The holiday season is upon us. Hanukkah wrapped up on Monday and Christmas is just over a week away. Perhaps you are making your wish list for friends and family. And, like any true Rockies fan, you want to increase your team apparel collection in an effort to suppress the anxiety that comes from the knowledge that we are still 4 months away from Opening Day. “Perhaps I shall request a new baseball cap, which I can wear upon my head to hide my tears that baseball is so far away.” If you are one who wears hats you surely already have the official Rockies purple and black road cap or the mountain batting practice cap (if you wear the all-black home caps, you need to embrace the purple, as several Rockies affiliates already have). “Perhaps I should support my favorite major league team by acquiring the cap of one of our minor league affiliate teams, and pretend I am merely a hot prospect waiting for my call-up to the big club and not waiting for the endless winter to cease.” But which one?
In steps Rockies Zingers with the hard hitting analysis you crave. We’re going to count down the best caps among Rockies affiliates, because it’s wintertime and I hear listicles get good traffic or something. A few rules: Only official, on-field or batting practice caps will be considered. This gives us a list of 24 caps, which doesn’t even include gems such as this one, so we have to keep it short somehow. This also means, regrettably, no throwbacks (sorry Rock Cats). Fortunately, the Rockies wealthy farm system also is rich in fantastic caps, representing 5 of the top 101 caps in this year’s Clash of the Caps at MiLB.com, so there is plenty to work with here. So, without further ado, here is the definitive* ranking of all Rockies minor league team caps.
- Albuquerque Isotopes Road: The Isotopes are one of the most recognizable brands in all of minor league baseball, one of the top selling teams year in and year out. Besides, they are the Triple-A affiliate, meaning their players are the ones who are closest to joining the big league club, so there’s always that connection. This cap is their classic, two-toned look and you should invest in it…unless you prefer…
- Albuquerque Isotopes Purple Sunday: To celebrate joining #RoxFam for the 2015 season, the Isotopes created a special alternate uniform to be worn during “Purple Sunday” home games. They’ve embraced the purple, and so should you. These two ‘Topes caps really should be 1a and 1b.
- Harford Yard Goats Alternate: Who doesn’t want a hat with a goat chewing a bat? The answer is obvious: everyone. The only question remains is which color? While the home blues will be the most commonly worn hats, the two-tone green and blue represents the primary team colors.
- Asheville Tourists Home: Mr. Moon has several different inspirations but either way, the person responsible deserves a raise. He wears sunglasses with reflection of a baseball field in the lenses. He has a hat with the unique Asheville A on it. He’s got that swagger filled smirk. He’s awesome. And you can wear him on your head. Plus, he glows in the dark. What more could you want?
- Modesto Nuts Away: A goat. An Isotope with circulating baseballs. Mr. Moon. This top tier is loaded. The fact that Wally the Walnut (and his red bill) falls all the way down to #5 is really indicative of the strength of this competition and how you really can’t go wrong with any of these.
- Boise Hawks Purple: The Hawks were another new affiliate for the Rockies this past season and they, too, made the great decision to #EmbraceThePurple and it worked out great. They made an even better decision using their vastly superior claw & ball alternate cap (which still places highly on this list). Maybe the #EmbraceThePurple was just an elaborate marketing ploy but, as you can see, it’s an elaborate marketing ploy that works.
- Modesto Nuts Home: Al the Almond is the Nut seen at home. While some prefer the solid black, these rankings are my rankings and the lack of color is the tiebreaker here. But really either one is awesome.
- Asheville Tourists Batting Practice: We already established that Mr. Moon is awesome. Now give him his hobo bindle/bat to swing and he’s even more awesome. And he still glows in the dark.
- Salt River Rafters: This is subtle and, arguably shouldn’t be included, since it isn’t exclusively a Rockies affiliate, since each Arizona Fall League team represents up to 5 total major league teams. However, it is probably one of the best AFL team caps and deserves recognition, especially since they play at the Rockies spring training home.
- Harford Yard Goats Batting Practice: The typeface of this hat has roots in the New York-New Haven-Hartford Railroad, which makes an already cool letter mark even better. But it’s not the goat, so you’ll really have to explain what the YG stands for, and that knocks it down the rankings.
- Boise Hawks Batting Practice: This is the same alternate logo seen above except with the two-tone red and green colors. With this you can remember your Christmas present all year round!
- Asheville Tourists Alternate: This might be one of the more underrated caps in the catalog. First of all, it’s two-tone, which is always a plus in my book. It’s also a subtle homage to the architecture of the Asheville area, as well as the starry nights in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a pretty great cap that only falls this low due to the great competition
- Hartford Yard Goats Home: See above. The blue is great, but just a notch off of the green and blue.
- Boise Hawks Road: There are many people who love this cap. It’s unique, aggressive and intimidating take on one of the more common sports names in the country and the mix of colors really pops. However, it suffers in comparison to the claw-and-ball alternate logo.
- Albuquerque Isotopes Home: I’ll admit that I’m biased against monochromatic hats (more color people!) but if you’re going to go monochrome, go with black. It’s clean and timeless.
- Harford Yard Goats Sunday: If you live in Hartford, I’m sure this one has meaning and significance (apparently it was modeled after the old Hartford Whalers insignia). However, it doesn’t quite work, which is really saying something for a team called The Yard Goats.
- Grand Junction Rockies: Over the past several years minor league teams have trended away from adopting the name of their major league affiliate and toward monikers that more accurately reflect the local flavor. The Grand Junction Rockies are an exception to the first part of that statement but not quite the second. They do lie on the other side of the Rocky Mountains from their Major League affiliate, and their logo includes local geography like the Grand Mesa and the Little Bookcliffs, so they do reflect the local flavor. The hat logo is generic but, seeing as it’s their only one, they deserve a little bonus.
- Boise Hawks Home : Like the road cap, but monochrome. Boring. But hey, those gashes!
- Albuquerque Isotopes Alternate 2: Prefer a little more color, but already have too much purple in your wardrobe? The two toned alternate is a fine alternative. The Isotopes introduced the new alternates just this year so it feels a little too new to climb very high.
- Boise Hawks Alternate Green & Gray: If you’re going for a Boise Hawks hat, there are several better options above.
- Harford Yard Goats Road: Happy St Patrick’s Day! Wait, it’s not? You’re sure? Either way, the two-tone is better. Heck, even the blue one is better.
- Albuquerque Isotopes Alternate 1: The only thing worse than monochromatic hats is monochromatic colored hats. Color is good, but without contrast it just gets to be too much.
- Asheville Tourists Road: The “A” is unique, but there is a more interesting version in the alternate. The color is interesting, but it is still monochromatic. Considering the strength of the rest of the Tourists caps, this one is pretty disappointing.
- Modesto Nuts Alternate: If you prefer to wear the cap that Wally and Al—the much cooler mascots for the team—are wearing, this is the hat for you. Well, not even that, because they wear red and this hat is monochromatic and black. I understand what they were going for here, but this is the most generic “meh” hat in the whole bunch, which is a problem in a lineup as interesting as this one.
In case you’re curious, the Tourists have the highest average ranking at 11.75, and the Isotopes come in second with a 11.8. Next are the Nuts with a 12 (even though one took the last spot), then the Yard Goats at 12.8 and the Hawks at 13.8.
So there you have it, the definitive ranking of all the (available) official hats in the Rockies system. Remember, if you don’t have the classic black and purple yet, start with that. Otherwise, use this as your guide.
How would you rank them? Which are your favorites and which would you rather never see again? Which do you have and which are you hoping to get next? Let us know in the comments!