The Evolution of MLB Hats: Pittsburgh Pirates
Considered cornerstones of the function-over-fashion movement in professional baseball, players in the 1800s would wear circular-brimmed straw hats on the field, like farmers. As the 20th century unfolded, early versions of today’s MLB hat were adopted and logos stitched onto the front. You can imagine the baseball diamond an expanse of tumbleweeds with straw hats blowing all over the field.
A portly, dovetailed capital “P” beamed the entrance for the Pittsburgh Pirates into Major League Baseball at the turn of the 20th century. The letter “P” has been used exclusively, with variations in font, color, and style refashioning the official hat insignia since 1900. Today’s brass-knuckled protrusion is a far cry from the soft features of the early logos, but its strength and recognition have carried it atop Pittsburgh’s official cap for over a half-century.
If you close your eyes, can you envision Barry Bonds in his rookie portrait? That proud Pirates “P” encircled in horizontal rings of gold? These are the hat logo designs that distinguish American eras. From the beginning, though, Pittsburgh has kept with a classic tradition in its hat logo.
Steel City Caps
1900-1909: The Pirates use a primitive capital “P” with a dovetailed base, a serif point, and a traditional pointed projection. Color schemes include a combination of navy blues, grays, and whites.
1910-1914: A classic, nondescript “P” is used for four seasons with the same traditional color scheme of navy and white.
1915-1946: This 30-year stretch provides Pittsburgh fans a return to the classic dovetailed design of 1909. There are four variations, including restyling the width and adjusting the color from red to white.
1948-Present: This is considered the black and gold era. Pittsburgh’s brass-knuckled style of their iconic “P” is first introduced in 1948, and remains largely unchanged to this very day. Variations to the hat logo over the past half-century include color tone, flipping from yellow-on-black to black-on-yellow, and introducing horizontal lines. Current Pirates insignia – one that has been in place since 1987 – is a nostalgic call to their 1948 logo.
As the Pirates proudly represent Pittsburgh and PNC Park for another glorious season, they’ll don the logo they hope will carry them into the postseason once again. If you’re looking for authentic on-field caps, and even throwback Barry Bonds-era hats, head to Fanatics for everything Pittsburgh.