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We've all been there: after plunking down your hard-earned bucks on the latest and greatest team-boosting headwear, you slap the cap onto your head and look in the mirror and think, "Wow, I look like a geek in this."

It's not because your head is inherently un-baseball-player-shaped! I know of exactly one person who looks good in an off-the-shelf baseball cap, and that's frequent Cheer-Clubber and Box-poster Useless Tyler. Last time I saw him, his cap looked as new as the day it was stitched together, and just right on his head.

For those of us who aren't Useless Tyler, we need to break-in our caps so we don't look like locomotive engineers. Breaking-in a cap is a loving process that takes years of wearing it day and night until it takes on the contours of your own head. Well, some of us don't have years. Some of us want our hats to look good on our heads now, in time for the upcoming baseball season. I ran into this problem in May of last year, when my wife bought me a new home grey Jays cap for my birthday.

I was going to break it in the old-fashioned way, by wearing it and wearing it some more, and bending the brim a bit into a nice, pleasant curve, but after enduring two weeks of "New hat, huh?" and "It'll look better when it's broken in" from the regular goons up in section 518, I decided I needed to do something about it a little faster.

(By the way, the cap in question is a fitted New Era 5950, the "authentic" hat sold at the Rogers Centre Bullpen Store, and the same style of hat that most MLB teams wear on the field. If you're buying a sized Jays hat, you'll be buying one of these.)

First thing I did was to try to work in the front panel, which sat up very high on my head. Well, nothing happened -- the panel is designed to be stiff but flexible, and no matter how much I scrunched it or crumpled it, the panel just jumped back to the same shape it started at. I'll admit I was a little irritated by this. So I turned to that amazing repository of all information, The Internet. Hey, if The Internet can give me instructions on how to build the Millennium Falcon out of Lego it can tell me anything!

Almost anything. Google was not very helpful, turning up hundreds of blog pages of people complaining about how hard it was to break-in their baseball caps, but no solutions or instructions. I was despondent; I couldn't take another inning of razzing from the guys in the cheap seats. In my desperation I wandered all over the New Era website, reading anything cap-related, and I learned all about how many different New York Yankees caps are sold by just this one company...

And then finally, there it was, hidden in cleverly with the washing instructions. The 5950 cap is made of wool -- if you wash it in warm water it will shrink, so you need to dry it on top of something similar to the size of your head, like an upside-down bowl or a basketball (you know who you are) or your actual head. If you dry it on your head, it will shrink precisely to the size and shape of your noggin... Well, that's some mighty useful information!

I immediately leaped up from my desk at work and rushed to the washroom to soak my cap in warm water. Then I clapped it onto my head and waited for the magic to happen. After about ten minutes of wet-cap discomfort, I began to suspect that I was the victim of a savage burn laid upon me by the webmaster of the New Era website. Unpleasantly lukewarm water was tricking down my back and into my eyes. I began to plot my revenge. But then, as the cap dried, a miracle happened: the cap began to shrink down to the dimensions of my head, pulling the stiffened front panel backwards so that it no longer stood so high up.

And now, with some additional curving of the brim, I have a cap that's very comfortably broken in. I highly recommend this method, despite the few hours of discomfort and the wet dog smell that will trail you until you have a shower, and not out of some perverse need to burn someone else as badly as I was burned.

How to Break In a Baseball Cap | 42 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Dr. Zarco - Monday, February 28 2005 @ 07:48 AM EST (#103888) #
NFH, I think there's a better way to break in that annoying front panel of the hat that comes stiff as a board. For as long as I can remember, I've been cutting the white (or black) mesh on the inside out. It's hard to get it started, as you have to peel the mesh away from the actual hat's wool, but once you do that, cutting along the edges isn't that hard, and the front is instantly not stiff.

