Sunday, June 29, 2008

In Defense of the "Pink Hats"

It has become fashionable to bash the "Pink Hats", whom I will define as the "bandwagon class" of Red Sox Nation.

According to Kate Jackson "Next to Yankees caps and Giants jerseys, the pink Red Sox cap has become the most polarizing piece of clothing a Bostonian can wear." She argues that the pink hat generation simply hasn't suffered enough.

That reasoning pervades many arenas. Old time physicians who took call every second or third evening and who worked 100 hour weeks in training argue that younger trainees don't pay the dues that they did. Some military veterans argue that the armed forces have watered down recruit training (boot camp) to accommodate the younger generation. Even my children lament the reading, long hours, and tests challenging them in college? Who knew? I don't remember studying hard or taking tests in college?

Maybe people have forgotten the old saying "Baseball is too much of a game to be a business, and too much of a business to be a game." For professional sports owners, merchandising team loyalty is a dollars and sense business. Surely not every Red Sox fan is a Fever Pitch Ben Wrightman clone, but many of us own Red Sox jackets, hats, sweat shirts, T-shirts, wastebaskets, and more. Don't we?

"Victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan." Right? The Red Sox success has spawned its own literature in the wake of the conversion of the franchise from bedraggled to champion that began in 1967 with Carl Yastrzemski and "The Impossible Dream". The Red Sox streak of 388 consecutive Fenway sellouts coming into 2008 is proof enough of that conversion.

For me, the Pink Hats only represent another means of telling the world "I am part of something bigger than myself." They also symbolize a shared passion throughout the region. Whose food doesn't taste better and water cooler conversation go better than after a Sox win. Heck, you could even get a free iced coffee or tea at Double D's after a win.

For those indignant at the Pink Hats, how much suffering is enough? Did you hear the Red Sox games during middle school on the intercom? Did you watch Lou Brock run wild against the 1967 Sox and see Jim Lonborg never stand so tall? Did you have to watch the seventh game loss to the Big Red Machine after Fisk's Fair Pole shot? Do you have Bill Buckner's picture tacked onto your dart board, or a Grady Little voodoo doll? Have you ever heard of Don Buddin, Bob Tillman, or John Wyatt? Who died and made you King Fan?

The Pink Hats are simply part of the evolution of Red Sox Nation from the dark days antedating the tectonic shift of 1967 to the Apocalypse of 2004. Their loyalty and their dollars fueled the Sox' championship crowning achievement only made possible through combining Big Market royalties with smaller market smarts. The Pink Hats help the Red Sox 'overpay' for vital cogs in the machine while transitioning to accelerating player development with younger players with critical contribution at 'bargain' prices.

Pink may make you see red, but be sure that Sox ownership sees not pink, but green.

22 comments:

Soxlosophy said...

The Good Ol' Days typically never existed. In my view, pink hat bashing is more about discomfort with the new Sox post-mentkiewicz identity than anything else.

Identities are often formed by carving out an Other. Having vanquished the yankees and won rings, Sox fans can no longer define themselves by contradistinction to the Evil Empire. Fearing becoming smug entitled yankee fans, they disinguish, however artificially, between the suffering iniates who deserved those championships, and those who don't.

But of course the business end of the team makes no such distinction; every dollar has paid it's dues, as far as they're concerned.

Anonymous said...

You are missing the point. The point isn't the hats themselves. The term "Pink Hat" refers not to someone's clothing. Instead it describes someone who goes to a game but doesnt even care about the game and instead spends the whole game on their phone, talking about everything other than baseball, doing everything except paying attention to the game. They might as well be at a bar. The frustration is that these people buy all the tickets so that those of us who do actually want to watch the game can't get in to Fenway.

Anonymous said...

Furthermore, to Anonymous' point, We as fans hated Yankee fans because they were spoiled and jaded. It seemed like even the once hard-core fans werent big followers of the team, rather casual ones.

Looking at the 'pink hat' crowd is like looking at a casual, arrogant Yankee fan circa 2000.

Seeing that in our own fans is what drives us mad. Alas, it was inevitable.

Anonymous said...

If the negativity about the pink hats is not really about the hats themselves then why call them the pink hats? Every team has band wagon fans. There will always be band wagon fans. Haven't you seen the past two games in Tampa? Where did all those Rays come from? I believe the major issue is that a lot of true fans are being priced out of going to Fenway these past several years. Don't blame those in attendance. Blame the people who buy the tickets as an investment and companies like stub hub who allow people to sell their tickes at over 100% face value.

