When it comes to sports-centered fashion statements, basketball sneakers are king.
New Era baseball caps, however, can't be far behind when it comes to ubiquity. The 59/50 caps are a part of everyday life, whether it's for someone supporting their local nine or someone looking to complete an outfit.
Because people wear the hats for a variety of reasons, I had always wondered what the top 10 best-selling caps list looked like. After all, this isn't like the best-selling NFL jersey list, which is largely dominated by success on the field. A different set of factors including colors, street influence and pop culture references can shoot a hat into the best-selling category.
Our friends over at Cardboard Connection recently obtained a list of the 10 best-selling New Era caps in 2011, which we confirmed with the company. Before we get to the top 10, a couple of thoughts about the teams that aren't listed.
• The most conspicuous absences are two classics: The Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers didn't make the top 10. While it's easy to figure why Cubs sales have sagged, the Tigers won a division title in 2011 and still have that Kid Rock/Eminem/Ty Cobb street cred. Maybe the addition of Prince Fielder will push them into the field next year?
• On-field success also didn't translate to bigger sales for the Texas Rangers or Milwaukee Brewers. I've never been a big fan of the Rangers "T," but you would have figured that two straight World Series trips and playing in such a populated market would've made a difference. As for the Crew, they keep drawing 3 million to Miller Park every year and it seems like everyone's wearing the old ball-and-glove cap each time I visit.
• We don't have access to the least-selling hats, but that would be an interesting list to view. I'd also be interested in knowing how team merchandisers view a spot at the bottom. Does that translate into uniform and logo changes?
OK, on to the 10 best-selling New Era hats for 2011:
10. St. Louis Cardinals: Did the late push toward the team's 11th World Series title also get them onto the list? It certainly couldn't have hurt, but the interlocking "StL" is always a classic as "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm exhibits here.
9. San Francisco Giants: The 2010 title made this hat a must-have item in the Bay Area. Wonder if they sold any that were bigger than Bruce Bochy's 8 1/4?
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8. Philadelphia Phillies: Maybe the most underrated "classic" hat out there. Multiple years of sellouts at Citizens Bank Park had to help.
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7. Pittsburgh Pirates: The first big surprise of the list, but not when you consider that there's a heavy gang influence when it comes to cap sales. Also — and this is just a theory — but guys like Phil and Pete probably move the needle a lot for the black and gold.
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6. Chicago White Sox: From Dr. Dre to the leader of the free world, the South Side has been widely repped over the last two decades. Makes you wonder if there's anything to the claim that the hat's subliminal "sex" message accounts for its popularity.
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5. Los Angeles Dodgers: Safe to say that Magic's presence is going to send this cap a few spots higher when the list comes out for 2012?
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4. Cincinnati Reds: Back in 2010, Complex Magazine claimed that the Dodgers and Reds were the two hottest caps when it came to gang member wear. They must have some staying power because here they are on the list, back to back.
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3. Boston Red Sox:Not sure if these sales numbers include pink hats, but never underestimate the buying power of a Nation.
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2. Atlanta Braves: By far the most surprising appearance on this list. Perhaps Jimmy Carter influenced a few sales, but wouldn't the Astros also be on this list if one-term presidents held so much sway. Let's chalk this up to fashion and the Asian Bloods.
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1. New York Yankees: The king stays the king. Hard to imagine anyone knocking this off.