In what has become a yearly ritual, New Era released their new line of MLB Spring Training caps recently for sale to the public. It's quite a revamped design overall, with most caps being just one primary color of the team and made of different materials. There's also one difference with the SF Giants that could imply the designers were worried people wouldn't immediately connect the new orange and black lid with the reigning National League West champions.
The MLB-wide practice of using different caps for Spring Training began in 1999, according to a brief timeline published 10 years ago by Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch. First marketed as "Batting Practice" caps, they have been standard wear for Spring Training workouts and games and, in recent years, pre-game BP in the regular season (with the adjustment of removing the "Cactus League" or Grapefruit League" patch from the Spring Training design). Before the late-90s, many teams simply wore their standard regular-season on-field cap in the spring.
There's evidence that some teams actually went with a trucker-style snapback hat with mesh for the side and back panels for Spring Training in the 1980s and 90s, and reportedly back into the 70s. This year's material change has all teams going to the trucker mesh, though in professional baseball's traditional fitted style instead of snapback.
Most teams - with the exception of the Philadelphia Phillies - have one solid color for the visor, front panels, side and back mesh panels. Most also use a familiar logo embroidered in just two or three colors, with a few throwback logos used (White Sox, Cardinals, Twins).
What's different about the SF Giants' Spring Training caps?
And then we see the Giants. It's all-black - nothing out of the ordinary there. The logo in the center appears to be the same "G" as the team's awful "City Connect" uniforms released in 2021, though just a solid black outlined in the traditional orange rather than the gradient "international orange" to white from the jerseys.
There's also a small "SF" in the normal font sewn into the lower-right corner on the front. None of the caps from other teams has this feature, leading to the question: Is the City Connect "G" still too obscure for the casual observer to connect it to the Giants? It's also possible, as Chris Creamer of sportslogos.net (where you can see every team's cap) explains, that a branding guideline exists requiring the "SF" to be placed nearby if the City Connect "G" is used.
Nevertheless, it appears New Era created more questions than answers with the Giants' Spring Training cap. Who decided to use that "G"? Why not a more traditional logo, like most teams are using, or a throwback of some sort? And if someone decided it had to be a G, why the City Connect and not the classic version Willie Mays has kept alive?
We'll probably never know, but hopefully New Era comes to their senses next year.