I've tried the ol' warm water (actually, the dishwasher), and while it works, be careful--it can shrink too much!
Named For Hank - Monday, February 28 2005 @ 07:51 AM EST (#103889) #
But then you lose the shape of the hat, Doc! Unless you have a tall-ish forehead, in which case it'd probably look great.
Dr. Zarco - Monday, February 28 2005 @ 09:32 AM EST (#103892) #
Ah yes, I suppose I do have a tall honkin' 7 5/8ths head needs fitted hats. Maybe just take out the lower mesh part and keep the top part to keep the shape?
Named For Hank - Monday, February 28 2005 @ 09:39 AM EST (#103893) #
That could work. I'm always leery of doing surgery on an expensive hat.
kpataky - Monday, February 28 2005 @ 11:31 AM EST (#103913) #
You have to get Cameron Reimers, the pitcher from the Skychiefs last year, to give you his thoughts on this hat breaking in subject. I remember in 2003 while with New Haven, he taught my kids how to do this "properly". He said "there is a right way and a wrong way to break in a baseball cap!" I also recall him once saying, "There should be a class on how to do this properly - there is a whole nation of kids growing up right now that don't know how to do this properly!"
Named For Hank - Monday, February 28 2005 @ 12:02 PM EST (#103924) #
Heh, I think it would be a riot to ask players how they do it and compile the information. Do you have contact info for him or do you remember the breaking-in lessons?
Jdog - Monday, February 28 2005 @ 12:23 PM EST (#103939) #
There is only one way to break in a hat....You just take a nice long warm shower and the hat will fit nicely to your head , just keep wearing it until it dries and got yourself a nicely fitted cap.
kpataky - Monday, February 28 2005 @ 01:33 PM EST (#103952) #
I do have contact information, but can't release that information. If someone runs into him at minor league camp, or this year at a Skychiefs game, they should ask for a lesson. In the meantime I emailed him and made him aware of the topic and the site.

It had to do with bending the bill to a certain point, withit it causing a permanent fold or crease. He likened it to repetitive exercise.
Anders - Monday, February 28 2005 @ 03:40 PM EST (#103999) #
If we're thinking about the same Tyler here NFH, i dont want to know what you're smoking. (Sorry Tyler, I said it)
I've always just worn the hat, and try to get a small, even curve. My hair gets in the way anyway.

Speaking of which, until it got stolen out of my friends garage, I thought (well I still do) my fitted retro Jays cap, pre charcoal, roid-o-bird and weird maple leaf background, was the coolest thing around. Its definetly the best Jays cap. Who really has the coolest cap in the majors though? The Phillies/Dodgers are always popular it seems.
Useless Tyler - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 12:41 AM EST (#104043) #
Pffft. A critique of my hat-wearing style by the man who wears an ADJUSTABLE HAT.
Yeah, that's right, ADJUSTABLE. Bloody hypocrites.

Aaaanyway, quick thanks to Aaron for fulfilling my lifelong dream of being mentioned in a box article. However, it surely has been quite some time since he saw me in a baseball cap. I got a better-looking black cap for Christmas, and wearing it now looks extremely awkward. I may end up trying your method, Aaron.

At the same time, I'll continue to look better than someone whose cap rests three inches above his actual head, and is ADJUSTABLE.

Rich - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 11:48 AM EST (#104076) #
There is a trick to shape a fitted cap:

Take the brim and bend it backwards towards the front of the cap so that it folds the front down flat inside the hat (i.e. about a 300 degree counterclockwise rotation of the brim). It sounds nuts, but it shapes the front of the cap perfectly, while bending the brim into a nice curve.

To wash it, either buy Ballcap Buddy, a cheap wire contraption that the hat sits in or else place over a plastic bowl and wash in the dishwasher.
Anders - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 11:58 AM EST (#104078) #
It is perched aloof.

Besides, meshback caps are a style thing, and the only place to get good, non new jays caps is the official places, which are far away
Useless Tyler - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 12:38 PM EST (#104083) #
Excuses, excuses.

An adjustable hat. What a disgrace.
VBF - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 04:17 PM EST (#104108) #
I too have had this hat wearing dilemna. My full back cap became small and shrunk, which then required me to cut my hair much shorter than usual. (It came down to the $12 haircut or the $36 cap.)

I then purchased an adjustable cap made out of some sort of mesh, but not the trucker kind of mesh. More like a hockey jersey material. The only problem with that is that it is adjustable.

