It’s pretty fricken ugly as hats go, but I wear it a lot. I found it in my grandma’s garage after she died. It was with a program from the 1967 Major League Baseball All-Star game. The crusty paged magazine was all marked up, in my dad’s writing. He had filled out the entire box score, for 15 innings, using a couple of pages worth of margins to make the extra room. They actually played until one of the teams won the game in 1967. The score was 2-1. I was looking at hand written proof that my dad watched Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Pete Rose, Micky Mantle, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and about 20 other hall-of-famers play baseball in Anaheim, CA when he was 23 years old.
It is hard to imagine my father as a young man. He wouldn’t have had the beard back then, or the grey hair, the wire rim glasses. He told me once that he spent his 21st birthday out to sea, on the U.S.S. Hornet. After his shift in the communications tower, he sat down at the bar in an on-ship restaurant. He ordered french fries and a coke. He hasn’t said it outright, but I’m pretty sure that my dad hated the war. He had friends that died in the war.
So there was this ugly hat sitting right on top of the game program, inside a box that hadn’t been opened for years. The hat is dark blue, with a red bill. There is a CA on the front in fancy embroidered red letters, which was the emblem of the California Angels at the time. The part that caught my eye, and still does, was the silver ring that resembles a “halo,” and circles the entire top part of the hat. Like I said… it’s pretty fricken ugly as hats go. But this hat means something to me, like I know it means something to him. Because it means that he got to spend a summer day, when he may have needed it most, watching 15 innings of baseball.