I recently picked up a game-used Harmon Killebrew hat that I wrote about here, and today I found a little more detail about it. I set out to find anything more that I could about the hat, as it’s undoubtedly the centerpiece of my collection. I’m currently awaiting a surgery and will have plenty of time to research while re-cooperating, and it’s almost cathartic.
So I took a closer look at it today and saw this Wilson tag on the back:
…which got me to thinking, I wonder if there’s anything else here I can find out from Google. The first few results were from the Twins cap manufacturer. Stupid Google, I meant the team! But then I stumbled onto an old Net54 post about manufacturer codes and I was intrigued. I carefully handled my cap and went looking to see if mine had one.
Sure does! So, referring to that Net54 post, with an EZC code would appear that this cap was produced in January of a year ending in ‘2. Assuming true, there’s no dice on singling out an individual year there, as Killer played in both ’62 and ’72. Checking some photos, evidence for each ‘2 year can be found.
This photo courtesy of Getty is from spring training 1962. Just out of view is the button, so I can’t rule whether it had a red, blue or otherwise top. The logo looks right compared to my hat, except the bottom half of the ‘C’ on this photo doesn’t appear to have the same width as the rest of the letter – like my cap. But then again, that’s a really old photo and checking the depth of a stitching is rather difficult – except that the “folds” around the cap look similar to the folds around my cap….
This photo was taken during 1972, again courtesy of Getty images. The green under bill matches my cap, and the C looks similiar, but the arched out font style of the T doesn’t look to match. Harmon seemed to favor an almost 65%/45% fold on his cap as opposed to straight in the center and folded from there – visible in both photos, and my cap.
But then again, here’s a Mears auction for what they deemed a circa 1962 game used cap.
The T in the TC logo stretches out the same as my cap, the C is full throughout the logo, and the cap button is red. The Wilson logo matches mine, but the size is different! 7 1/4 vs 7 1/2, also the ‘3’ on the bottom bill looks to have been written by a different person – perhaps different club house attendants, or Harmon himself? It almost matches this auction’s “mid 1960s” handwriting.
The handwriting on the ‘3’ is more straight then curvy here. However the cap looks almost denim like, whereas mine doesn’t:
However you scrutinize the cap, a few things are almost certain:
It’s authentic to the era – the stitching match compared to similar items from the same era, the manufacturer’s code places it in the right era, and it looks like several that have sold through well respected auction houses. It even smells!
The signature is real – I own several Harmon Killebrew autographed cards, a bat, and a ball. All match up to the signature underneath the cap, Killer was a frequent signer, and a true gentleman to all fans.
It’s provenance is believable – while the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown does NOT sell off pieces, it’s believable that an unscrupulous assistant could have “backdoored” any number of pieces, or during Harmon’s hardships in the 90s, auctioning off items from his playing days – all of which are certainly believable though not definitive.
Whether the hat dates to 1962(the second year of the team’s existence, a year he finished 3rd in MVP voting, and the year he mashed 48 home runs), or 1972(just a year prior having bashed his 500th home run and in the twilight of his career – only hitting 26 round trippers one of only two times in a non-injured season (1968) he’d hit so few since 1958!) – I’m very happy to own this unique piece of Twins history, and happy to share it with everyone. :).