I then realized that the cap with everything going for it is not the 5950 cap, but the Flexfit version. Sure its not the official cap, but it does the job without the hassle.

nickyjam - Thursday, March 03 2005 @ 07:16 PM EST (#104321) #
hey what's up guys, i just wanted to know if anyone could tell me how to give the brim a nice curve cuz i try the bending method but it always goes back to the boring flat!!
Named For Hank - Thursday, March 03 2005 @ 08:52 PM EST (#104324) #
Nicky, just do it over and over and over again, and eventually it will retain the shape. I carried my cap around for two weeks when I wasn't wearing it, bending it the whole time.

VBF, on the New Era site they say that if your cap shrinks to too small you can put it over your knee, holding onto the brim, and pull towards yourself fairly hard. You'll hear a popping sound -- the band inside the perimeter of the cap is perforated and designed to pop apart with a good tug, allowing the wool to stretch again.
Thomas - Thursday, March 03 2005 @ 09:29 PM EST (#104326) #
Anyone have suggestions for how to get a good curve? Along the lines of Nicky's question I guess and I suppose I'll get a similar response, but I wanted a bit of a sharper curve, so I guess I have to just keep bending as well?
VBF - Thursday, March 03 2005 @ 11:44 PM EST (#104329) #
Thanks NFH, but it seems my 5950 is beyond repair, and soon it shall be retired to my Shrine to live with the hats of Blue Jay past.
VBF - Thursday, March 03 2005 @ 11:48 PM EST (#104333) #
Oh and Thomas, the best way to curve your hate is to take your hat and hold it with both hands on the brim so that the logo is looking at you. The grip on the brim should be with your thumb and index finger, with your thumb on the outside. Rotate your wrists and bring your hands together slowly. It will take time, but soon your brim will be nicely contoured. The most important thing is rotate your wrists though, otherwise you'll look like some sort of farmer when you wear it.
belboz - Sunday, October 02 2005 @ 04:51 PM EDT (#129452) #
A -bit- late for a response, but -- did you soak only the sweatband part of the cap? The visor also? The entire cap (which New Era says "will destroy its shape")??

And has anyone really broken the headband sizing by pulling on the back of the cap? I've applied a lot of force with no audible results at all, and more effort is liable to leave me with six separate, unstitched panels ..


Named For Hank - Sunday, October 02 2005 @ 10:07 PM EDT (#129475) #
A -bit- late for a response, but -- did you soak only the sweatband part of the cap? The visor also? The entire cap (which New Era says "will destroy its shape")??

It'll only destroy the shape if you don't dry it on your head. If you do, it'll shrink down to exactly the shape of your head.

And has anyone really broken the headband sizing by pulling on the back of the cap? I've applied a lot of force with no audible results at all, and more effort is liable to leave me with six separate, unstitched panels ..

I did it to a hat that was a little too small to start with and then shrunk over time. It didn't make much noise, but you have to pull pretty hard. It was definitely a size or two larger afterwards.
belboz - Monday, October 03 2005 @ 08:36 PM EDT (#129568) #
Interesting! Thanks for the ideas.

I experimented on a New Era hat (came as a gift and is one size too big), and the cap itself shrunk very nicely to head-shape. What did NOT shrink as much as the cap fabric was the sweatband -- it reduced a little, but now the profile of the cap is "stepped" .. it shows the headband, then a step "in" to the head-shaped fabric just above.

Perhaps this will cure itself as drying completes (been 5 hrs now, and the cap is now merely mildly damp and uncomfortable); but if not, does this suggest a problem with the procedure??

Thanks (again) ..

Named For Hank - Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:13 PM EDT (#129572) #
Perhaps, perhaps not.

I noticed earlier this year when Roy Halladay turned his cap inside out during a rally that he actually cuts the sweatband out of his caps. That might be the thing to do if that little step bugs you.

You can always re-wet it and re-shrink it.

Let us know how your hat looks in the end.
HollywoodHartman - Monday, October 03 2005 @ 10:50 PM EDT (#129573) #
Do you guys have any tips on how to brake in a glove?
VBF - Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 12:02 AM EDT (#129575) #
First get some glove oil. Put a dab on and rub it in thoroughly in the palm. Then get a ball and stick it in and tape or tie it for overnights (although some say it isn't necessarily a good thing). And play lots of catch.

