Those Are Some Bad Hats, New Era

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

While researching last month’s feature on ugly spring training caps, I came upon an entirely different set of awful Major League Baseball hats, one worthy of its own post. Seemingly released in early 2020, the New Era “Big Boys Lil Player” series is aimed specifically at kids. The name of the collection is a clunky, contradictory mouthful, and things just get worse when it comes to the artwork. Here’s a quick appetizer:

A hat with a poorly drawn cartoon of Aaron Judge

Remarkably, this is actually not the most awful New Era cap featuring a cartoon Aaron Judge. It takes second place, behind this ghoulish monstrosity:

Another hat with a terribly drawn image of Aaron Judge, this one looking quite like a stereotypical zombie
I get the feeling somebody at New Era really doesn’t like Aaron Judge.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

But let’s return to the Big Boys Lil Player 9Fifty caps. If you try to locate these hats on New Era’s website, you’ll strike out. Their site offers what has to be the worst online search I’ve ever seen. It’s truly astounding in its awfulness. To give just one example, a search for “Votto” returns 18 hits: 1 “Rocket Power Otto” hat, along with 17 hats that have the word “cotton” in their names. Adding search terms, which ought to narrow the results, only compounds the folly. A search for “Joey Votto” gives 675 results, starting with a completely unrelated “Joey Logano” hat.

Instead, you’ll need to head to Macys.com to find the New Era Big Boys Lil Player 9FIFTY Snapback caps. It appears Macy’s is the exclusive retailer for this line aimed at kids, and what a coup that must be for them. On the Macy’s website, you can find 25 different New Era® Big Boys Lil Player 9FIFTY Snapback caps. Of course, there are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. The five teams missing from the New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player 9FIFTY Snapback cap series are:

  • Atlanta Braves

  • Baltimore Orioles

  • Chicago Cubs

  • Houston Astros

  • Toronto Blue Jays

Frankly, those clubs are the lucky ones, as they can simply be ignored. There are two additional hats show players who are no longer on the relevant team:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: Featuring Zack Greinke, who was traded to the Houston Astros in the middle of the 2019 season. The hat’s price has been cut more than 50% off, which is nice, but hardly enough.

  • Boston Red Sox: Featuring Mookie Betts, who was sadly traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers just last month. This one gets a pass, though it should also now get a steep discount.

The rest of the New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player® 9FIFTY Snapback caps can be seen in all its awfulness over at Macy’s, but here’s a further sampling:


Nolan Arenado, in cartoon form


Mike Trout, in cartoon form


Christian Yelich, in cartoon form

While some of the representations look vaguely like the named player, most really do not. In fact, even with the name stitched on the cap, the Cardinals “Paul Goldschmidt” hat is listed as being for Matt Carpenter, and no one has noticed or cared:

A hat that says Paul Goldschmidt, while the listing refers to Matt Carpenter

To be sure, those two men look not at all alike:

A hat that says Paul Goldschmidt, while the listing refers to Matt Carpenter
Paul Goldschmidt on the left; Matt Carpenter on the right

And yet, if one simply adds a beard to the cartoon rendering, it’s clear that it can work equally well for either of them:

A hat that says Paul Goldschmidt, while the listing refers to Matt Carpenter

My favorite cap of all is the offering for the Washington Nationals, which features Max Scherzer. Scherzer has heterochromia iridum, which means his eyes are two different colors. His left eye is brown, while his right eye is blue.


[Photo credit: MLB.com]

As you can see, heterochromia iridum is tremendously distinctive. They could have made the rendering on this hat incredibly obvious, just by including this very rare trait. Did they?

Swing and a miss!

Ultimately, the drawings on the New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player® 9FIFTY™ Snapback caps are just plain bad. For the most part, they don’t look like the players they’re supposedly modeled after, nor do they look very good at all. Worse still, they seem to be ripping off a lot of the style of Gen X favorite “Beavis and Butthead”:

Jacob deGrom next to Butthead
Jacob deGrom does not actually look like Butt-Head.

Macy’s has probably sold scores of terrible New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player® 9FIFTY™ Snapback® caps to well-meaning grandparents around the country. Perhaps Mike Judge should sue for royalties.


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