What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the classic baseball cap? Its curved brim? The game itself? Or, how about its green underside? Having graced us with their presence since the 80s, green underbrims were, and still are, nothing unordinary. Truth be told, though, not many cap wearers know why this is - by reading on, that will change.
So, why is the underside of a baseball cap green? The underside of a baseball cap is green both for functional and fashion-conscious reasons. Green itself is quite literally a gem of a color, being soothing, relaxing and supposedly able to reduce glare from the sun. It was an obvious choice for those who spent long afternoons surrounded by sunlight.
Although these theories were later questioned, it was too late. Baseball players and their devoted fans, along with the classic caps that sat firmly on their heads, had adopted the color green. In most cases, if you ask someone why the underside of their cap was green, you probably wouldn’t receive an answer - instead, you’d receive a tilt of the head and a shrug of the shoulders. Because quite frankly, people just don’t know. To them, caps have always been green on the bottom, and no one ever questioned it. A few wild myths and theories have travelled from ear to ear, including supposedly scientific ones, but nothing has ever been clarified. So, if you finally want to get some answers to that all-important question, you’d better read on!
Does Science Have Something To Do With It?
Although it’s debated, some people believe a series of scientific studies conducted over the years had their part to play in making underbrims green.
It’s no surprise that the invention of baseball caps came about because of the game, oddly enough. And, considering it would be the players who’d sport them, this form of headwear needed to fulfil its purpose completely. Manufacturers set out to provide the players with a cap like no other - a cap that was not only fashionable, but scientifically beneficial.
During a decade of superstition, sporting theories and fierce competition, many people accepted the idea that baseball caps with green undersides genuinely improved play. Experiments suggested that the color green reduced glare from the sun. So having the undersides of their baseball caps this color was thought to have helped the vision of the players, and subsequently both their hitting and catching accuracy. It was a concept that was widely agreed with, and in most cases, obsessed over. If your cap didn’t have a green underbrim, the odds of your team taking the win were practically halved!
Or, Was Science Contradicting Itself?
Let’s look at this from a slightly more realistic perspective. The legend of the glare-reducing green underside certainly had status, but after years of reflection, some people began to second-guess its credibility.
Take the color gray, for example. Theoretically, it would serve to soak up the sunlight better - even more so than green. Scientific studies did support this, and people started to be swayed in the other direction. Before we knew it, gray underbrims slowly made their debut within the fashion market. It’s also slightly more wearable for the fussier cap wearers. But then, customers began to wonder, where does the color black come into all of this? After all, as the shade that absorbs most light frequencies, wouldn’t black be able to work its glare-reducing magic better than green and gray combined? After this constant back-and-forth deliberation, some people settled with the idea that it really didn’t matter - full stop. Science seemed to change its mind all the time, but to many, it made no difference. Now, green undersides were nothing more than a fashion choice.
Could It Be a Clever Branding Strategy?
New Era were quite possibly the most successful baseball cap designer at the time, making hats for the Major League throughout the 80s. Although the teams might well have had an input and requested green underbrims due to their supposed scientific advantages, it was most likely New Era’s call from a design point of view. And, after this brand’s surge of success, other companies were ready to fling themselves onto the bandwagon of green undersides. Starter, for example, began to feature this and it slowly fell into the hands of other manufacturers, especially those who specialised in replicas. It made the baseball cap identifiable. What brand comes to mind when you think of red bottoms? Exactly. They use this same strategy, and if we’re being honest, it’s a clever one indeed.
What’s So Special About the Color Green?
When you think of the color green, you may picture luscious countryside, freshly cut grass, bundles of dollar bills...whichever way, it tends to be a calming and pleasing color. Although there was some uncertainty regarding the accuracy of the scientific ‘studies’ conducted, it’s a generally accepted that the colour green has a calming effect on people. Maybe this soothing color had a role to play, by keeping players who wore caps calm under pressure?
Although the caps on today’s shelves can be found with both gray and black undersides, it’s undeniable that those which are green have a big presence in the market. Some stores will continue to sell them, as it provides a vintage escape for buyers as a much-desired throwback. For some who are obsessed with baseball, green caps truly are the epitome of the whole experience.
Let’s jump back into history for a moment. The myth of green’s scientific benefits pops up quite regularly throughout the past. It probably stems back to when bankers and accountants, for example, wore green eyeshades and had green shades on their lamps. In situations where people had to rely on their eyes for very long periods of time, small numerical errors were bound to happen. Although little, these mistakes had the potential to cost a company lots of money, Using the color green supposedly reduced eyestrain, especially in harsh lighting conditions - the sort of lighting you’d find in factories, offices, and during baseball games.
In fact, the original color of sunglass tints was green, and this is very much the case today. This is due to its excellent ability to reduce glare, while still allowing the wearer to easily distinguish objects. This may be an origin for the belief that green underbrims on caps would provide the same effect, although the logic for the effect transferring from optical lenses to caps seems a little shaky at best.
Will We Ever Know?
The myth that green undersides can reduce glare is almost as ancient as baseball itself. Like a game of Chinese Whispers, both people and players have offered their own theories over the years, which unfortunately has only complicated the issue! The main goal when using green as the color of an underside is for the wearer not to be distracted by either the brim of their cap or the sun. Some (clever) people have argued that the color gray shows much more variation in lighting conditions, which would actually make it less suitable. The whole idea of green is to allow the wearer to focus their undivided attention on what is ahead of them.
There’s the possibility, of course, that undersides are only green for design purposes. After all, it’s more colorful and slightly more interesting than the standard and arguably dull monotone shades.