When I was breaking in a catcher's glove, I would just catch a pitching machine.
VBF - Tuesday, October 04 2005 @ 12:03 AM EDT (#129576) #
belboz - Wednesday, October 05 2005 @ 04:58 PM EDT (#129709) #
Story summary: with a measurement just a TOUCH larger than 7 3/8, I found the best approach was to break the sizing as described (just a _little_), and then slightly dampen the cap on the panels behind the two with the team logo. The result after wearing-to-dry is nearly perfect.

The earlier experimental cap was a 7 5/8. Soaking it and wearing until dry served only to make it smaller *vertically* instead of circumferentially, and since it was a "low profile" New Era the result now looks rather like a large beanie. Thus, the -slight- dampening on the 7 3/8 .. I expect I could get the same result from a normal profile 7 1/2 cap as well; but smaller or larger than those two sizes won't work regardless of procedures; of course.

Thanks again for the ideas,


HollywoodHartman - Sunday, February 12 2006 @ 04:05 PM EST (#141026) #
I just picked up a nice new Oakland A's hat. I'm not too worried about breaking in the cap itself (I'm going to Israel for a week and half tomorrow, if it's not broken in by then I'll try the warm water trick). What I need help with is the brim. Anybody have any tips on how to get a nice natural looking curve?
VBF - Sunday, February 12 2006 @ 04:28 PM EST (#141027) #
To steal a page from my own words...

The best way to curve your hate is to take your hat and hold it with both hands on the brim so that the logo is looking at you. The grip on the brim should be with your thumb and index finger, with your thumb on the outside. Rotate your wrists and bring your hands together slowly. It will take time, but soon your brim will be nicely contoured. The most important thing is rotate your wrists though, otherwise you'll look like some sort of farmer when you wear it.

To add to that, make sure that the space from each end of the brim slowly gets bigger, as the brim is closer to the hat. If you turn the cap over, it should look like a curvey 'V'. And the grip with your finger should be on the point where the outer edge of the brim meets the cap part.

And Oakland A's? Tisk, Tisk. By the way, if anyone noticed, the picture of recent signing Chris House shows him wearing a fullback black cap with a blue rim. Maybe it was just one of those things, or maybe there's a hat change in the works.

HollywoodHartman - Sunday, February 12 2006 @ 06:59 PM EST (#141029) #
Thanks! Oh and btw I went with the A's because I think it's a very nice hat, and there are only so many different Jays ones I could go through. My one from last year will still be worn from time to time though.
AlexZ - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 02:48 PM EDT (#165650) #
Hello, I hate to bring back an old topic, but I thought this info would provide useful in response to your article. The New Era 5950's are no longer made of wool, but polyester. This is to prevent shrinking. I recently attended a San Francisco Giants game while visiting San Fran, and decided to pick up their cap. As I tried it on, the man told me some info about the new design, how its the official on field cap and all. He then said how it isn't made of wool and wont shrink. I thought that was good at first, until I realized it sat tall on my head, and I looked like a locomotive engineer. I just want to give a heads up to anyone who is buying a new hat, that this method wont work. Any tips on breaking in a polyester cap? Well, thanks anyway for the article. I would have tried it out if my hat was actually wool.

VBF - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 04:29 PM EDT (#165652) #

I bought the new T cap when it came out, and liked the idea that it wouldn't shrink (It also seems to be less magnetic to hair and fluff as well). But it's been over a couple months now and the hat still hasn't been able to properly gel on my head (nor Frank Thomas'). I've worn it backwards and forwards alternating it in hopes that it will break in and it seems to be slowly coming along, but nothing significant. I think time is the only answer.

AlexZ - Thursday, April 12 2007 @ 05:14 PM EDT (#165653) #
Yeah. I also haven't bent mine significantly because if you don't make a large bend and wear it back a little, it doesn't looks so bad, even when its not broken in. I wear it loosely and up for now, until I can find a solution. I'm afraid to bend it because I don't want it to be permanent just yet. I don't usually wear hats, so I'm not sure if they look better bent or straight on me.
daryn - Thursday, April 19 2007 @ 01:55 PM EDT (#166182) #

funny that this thread should come up.  I'm sure its just a spam situation, but since its here.....

I think the Jays need to hire a specialist to break in caps. Some teams have a guy that does gloves, we need someone for hats..

The other day I saw Adam Lind on TV... he needed help, then the Announcer (Campbell?) laughs and says he hasn't seen a hat that bad since Chad Mottola ...

