Remember When It Was Cool To Bend the Bills of Baseball Caps?

Remember when it was cool to bend the bills of baseball caps into almost a cylinder?

I do.

Baseball caps were one of the ways I showed society that I was cool.  When I was a little kid, the really cool way to wear a baseball cap was by pivoting the cap around the head 180 degrees.  Around the time I started high school, though, more and more baseball caps were being worn straight on the forehead but with the sides of the bills curved down so as to make a small arch above the wearer’s face.

It is hard to describe what this extreme bill bend was like.  People used to curve the bill so much that it almost looked like they were wearing rolled up newspapers on their foreheads.  When a group of these extreme bill benders got together in a circle, they looked from afar like a gaggle of tall geese in denim.

I’m not sure how or why this trend developed.  Perhaps the idea was to hide the wearer’s face.  For some people this was good policy.

I received a baseball cap as a gift for my fifteenth birthday and immediately started bending it into the proper shape.  I did this in class when I was supposed to be learning about chlorophyll or something.  A classmate in the next row over, whose baseball cap bill formed almost a perfect circle if you at it straight on, told me that I was approaching the bend all wrong.  “What you have to do,” he said, “is wet the bill, and put a few big rubber bands around it, and put in the freezer for a few days.”

Knowing that unsolicited advice from a random high schooler could never lead me astray, I thanked him and implemented the technique as soon as I got home.  I sprinkled water on the bill, and sculpted it into that curved shape, and wrapped a few thick rubber bands around it, and put it in the freezer between some hamburgers and a Cool Whip container filled with sauce.  Then I went into the living room to watch Saved By the Bell.

Later that evening my mother was preparing dinner.  “Mark,” she called, “can you come in here please?”  I went into the kitchen and she was holding my hat with the rubber bands still on it.  “Would you mind telling me what this was doing in the freezer?”

I told her why.  The die was cast.

“I do not want to find hats in my freezer ever again,” she said.  I wanted to ask her how she expected me to achieve the proper bend in my bill without using proper freezer technique.  I wanted to tell her that if I was to be a leader among my peers, everyone was going to have to make a sacrifice.  But I held my tongue, and accepted my cold, wet, less-than-ideally-bended hat, and somehow survived my high school years.

I do not see many bended bills today, at least not the way they used to bend them.  Baseball caps are still very popular, and a variety of styles have emerged to supplant the extreme bend of my high school days, and I suppose a variety of kitchen appliances are being used to achieve those styles.  I don’t try to keep up.  Although I still have a baseball cap, it does not get much use, as people generally do not hire lawyers who go around in baseball caps.

But once in a while, when I’m at home, and feeling nostalgic…

“Mark,” my wife calls from the kitchen, “can you come in here please?”

23 Comments

Filed under Fashion

23 responses to “Remember When It Was Cool To Bend the Bills of Baseball Caps?

  1. I like this story and how you told it….yes, I do remember the hat bills rolled, but I never understood why.

  2. Fantastic, sir. Nicely done. “When a group of these extreme bill benders got together in a circle, they looked from afar like a gaggle of tall geese in denim.” That is worth quoting. And I shall.

  3. And I have. But I have to ask, what’s with the cats?

    • I needed something to fill out the header, and my understanding is that cats garner a disproportionate amount of attention on the internet. My next step is an animated gif of a cat playing piano.

      Thanks for the quote and pingback. I’m glad you liked the post.

  4. Pingback: I Was a Tall Goose In Denim | christopher cocca

  5. My son told me the other day that he wanted a “flat hat”. I had no idea what he was talking about — like a news boy hat? no. a golf kinda hat? no. a beret?! mom! no.
    Turns out the kids these days wear their baseball hats’ bills completely flat.
    Great post!

  6. That goes to show, everything that once was nerdy will be cool, and everything that once was cool will be cool again. The flat hat has been around a long time…almost long enough to start curving again.

    I remember the first time I switched from wearing my backpack on one shoulder to two, a few years after having my the initial 80s switch from two to one. These things often start with people trying to be ironic.

  7. You are a great storyteller! I never put a hat in the freezer but I do remember running a couple over with cars for quick breakinage. I’m really digging your writing.

  8. I found this post to be hilarious. I remember the days of the newspaper-like curved baseball hats. Thanks for writing so well, and for a trip down memory lane.

  9. Good post!

    I never cared much for that rolled style, a distant echo of the 60s when pro players and the kids who emulated them would fold the bill of the cap and stash it in a rear pocket when donning a batting helmet. That was cool.

  10. I still bend my bills. Straight bills look silly.

  11. very nice! I find myself still bending the bill when sporting a baseball cap. It’s almost a reflex, as if I’m trying to wear-in the cap. You brought me back to another era – thank you!

  12. Bending, rolling and reshaping makes perfect sense to me. I can’t fathom the leaving the giant silver-circle size sticker on the brim.

  13. Pingback: Remember Snap Bracelets? | Schlabadoo

  14. Hank

    Really enjoy your writing! I have never accustomed to wear baseball caps, but I do remember the days when it was cool to bend the bills.

  15. I remember the guys bending the bill around a baseball (appropriate huh??) and then wrapping it with a few heavy duty rubber bands. Worked great!

  16. Wait, that’s not cool anymore? Crap.

  17. I still bend my bills a lot on my throwback 47 brand franchise MLB caps, and wear them up high so that my hair (bangs) show. I work at the Boys & Girls Club so I see newer fashion trends every day. Being a ’90s kid myself, some of the new trends I see, such as those Monster energy drink logo hats, baffle me. The other day, a few of my kids said that I looked like a redneck and like an “awkward tourist” wearing my cap like that… I told them that it won’t be long until that style comes back around! Anyway, great article. I’ll be sure to share with my friends.

  18. cincoflex

    My dad told me that a rolled baseball cap was because players used to roll them to stuff into their back pockets. He also added that a lot of farmers rolled their brims to help keep their hats from blowing off when they were out in the fields.

  19. Still cool. Functional. Anyone with a flat bill is most likely a child or a tool.

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