History of the Baggy Cap
The Authoritative Origin of the Worlds Oldest Sports Cap
Much has rightly been written about the legend of the “Baggy Green” and its incredible place in Australian cricketing history. Justifiably as the steep history and tradition of the “Baggy Green” goes back well over 120 years. (visit our Much More section on our website to read about the “Baggy Green” legend)
What is much less known about however is the absolutely amazing history that the actual Baggy Cap has which dates back back well over 160 years.
At Baggy Caps, we have long been fascinated by this history...a history which leads us and other to possibly that the Baggy style of Cap is the most historically famous style of sporting headwear ever designed and manufactured. Indeed Baggy Caps is currently working closely with a number of historians from across the world and a major sports publishing company so as to eventually publish an authoritative opus on the subject. Because as we outline below...the humble Baggy Caps journey over the past 160 years is certainly captivating one (no pun intended).
BaggyCaps.com welcomes with open arms historians or fellow enthusiasts who may be able to add to the history outlined below.
Historical & Early Vintage Sports Headwear
Caps and hats and the every day wearing of headwear obviously has a history going back many millennia. In terms of organised sporting headwear, early depictions (pre photography) shows sports men and women wearing a variety and multitude of hat and cap styles.
Though one could debate the exact definition of a Baggy Cap...there can be little debate about the first recorded origins of what is clearly a Baggy style of Cap which was worn by sportsman dating back to the mid 1800's.
From the cricketing perspective, there is a wide array of recorded headwear worn by cricketers in the 1700 and 1800s. Early formalised cricket headwear from these periods predominantly appear to be what we now call or refer to as skull caps which is effectively a cap without peak. Whilst there is evidence of cricket caps with peaks being worn by cricketers in the early 1800s they appear to just be like caps worn by the every day gentleman of the period.
Earliest Recorded Origins of a Baggy Cap
Most people justifiably associate the Baggy Cap with the game of cricket...which was played all around the world in the 1800s.
There is however no doubt that from the historical perspective at least...this is a commonly held fallacy and a very inaccurate assumption, because there is no doubt the origins of the Baggy Cap actually originate from the game of Baseball!
As you can see...the earliest Boston style baseball caps are effectively exactly the same as what everyone refers to today as being a Baggy Cap. 8 panel lined construction, woven woollen felt fabric, attached peak / brim, and as clearly seen offered in a multitude of colours and patterned styles.
Whilst cricket was played extensively in the US in the 1800s (indeed the first ever recorded game of international cricket was played between the US and Canada in 1844) there is as mentioned no doubt the first Baggy Caps were made specifically for baseball.
And, from our research...we have come to the conclusion that the very first ever recorded Baggy Caps made for sports use (baseball) were designed and manufactured by a tailor, craftsman and shop owner by the name of Irving Snyder who along with his younger brother and business partner Andrew Peck then became the famous Peck & Snyder sports shop and sporting goods manufacturers based in New York city.
Whilst it is possible of course that other tailors and artisans may have made a Baggy style sports cap prior to Irving Snyder...there is absolutely no doubt that the Snyder family were effectively the 'Henry Ford' of the sports headwear industry. Indeed Peck & Snyder are recognised around the world as being the first shop or company or operation to ever produce the worlds first ever sports catalogue showing the sports good for sale that they manufactured. (today of course the internet would have millions of sports catalogues online, but accounts and records of the day show that when the worlds first ever sports catalogue was produced by Peck & Snyder there was incredible demand if not a fever across the USA to just even see the catalogue let alone own one)
At Baggy Caps we quite proudly own an official reproduction of two early Peck & Snyder catalogues, as we do see Irving Snyder as being the father, creator and person most responsible for this fantastic style of sports headwear. As part of the historical opus we are continuing to work on we will shortly reproduce ever page of these catalogues to be online for all to see and be amazed by.
So circa 1850 to 1852...what was known as the Boston style baseball cap made by Irving Snyder was indeed the very first ever Baggy Cap as we know it today. Interestingly there are records showing the very first baseball caps made by the Snyder family were actually made using straw, but wool based textiles quickly became the fabric these caps were made from which still holds to this very day.
