until 1900. The insignia originated with a “P” and stayed that way. However, many drastically different fonts have been featured through the years.

 

The 1970 rounded, bubble letter version was nothing short of iconic. The nearly 140-year-old franchise has only taken the World Series title two times, in 1980 and 2008. But it has won a slew of playoff titles. Having said that, it took them until 1915 to get a pennant.

Philadelphia Phillies

Quick Stats Owner: John S. Middleton National League Pennants: 7

 

East Division titles: 11 World Series titles: 2 (1980 & 2008) Ballpark: Citizens Bank Park

Chicago White Sox

Coming to the league in 1901, the team went by the Chicago White Stockings. In short order, they became known as the White Sox. Their hat, with the stacked letters piling the “S” on top and diagonally spelling out “Sox” is a rapper’s fav.

 

The iconic logo became part of rap culture with Dr. Dre, NWA and Ice Cube, amongst others, flaunting it. But it wasn’t always that way. The stacked letters didn’t come around until 1991. In 1912, the first hat insignia featured a large “S” with design elements obscurely spelling the name. In 1976, bold graphics pictured the name clearly written with a batter.

Chicago White Sox

Quick Stats Owner: Stuart Sternberg American League Pennants: 6

 

Central Division titles: 3 World Series titles: 3 (1906, 1917 & 2005) Ballpark: Guaranteed Rate Field

Oakland Athletics

Since 1968, the A’s have been represented by the Old English emblem, “A’s”. It’s a strong logo that is easily associated with the Oakland, California team, and another favorite of rap artists. But, without help from the city, the team may have to leave.

 

It would not be so tragic if Oakland had not already lost the Raiders and the Warriors. And the A’s have had a stellar record. They won the World Series nine times. Since 2014, however, the team has failed to place.

Oakland Athletics

Quick Stats Owner: John J. Fisher American League Pennants: 15

Getty Images Photo by Jason O. Watson

West Division titles: 16 World Series titles: 9 (1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1930, 1972-1974 & 1989) Ballpark: Oakland Coliseum

Atlanta Braves

Once again, this team’s cap has found its way into hip hop culture. The team predates the National League and is the oldest continuously running franchise in MLB. The hat design first featured a “B” but landed on the “A” by the late ’60s.

 

Their logo has not been without controversy with a Native American cartoonish depiction of a Brave and the tomahawk imagery. The team has been one of baseball’s most successful teams, especially from 1991 to 2005 when they won division titles 14 consecutive times, an unmatched feat.

Atlanta Braves

Quick Stats Owner: Liberty Media National League Pennants: 17

 

East Division titles: 14 World Series titles: 3 (1914, 1957 & 1995) Ballpark: Truist Park

Detroit Tigers

Okay, so rappers like baseball caps. The Detroit Tigers franchise even paired up with Eminem in 2018 offering a limited-edition jersey featuring the rappers real name. The Tigers were one of the American League’s original teams back in 1894 and the first club to apply a logo to the cap.

 

The team has a winning record, overall, and they’ve captured the World Series title four times. It’s most winning year was 1934. In 2019, however, the team finished the season last with the worst MLB record, 47 wins and 114 losses.

Detroit Tigers

Quick Stats Owner: Ilitch Family Trust American League Pennants: 11

 

East/Central Division titles: 7 World Series titles: 4 (1935, 1945, 1968 & 1984) Ballpark: Comerica Park

San Francisco Giants

We already know the Giants left New York in 1958 and moved to the fabulous Candlestick Park. Since then their hat design has not changed much. The interlocking “S” and “F” in bright orange against a dark background make a strong and well-loved presence.

 

The team boasts two of the best players in baseball. Willie Mays and Barry Bonds both wore the Giants uniform. Yet, since the move to the Bay Area, the Giants suffered a 56-year drought without winning a single championship. From 2012 to 2014, on the other hand, they made history winning three World Series. In all, they’ve held eight titles.

San Francisco Giants

Quick Stats Owner: San Francisco Baseball Associates LLC National League Pennants: 23

 

West Division titles: 8 World Series titles: 8 (1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1954, 2010, 2012 & 2014) Ballpark: Oracle Park

Los Angeles Dodgers

When the Brooklyn Dodgers moved West, their cap design changed for the last time. The interlocking “LA” that represents their city almost as unequivocally as the Yankees world-recognized “NY” does have not changed in 50 years. The Dodgers are legendary. With Jackie Robinson and fellow negro league player Roy Campanella, the Brooklyn Dodgers snagged their first World Series championship in 1955.

 

In all, they’ve won it five times in Los Angeles and once in Brooklyn. Sandy Koufax and Fernando Valenzuela are two great Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers. Perhaps just as well-recognized was Vin Scully’s play-by-play commentary, as for 67 years, he was the voice of the Dodgers.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Quick Stats Owner: Guggenheim Baseball Management National League Pennants: 23 AA Pennants (Historical division): 1

 

West Division titles: 18 World Series titles: 6 (1955, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 & 1988) Ballpark: Dodger Stadium

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals were called the Brown Stockings until a local sports reporter gave them the nickname “Cardinals” in 1899 referring to the new team color. But it wasn’t until the ’20s that the bird was introduced.

 

The bird gradually acquired an angrier and more aggressive look; however, the evolving logo was reserved for uniforms. The hat insignia, historically, has been a layered “St” and “L” and it remains that way today. It’s a classic look and fans love it. The powerhouse holds 11 World Series titles but lately, not so much.

St. Louis Cardinals

Quick Stats Owner: William DeWitt Jr. AA Pennants (Historical division): 4 National League Pennants: 19

 

Central Division titles: 4 World Series titles: 11 (1926, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982, 2006 & 2011) Ballpark: Busch Memorial Stadium

Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are popular with celebs. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are avowed Red Sox fans, as well as Robert Redford and Stephen King. Fenway Park is an American relic. Plus, the Red Sox drafted Babe Ruth in 1915.

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Inexplicably, they sent him off to the Yankees, even after breaking the homerun record in 1919, smacking 29 out of the park. A regrettable trade for the Sox. Yet the cap is one of the best. The distinctively designed “B” originated with the Red Sox and it has not significantly varied since its inception in 1936.

Boston Red Sox

Quick Stats Owner: Fenway Sports Group American League Pennants: 14

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East Division titles: 10 World Series titles: 9 (1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, 2007, 2013 & 2018) Ballpark: Fenway Park

New York Yankees

The ubiquitous Yankees hat insignia goes way back. Designed in 1877 by Tiffany & Co’s Louis Tiffany for a NYPD Medal of Valor, it has not changed at all. An almost exact replica of the officer’s medal depicting the interlocking “NY” first appeared on the New York Yankees cap in 1913. And what a team! Going back to when they brought the Babe on board in 1920, the Yanks have 27 World Series wins. No other team comes close.

Getty Images Photo by Jason O. Watson

The Yankees won their first championship in 1923 and the most recent in 2009. A laundry list of famous players like Lou Gehrig, Doe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford fills their roster. Rivalry with the Red Sox is legendary, dating back, no doubt, to the Babe trade.

New York Yankees

Quick Stats Owner: Yankee Global Enterprises, Hal Steinbrenner chairman American League Pennants: 40

 

East Division titles: 19 World Series titles: 27 (1923, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1950-1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1977, 1978, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 & 2009) Ballpark: Yankee Stadium