1995 New Era poster
The crown jewel of my cap poster collection is undoubtedly this amazing New Era cap poster produced in 1995. There are so many quirks to this poster that it would be intriguing for any year, but 1995 was a particularly interesting year for the minors, so this poster couldn’t get much better. I bought it on eBay in 2017, and the seller had two of them for sale. The one I bought was rolled up and in its original shrink wrap, so the condition is essentially perfect. I’ve been keeping it in a tube, but before I took it down, I was able to snap a few photos. I had it in a lower-light spot that is tricky to photograph well without supplementary lighting, so the images are a bit duller than they are in person.
Let’s unpack this puppy and go into some details. There are 156 caps depicted on this poster, though they are of only 155 teams, since one of the teams, the Macon Braves, is depicted twice. Of course, there is one team, the Port City Roosters, that is mysteriously missing. So that means there are indeed 156 teams mentioned on the poster.
Why were there 156 minor league teams in 1995? In that year, there were 28 MLB teams, and at the lower levels, the structure was more haphazard in regard to how many teams per league, or teams per parent club. Add in a a handful of independent teams, and you certainly have a different era in the minors. Heck, there were 32 teams at the Class A-Advanced level in those days.
In order to provide more detailed images of the caps, I took photos of sections of the poster. Unlike most cap posters that are arranged alphabetically, this poster has the caps arranged by MLB parent club. The AL is in the left column and the NL in the right, with the parent club being alphabetically arranged, i.e. Baltimore, Boston, California, etc. Again, my apologies for the image quality–it’s often a trade off between glare and shadow. I’ll have to re-photograph this poster some time.
In this first section, we have the 1995 affiliates for the Orioles, Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, and some of the Indians’ affiliates. Of specific interest to me: Frederick’s realistic eagle logo, Rochester’s short-lived R with giant wings, Utica‘s red U, Lake Elsinore’s original LE with haloed lightning bolt, Prince William‘s fully-depicted cannon, South Bend‘s flash-in-the pan hood ornament on green look, and the Columbus Redstixx‘s pre-fox look.
Moving along, we have the rest of Cleveland, then the Royals, Brewers (AL at the time), Twins, and part of the Yankees’ affiliates. Specific highlights include the iconic Sultans of Springfield and the Hardware City Rock Cats, before they switched to the New Britain place name.
In this next section, there is the rest of the Yankees’ affiliates, plus the A’s, Mariners, Rangers, Blue Jays, and uh…one Pirates affiliate for some erroneous reason. If you look closely, you’ll notice that someone made another error by sticking the Medicine Hat Blue Jays among the Rangers’ affiliates. In this section, we have highlights like Edmonton and Charleston in full teal glory and the short-lived Riverside Pilots with their unique logo featuring a tiny airplane sky-writing the letter R. Below this section is the “Independents,” but we’ll cover that later.
Switching over the National League side, we have the Braves’ affiliates, including Macon mistakenly put on there twice. (who proofed this thing?) Also included are the Cubs and their full COTOB lineup, the Reds’ affiliates, and a few of the Rockies’. Specific highlights include the Orlando Cubs, the Indianapolis Indians’ Bush Stadium 1931-1995 logo, and the seldom-seen Princeton Reds logo, featuring Mr. Red escaping out of a P.
In the next section, we have the rest of the Rockies, plus the Marlins, Astros (then NL), Dodgers, and one of the Expos. Perhaps the proofreader had a Great Fall on their way to work that day, because the Great Falls Dodgers are missing an S. Other highlights include the Charlotte Knights‘ castle-K logo, the Elmira Pioneers in their brief teal-with-bull era, the pinstriped Tucson Toros’ cap, and the San Bernardino arrowhead logo. And the Polecats, because the Polecats are always a highlight.
Next, we have the bulk of the Expos’ affiliates, plus the Mets, Phillies, and Pirates. Highlights include the entire Phillies slate, featuring five COTOBs in a line–Batavia’s converted P to B, Martinsville’s seldom-seen M ball, the Piedmont Phillies in their one pre-Boll Weevil season, and Reading‘s P-makes-R are all pretty special. Plus Calgary‘s short-lived cannon profile and Erie in the New-York Penn League stand out.
Finally, we have the Padres, Giants, and Cardinals. Highlights here are the Bellingham Giants and New Jersey‘s pitching Cardinal logo.
The Weird Stuff
As promised, here is the treasured strip of INDEPENDENTS. I love how New Era threw their hands up with these teams and lumped them all together. First up, we have the brand new Bakersfield Blaze. In their first season, they were basically a “co-op” team, with players from their previous parent Dodgers, as well as (apparently) the Indians, Blue Jays, Astros, and possibly others. For whatever reason, New Era labeled them as a Dodgers affiliate despite listing them as independent.
Then you have a string of Pioneer Leaguers: the Butte Copper Kings and their iconic bearded king logo, the Lethbridge Mounties with their equally-iconic mountie logo, and the still-fresh Odgen Raptors, who would keep that logo for another twenty years or so. At the end of the strip is the Visalia Oaks, who operated independently/co-operatively for a few years in the nineties before linking up with the A’s.
The most striking team, however, and probably the most notable highlight of all the caps is the one-year wonder and very rare non-COTOB Appy Leaguer, the River City Rumblers…er…RAMPAGE?!? This poster is the only time I have ever seen the team called the Rampage, and I wish I knew the answer why. Was Rampage one of the possible names for the team, and New Era jumped the gun before it solidified as Rumblers? Did the poster designer just make another mistake? Was the poster designer playing the video game Rampage on their Sega when they were working on the poster? The world may never know.
It also lists the team as being a Cubs’ affiliate, which is a bit ridiculous. The former Huntington Cubs apparently had nine parent clubs in their one year as the Rumblers.
You would this that this is the most bizarre part of the poster, and maybe it is, but the poster ends with possibly the best fine print ever committed to paper:
Oh, I need to know what happened here. Did the Roosters not submit their materials in time? Did they fail to produce a digital image? Was their realistic Rooster logo too finely-detail for digital rendering with 1995 technology? This is a mystery this is likely to remain unsolved.