It smells like a combination of gym locker, fertilizer and stale Fritos. It is covered with every stain from grass to blood to Cheeze Wiz. It looks like your dad’s slippers after your new puppy hunted them out of the closet and shredded them. And as filthy and gross as it is, men seem unable to live without it. It follows him to class, stays with him when he watches TV and accompanies him to the gym. It is his baseball hat. And for some strange reason, he loves it.
A man’s hat is much more than a fashionable accessory, and it is more than a proclamation of allegiance to a particular sports team. Think of it as more of a scrapbook, or a quilt grandmothers make with every piece of childhood, including a first burp rag, sewn into it. Every little piece of dirt and grass stain has a story behind it. And all the elements together provide a perfect representation of the man wearing the hat, explains sophomore Andy Wilson.
When a guy looks at his hat, he remembers the slide home after a homerun that left a smudge. He remembers the Coke that someone spilled on his head in the chaos that erupted when his favorite player hit the three-point shot at the buzzer to win the game. The bloodstain reminds him of his best friend’s two front teeth that he knocked out when the two of them were playing “Wrestle Mania” in the back yard
“My hat defines who I am,” Wilson said. “It’s a little dirty, casual, a little worn and laid back – just like me, a laid-back kind of guy.”
Many clothing lines like Abercrombie & Fitch and GAP have taken advantage of this trend and now sell pre-worn hats. The hats are supposed to provide all the look without the effort. But this is not a welcome convenience to some.
“(Pre-worn hats) are cheap,” Wilson said. “It’s a cop-out. It’s just faking it. It’s an accomplishment to wear a hat out yourself. It proves you’ve stuck with it and you won’t just abandon it for a new model.”
Men seem to love baseball hats for same reason that dogs are a guy’s best friend. Dogs are loyal and will never leave their owner’s side. A man’s hat is his proof of his loyalty and commitment.
“It’s like a security blanket,” freshman Matt Bavoe said about his worn hat. “It has holes in it and it’s just collecting dust and your mom tells you to throw it away, but you won’t because it still means something to you.”
It is not contempt for all things clean that compels men to keep their dirty head decorations. It is childlike loyalty. It is a security blanket, and one men do not have to hide from the rest of the world.