Barb said...

I am 55 years old and have been a fan since 1958...age 5 for those of you who can still do the math without a calculator (of course I can't SEE the calculator without my glasses...but I digress). Yes, I was one of the 8,327 at Fenway on opening day 1967, and to see the last out of the 1967 World Series with lots in between. I was also at a plethora of games in 1966 and before when you could walk up to the box office the day of a game and get a great box seat behind home plate. But who cares and blah blah blah. I don't think anyone who knows me would challenge my "fanhood" and I do understand the "symbolism" of pink hats. However, I have 2 pink hats, I like pink hats and I will wear my pink hats to Fenway, on the road and in my neighborhood. Could we worry more about the Sox beating the Rays and less about the color scheme of fan attire?

tomgreff said...

I'm 50 and have been a Red Sox fan since 1966. My daughters have pink hats which they wear when we go to the Fens. I have no problem with the hats or other Red Sox hats or shirts unless they are ofensive in language.

I get a new hat every year (sometimes several when we are in the playoffs and series) and this year it's a red hat with the regular B. Not regulation, but not offensive. As a big Sox fan in NJ. I'm glad to see any Red Sox hat instead of a Yankees hat.

Go Sox!

Anonymous said...

You need to at least wear something that is in the team's color scheme. The color is just as important if not more as the letter on the front. I'd rather see a sea of red and blue at Fenway than pink. Even green is somewhat acceptable. You don't go to a Celtics game and wear a purple shamrock. If you want to support your team, you wear the team colors. Pink, urban camo, and powder blue have nothing to do with the Red Sox.
Even high school teams understand the concept of team colors. The school is decorated in the team colors for homecoming. The varsity jackets are in the team's color. You paint your face with the team's colors. The cover of the yearbook often the teams colors.
It's a simple concept that carries some tradition. By wearing a pink hat it gives the impression that you are new to these simple concepts that any sports fan should be able to understand.

Anonymous said...

"Even green is somewhat acceptable. ... Pink, urban camo, and powder blue have nothing to do with the Red Sox."

What a contradiction !! I find the green RS gear more offensive than pink to be honest.

Actually, I don't think this whole discussion has anything to do with colors, but as someone already stated, the term 'pink hat' refers to those less than hardcore fans who give the rest of us a bad name.

Anonymous said...

In response to the comment from 9:34 AM today, a reminder that I have witnessed men in blue caps at a game and do everything but watch the game - they talk to their neigbors about their wives/girlfriends/kids, kitchen appliances, jobs, etc. Meanwhile, my friends and I are focused on the field, saying little, except about the game in front of us. So, can we stop using the term Pink Hat to describing the fan who does not pay attention to the game, last time I checked they were wearing hats of all colors and types.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you haven't noticed, but there is a lot of green at fenway and they actually have a green uniform they wear at least once a year. Take a look at the mascot. Wally is green for a reason. He's a green monster...get it. When you think of Fenway the first color you think of is green, not pink. Green is obviously in the Sox's color pallet. To say green is less acceptable than pink is the exact reason why people hate the pink hat fans and assume they have jumped on the bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

Here is a working definition of the term "pink hat" (and it has NOTHING to do with color-scheme):

"Where are our seats"?
"Behind home plate".
"Will we be on TV? I'll have to call EVERYONE I know, so they can SEE me!!! Who is playing?"
"Baltimore".
"Against who, silly....."?

Anonymous said...

I miss the days when true fans would chant F*** the yankees, when we were playing the Tigers. When an opposing teams fans feared entering the gates of Fenway. The days when the person sitting next to you actually new the starting line up.
I hate it when fans don't know about the history of the Sox. They can't tell me why theres a lone red seat, or who the old guy is in the dug out and why thats his pole.

Those are the days I miss.

Anonymous said...

Boston is full on gen y college age students, many from backwater no sports towns, who either go to school there or after going to school there like the town and stay there, so are ripe to jump on any bandwagon. They have not been there for the low lites. I have been there since the first time in 1960, no phones, no jumbotron, no monster seats, no mascot, just people wanting to watch in their blue caps, and enjoy baseball; a lot listened to the transistor radio and kept score; do you think these people even know what a scorecard is ??
The only benefit of these people is that they fund the team spending with their ridiculous spending; but as soon as the team loses its panache, they'll be gone.....true fans will wait outlast them......any more series like the disgrace of this Rays series will lose some of them......

