Baseball allows for more expression of individual style than many team sports. A player can wear high socks or baggy pants that cover his shoes; he can have all manner of hair hanging out of his helmets/hat; he can (if he doesn’t play for the Yankees) rock some pretty awesome facial hair. There’s lots of time to be silly in the dugout, bullpen, and clubhouse and build a reputation for being a “character.”
You see how it’s spherical, right? Form-fitting? Let’s compare Ichiro’s cap to some of his former Mariners teammates.
Here we see Ichiro flanked by Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley, whose hats don’t look exactly similar to each other, but have more in common with each other than they do with Ichiro’s — namely, they appear more rigid. They project up from the sides of the players’ head in a more vertical fashion, and are more angular.
The same is true of Ichiro’s new teammates on the Yankees:
Have another look at Ichiro in a Yankees cap — if for no other reason than he’s so damn handsome:
That’s simply a hat of a different structure. The way hat looks on a player’s head will be affected by hat size, the shape of a player’s head, his hair, how he bends the hat, etc. But, aside from Ichiro’s, it seams all the hats are of the same consistency and initial shape.
Why does Ichiro don a different style of hat than everyone else? He’s almost certainly requesting it (as opposed to just having it issued to him), which leads me to believe that he’s the only one who really cares about it.
If any of you know of any current (or very recent) players that seems to wear a completely different kind of hat in the field, please let me know. I would like to do further studies in hats! Until then, here’s to Ichiro, a man of sartorial clout!