It’s a hot day in the heart of New York City. Thirty-Fourth Street and Seventh Avenue to be exact. But inside the Modell’s on the corner, its air-conditioned and well-stocked with jerseys, shirts and caps. In particular New Era caps, which are the official hats of Major League Baseball and which stand prominently against the far wall and are most popular. This holds true for a tall, young man, casually dressed but with a fashion sense who is sporting a New Era cap with the letters L.E.S. emblazoned across the front. He is Dellin Betances, New York Yankee three-time All-Star pitcher and he’s here sharing a favorite topic of his. Yes, we are referring to caps.
Dellin understands that the cap completes the attire as much as a tie would for a shirt. It’s important to match them correctly to the choice of outfit on any given day.
“I have to wear it to play and at the same time I love to wear it fashionably wise,” Betances explained, “Depending what shoes or clothes I’m wearing I try to go with different hats.”
As brand ambassador of New Era for the past three years, Betances takes his role seriously but at the same time it’s a labor of love. He knows his head wear and his love for caps goes beyond the sport of baseball. As a self-professed fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and basketball hats in general he has a collection of Laker, Knick, and Bull caps. His love of the color red makes Chicago caps a priority.
“I enjoy wearing basketball snapback hats,” Betances said, “I like black and red. I try to switch up according to the shoe I wear.”
Betances, who is of Dominican descent, is a New Yorker by birth and though he loves the style of his head gear, like anyone else he has his go-to cap. In his case though it’s a special made one which represents his home turf.
“My wear out cap is one I designed myself. It’s a Lower East Side cap,” Betances said, “It’s where I grew up. It’s just a Blue Navy cap snapback. I enjoy wearing that as much as I can.”
The journey of a player can be reflected in the caps he wears over a career if it has some length. Betances played for several minor league clubs before landing with the Yankees. The stopovers included Staten Island, New York, Charleston, Tampa, and Trenton, NJ. Betances still keeps many of those hats from those years.
“I still have hats at home that I like,” Betances said, “They always gave us great hats. That’s the thing about New Era. They are very well-coordinated. They keep you flashy on the field.”
The breakdown of a cap varies from player to player and says much about the personality of that athlete. Betances is pretty simplistic in this respect however he an appreciation for the variety of cap styles New Era brings to the table.
“I wear a normal cap. I like to keep my brim a little flat,” Betances said, “But with the Yankees they complain a little bit so I bend it a little and try to wear it everyday and I guess with my play it breaks it in nice. The good thing about New Era they keep us wearing different kinds of hats making us look good on the field and off.”
The Subway series is coming to a close and much has changed in two years with the Yankee youth movement. Betances on a typical Yankee team of the past would be, at 29, one of the youngest. But with the emergence of the baby bombers, he is suddenly a grizzled veteran.
“It’s weird. I still consider myself young. I’ve been playing a lot longer than many of these guys,” said Betances, “It’s an exciting time. I’m excited to be part of this transition. The fans get to see a new wave group.”
Dellin Betances nearly twenty years ago watched David Wells perfect game from the bleachers of the old Yankee Stadium. His recent accomplishment, an immaculate inning, a relievers form of perfection, is somewhat rare as only 84 pitchers have done this.
“That was strange. It was very special. Anytime you can do anything that’s in the record books is an honor for me,” Betances said, “Its always been my dream to be a Yankee. It’s the team I cheered for growing up. It’s very special.”
One thing we know is that after his career is over and he comes back for special event days at the Stadium, another nine-year old will be sitting in the bleachers and think. “Yes, Dellin Betances was a great player, but he also has stylish caps.”