Hello guys.. pattern here??? lets get a Roving instructor down to AAA or something...  its a crisis

Hairy Haren - Saturday, April 21 2007 @ 11:36 PM EDT (#166377) #
I was also told that the new 5950's were non-shrinkable. However If you wet the cap and use the girlfriend's/wife's hairdryer you can make the cap less dome-like.

The polyester may not shrink, but the inside mesh form a tighter fit to your head.

Venom0420 - Friday, June 22 2007 @ 06:58 AM EDT (#170336) #

Hello all.

I recently bought a new 59fifty hat (over the Internet). My problem is not trying to get it to mold around my head or break it in, but actually stretching it a size larger. I based the new Polyester hat size off my old wool hat. My wool hat is amazingly comfortable while my new hat that 'says' it's the same size constricts my head and leaves a big red imprint on my forehead where the tag is. I wear my hat's backwards by the way.

Anyway I read some of the old comments and noticed that there was a band that you could snap in the older wool hats to make it a size or two larger. Do the new polyester hat's have that? Since they're suppose to be shrink resistant I imagine not. I'd rather not have to cut the sweat band out either. I read a story about how a guy managed to stretch his hat by wrapping it around a mini basketball and letting it sit by the heater so it would expand. Problem is I don't have a heater (although I imagine the 108 degree weather here would work) or a miniature sized basketball. I've also read stories about actually taking a hot shower with the hat on? I don't know if that's a good idea.

Any help would be appreciated,

thanks Blue Jay fans.

- A Dbacks fan in need.

Dan Daoust - Tuesday, February 26 2008 @ 11:53 AM EST (#180334) #
Just wanted to see if I can revise this topic.  I have a Raptors hat that I bought off (couldn't find any in New York where I live).  The brim is already contoured, so that's nice, but the hat is way too small on my head.  Small enough to give me a headache, really.  It's 84% tactel -- I don't even know what that is -- 14% cotton and 2% polyurethan.  Any tips to stretch it out?  I'm wary of major surgery, I'd rather force my son to wear it in its current incarnation...
VBF - Tuesday, February 26 2008 @ 03:41 PM EST (#180346) #
Basketball eh?

Wikipedia says that tactel is a brand name of a type of nylon. Nylon being a man made fabric, I assume would resemble polyester. Since man has been able to create "poly" fabrics which are stronger, and both are man made.

Now polyester, as everyone learned this year with the new hats, maintains the exact shape that it was originally fabricated. That said, there's some wool in that hat, so hopefully some room for it to stretch? I would try the things done above--the laundry machine seems to work for me. I don't think you'll get anything near the effect you'd get if you had a 100% wool hat as we used to be able to buy (the minors still use this hat--or the Chiefs sold me an old one), but it's worth a shot.

And if you have the Flex Fit band inside the hat, that's probably a good thing too because those things can stretch to all sorts of heads.
MAFA - Thursday, June 04 2009 @ 11:06 PM EDT (#200883) #
Been wearing fitted hats for years. Honestly I have only had 1 hat that ever gave me fits. It happened 2 years ago or so when they switched materials and they were a little smaller. Was a 7 3/8 now I have to wear a 71/2. A good cuff on a hat starts as soon as you put it on your head. You have to take the bill and use both hands and make the sides of the bill touch, without creasing the middle of the bill. Put it on your head and do it again, it's a process that takes a little time but is proven with me. Or depending on your age, do like my 11 year old and leave the bill flat. He's a lefty pitcher and he mimicks the odd ball pitchers in colledge and the pros.(Lefties are a little of center.)
rpriske - Friday, June 05 2009 @ 04:51 PM EDT (#200911) #

I really dislike fitted caps. I find they NEVER fit right. I want a cap to sit loosely on my head, not gripping it, but sitting on it...including the top.

I just got a Las Vegas 51s batting practice cap with a velcro tab (which I wear near the limits of its expandibility) and the thing fits beautifully.


j2701 - Monday, October 12 2009 @ 06:09 AM EDT (#207397) #

I found somewhere,(it could have even been this site) that you could put the polyester hats in the over at 200 degrees F on a cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes and then pull it out and mold it to your head. I've done this with a few of my hats and it works great.

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