I have to hand it to the owners of the Memphis Redbirds. They’ve surprised me by turning minor-league baseball nostalgia into a marketing tool in a city that once had a baseball logo called Nostalgia Man. Seriously. Nostalgia Man. Considering the sport’s lengthy history in the Bluff City, how refreshing is that?
Given that, let’s talk baseball caps.
In Memphis, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A team has finally settled on a winning combination of on-field hats — an all-red home hat with the team’s primary Redbird logo, and a navy road hat that features a music-themed “M” logo and a red bill. (And an alternate version, the Copa de la Diversion model.)
They’re winners for two reasons.
First, they really good.
Second, they’re far superior to the lids the team has worn since its birth in 1998.
“M” for monotonous, obviously.
A few weeks ago while in Memphis, I visited the team store at AutoZone Park. And here’s what I saw on the shelf amid all the Redbird red.
Those aren’t Redbird hats.
They’re rough models of hats Memphis’ assortment of minor-league teams have worn the last eight decades — teams called the Chicks (short for Chickasaw Indians), and several versions of the Blues, even a version that should have been called the Astros. Yes, the Astros, short-lived as they were. These hats augment the awesome throwback Chicks fitted hats and jerseys the Redbirds have sold for several years.
(A quibble, and a large one: What about the Memphis Red Sox?)
A neat addition: these new hats have the years they were worn on the back.
In truth, this isn’t really about hats. (The Redbirds sell throwback T-shirts, too.) It’s about a professional baseball team embracing their city’s past and honoring it while also selling a bit more gear in the team store. Money plays a role, obviously. But trust me, selling non-Redbirds gear at the Redbirds’ park doesn’t damage the team’s branding efforts. No one who fogs a mirror in Memphis and cares about baseball is confused about the name or logo of their current team.
So, bravo, Redbirds.
You get it.