Jerry Adair's poolboy said...

The pink hat fans are just a new breed of fan cultivated through the increased exposure of baseball through cable and internet. It's all about commercialism of sport. I miss the days when a baseball card might have the guy's "winter job" and a little cartoon of a guy in a suit on the back of the card. I don't begrudge the Pinkie's their affair with "my" Red Sox...but I might ask if they know what significance Pumpsie Green has...or if they can ever think of Sparky Lyle without thinking about Danny Cater. Oh well, I've outlived the Curse...I have tee-shirts and hats what say WORLD CHAMPIONS ... but I still wear my standard Sox hat more than just about any other.

BTW: I needed a cap for pheasant hunting and I found a blaze orange hat and put The B on it. The day I started wearing it when the Sox were down 2 games to none to the Yanks in '04. It has since become my fav of all hats

Chad said...

At first I was getting a little irked by all the bandwagon fans. "Where were you when they weren't winning?" I'd ask. You've got to give it a little more thought here. Like the article said we might not have those consecutive sell outs if not for the pink hats. Don't forget... do you know what pink hats do? they BUY MERCHANDISE! That gives the FO freedom to make oops's like Clement, Lugo and Renteria. They also pay for JD's contract. With that being said I embrace the pink hats!

Dan Hoard said...

There is a "Pink Hat" fan in the NESN booth. If a Red Sox hitter makes the second out of an inning while advancing a runner from second to third, he refers to it as a "productive out." If a Red Sox player had two singles and grounded into a force-play in a game, he notes that the player was "on base three times."

If you don't understand why those statements are incorrect you are a Pink Sox fan, just like Orsillo.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 9:43 a.m. has hit the nail on the head. It isn't about the color of the hat. It's about the behavior of the "fans" wearing the fashionable Sox gear complete with babydoll tanks, rhinestones and "Hello my name is Papelbon's Girlfriend" t-shirts, and boys size jerseys so they are nice and tight. My friends and I who can only get afford to get tickets to one game a year (if we're lucky) call these people "Wasted Tickets." They sit there primping in the bleachers in mini-skirts and flip flops on a chilly April evening up and down the aisle carrying as many beers as they can carry taking up seats that real fans can't get.

Kevin said...

Anonymous @ 10:29PM: I believe some of those fans you're insulting are also trespassing on your lawn; you may want to tell them to get off of it.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of people wearing red and blue who don't know anything about the game and who don't pay attention. Real fans don't have to criticize "pink hat fans" in order to justify their loyalty to the Red Sox. It's foolish to spend this much time talking about this subject.

Anonymous said...

This is more about the attitude towards "new" fans than it is about hat colors. I don't like the pink hats either, but it's hardly worth getting worked up over. Even if someone jumps on the bandwagon now, it doesn't mean they won't become life long fans. Of course some won't, but some of them actually will learn about the players, rules, etc.... We all had to start sometime and not everyone was brought up hearing about the Sox or seeing their games.

Anonymous said...

While I will probably never buy a pink (or purple) hat for any of my loved ones, I will pose this question: Sox fans, how much better does everyone look with that spikey B on their hat or shirt? Girls become immediately sexier (in my opinion) when they have my favorite team's logo on their body. Ladies, I don't know if the same is true for you of guys, but if so, then that's my point. Even a casual fan is a fan. I live in Charleston, SC and have to go to the Charleston Beer Works (the Sox bar in Charleston...On King St. just past Anne St for anyone who visits) to watch games. And, yes, there are a lot of casual fans around, but I always just see the casual fan as a challenge. Can I make them care? Can I steer them to live and die with each pitch as I've done for the last 22 years? I have nothing against the pink hats. As long as they'll join in when I talk about Giambi's mustache actually being Jeter's pubes stuck to his face because he spends so much time down there, I like 'em.

Janet said...

Okay I've always hated the pink hat because I'm not fond of the color pink and I believed that the team colors were more appropriate. I got rid of a pink hat given to me as a gift in favor of my old blue and red one. However, now that I have a baby daughter I've changed my tune a little. We have received pink Red Sox onesies, bibs, blankets, and hats for her. I have to admit, she looks pretty darn cute in the stuff. So I've decided pink is good for babies!