Cricket and the Baggy Cap
Following Peck & Snyders manufacturing of the Boston style baseball cap … this style of cap quickly became crickets preferred style of headwear...and as you can see there are many photos and depictions of cricketers wearing a baggy styled Boston Cap in the mid to late 1800s in the US, Canada and England.
Indeed the most famous cricketer of all time...the good 'doctor'. The great WG Grace was often depicted and photographed wearing a baggy styled Boston Cap.
The legend of the Australian Baggy Green cap was also born in the late 1800s,though very very interestingly...we have come across numerous reports indicating that the very first Australian Baggy Green caps were not in fact green, they were in fact “Navy” baggies. If there is anyone out there who has any more information or evidence about the first Australian Baggy Greens actually being Navy we would welcome and greatly appreciate hearing from you. History and the truth should be respected which is why we are hesitant to state that the first Baggy Greens were in fact navy but as mentioned any more information on this would be most welcome.
AFL Football and the Baggy Cap
What very very few people realise is that the Baggy Cap was widely worn by Australian Rules footballers in the 1800s well before cricketers ever took to wearing baggy style caps. In fact, Aussie Rules footballers used to actually wear their baggy caps whilst playing the game as they had to mark their ground when they took a mark by throwing their cap on the ground as a marker.
The baggy cap in the then AFL of the day was also widely used by the leagues all around Australia as a recognition and award especially with respect to Premiership Caps...and this was a common tradition up until the Great War (WW1) when it appears that wool and woollen fabrics were all then diverted to the war effort. Whilst Baggy Caps in the AFL leagues did make something of a comeback in the 1920s and 1930s their use was again curtailed by World War 2, after which Baggy Caps never made a widely used comeback in AFL.
At Baggy Caps we think its such a shame that the AFL originally used Baggy Caps well before cricket, but this great tradition and history was never encouraged or allowed to return to its roots in Australias main winter sports.
Cricket has rightly and wonderfully nurtured and grown the legend and mystique of the famous Baggy Green but what a shame that the great 150 year tradition of winning a Premiership Cap in Australian Rules was never brought back by the administrators of AFL over the past 50 years.
In 2014 BaggyCaps.com met with the AFL at AFL House in Melbourne to outline and show the great and rich history that the Baggy Cap had in the AFL, and that bringing back the tradition of players actually winning their own Premiership Baggy for those very rare and hard earned flag victories should be looked at by administrators all around Australia. Not to mention issuing All Australian Baggy Caps for the games best players every year. Ask any Australian Rules Footballer if they would like to commemorate their Grand Final victory with their own Premiership Baggy Cap and we are pretty sure we all know what that answer would be.
The pictures of AFL Premiership Baggy Caps attached show just how rich this tradition used to be and what a shame that sports all around the world all too often fail to embrace their rich culture and grassroots heritage.
The Future of the Baggy Cap
Starting with Irving Snyder in New York in the mid 1800s, there have been many fantastic craftsmen and companies in the US, Australia, England and more making proper traditional Baggy Caps. (Our respect for these wonderful artisans is actually shown on our main homepage photo banner)
At BaggyCaps.com this is a tradition that we decided to start ourselves as well in 1998...and it is our absolute intention to make sure the rich heritage of the Baggy Cap continues on for another 100 years by designing, manufacturing and supplying the best range of Baggy Caps in the world full stop.
Stay tuned for our continued evolution and indeed soon to be revolution of the Baggy Caps headwear industry.
Interesting Foot Notes
The 'father of the Baggy Cap' Irving Snyder actually travelled to Australia in the 1880s bringing with him a full range of his sports goods and clothing & headwear apparel. Snyder travelled to Australia with a famous US baseball pitcher Albert Goodwill Spalding who eventually bought the Peck & Snyder Sports goods business. And Spaldings went on to become one of the most famous sports based companies in the world still operating today.
Peck & Snyder are widely recognised as having produced the worlds first ever collectable sports cards...starting with their famous baseball cards in the 1860s. They again were the Henry Ford of what is today a billion dollar world wide industry of collectable sports cards. And if by chance you were to ever track down an original Peck & Snyder card from the 1800s...you would be in possession of a very, very valuable collectable item.