The pink cap has been a source of contention in baseball fandom since clothing manufacturers discovered they could sell team clothing successfully without having to use the team’s actual colors. Now, the BOSTON GLOBE is examining the pink hat issue among Red Sox fans, and the supposed sociological issues that the pink only touches the tip of.
The debate over the caps basically boils down to the die-hards saying that pink gear wearers aren’t real fans, and they’re bandwagon jumpers from the Sox’s massive success in the past few years. Writer Kate M. Jackson draws a link with the “gentrification” of the BoSox fandom into the mythical “Red Sox Nation” (god, I hate that term so much.)
The squabbling is about more than fashion, clearly. It’s about the gentrification of Fenway and rising ticket prices and chicken Caesar wraps where Fenway Franks once reigned, unchallenged. Fans in pink hats are just the icing on the cake.
“When a team is winning, you’re going to see more fans climbing aboard, creating more supply and demand,” said Shawn McBride, vice president of sports marketing for Ketchum, a public relations firm. “It happened with the Patriots, it’s happening now with the Celtics. But with the Red Sox, it’s an even bigger phenomenon. It’s not so much a bandwagon as a caravan.”
Pink hat haters note that it reeks of the hated rival Yankees, while supporters suggest gender overtones to the criticism — linking it with the the obviously out-of-date thought that women can’t really appreciate sports or be true fans. This sort of question as to who’s a real fan reeks of the old “who’s punk/indie and who’s not” debate that drives the music world — it’s all about puffing up your “dedication.”
Personally, I don’t hate pink hats because I think people are somehow not as into the game. I hate them because I dislike any and all baseball gear that deviates from the team colors. This isn’t solely a Red Sox deal, obviously. When you see Dodger caps in colors that aren’t blue or Yankees caps in red, they really aren’t team caps to me. Then again, I’m someone who wishes his beloved Mets would ditch the black, so you can throw me in the “cranky old man” camp. (And get off my lawn while you’re at it.)
Plus, most of the non-team color team caps are frickin’ hideous. If you need proof, scan MISTER IRRELEVANT’S “Hot Fitteds” category for proof. At least the pink cap wearers aren’t sporting stuff like this one below (yet.)