As has been the pattern since 2008, Major League Baseball will be using special hats for Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and September 11 as part of their "Stars & Stripes" program. Mixing the design up every year, they're actually eschewing the namesake "stars and stripes," replacing them with a digital camouflage pattern. (Let me say that I think it's the Army's "Universal Camouflage Program," but military uniforms are outside my uniform wheelhouse. In terms of straight-up trivia, I'd give the designers lots of credit if the camouflage pattern for the Blue Jays followed one of Canada's CADPAT designs or if the Padres used one of the US Marines' patterns instead of what I assume is the US Army's pattern, but it doesn't look like either is the case.)
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This year, thankfully, MLB says they will donate "ALL NET PROCEEDS" from sales of the hat to the Welcome Back Veterans fund (previously, Kyle gave MLB heat for the shamelessness of contributing only $1 from a $37 MSRP item in order to play the "for the troops" card).
The Stars & Stripes hats are made in China, unlike the normal on-field New Era hats which are made by folks you'd normally see when there's an aggressive Clint Eastwood voiceover talking about it being half-time or 7th Inning Stretch or Second Intermission in America. USA!
So… how do they look? In a word, ugly. Oddly, instead of just framing the camo pattern with the normal white of the "P," they added an extra blue stroke on top of the white to frame the camo. Odd (and unnecessary). With just red and (generally green) camo, I'm stretching, but you get a nice "Christmas comes to Winter's Bone" effect. Red+Blue+Camo? Nope. Looking through the rest of the league, they just look like dirty versions of the normal hats. Also, like the Phillies, other teams, such as the Blue Jays, have gotten vestigial strokes added to the design for some reason.
For some positivity, a detail I've always liked on the Stars & Stripes hats is that they also drop-in the pattern in the "batterman" logo on the back of the hats, and they've continued that this year.
Looking at the Phillies hats since 2008, the 2009 hat is the best (being that it looks just like the normal hat, minus the red button on top) with the navy blue 2008 as runner-up. 2010 is hideous and 2011 looks missed the retro fad by about 4 years. For those interested in such things, the 2009/10/11 versions are easily found on ebay, but the 2008 hats are extremely rare (as in there hasn't been one on ebay in either hat size I can wear in the last 3 years). Last season, I offered a middle aged man at a Phillies game $60 for the one he had one his head, and he even knew not to sell it. I am not proud of any part of this anecdote…
Anyone out there planning on buying one of these? If so, you can line Kyle's pockets by clicking this link to purchase.
Pictures via lids.com and the very cool, but not-updated-since-2o1o Fittedelphia, which chronicles Phillies hats made by New Era.