2003 MiLB cap poster



This cap poster popped up on eBay a few years ago, and I pounced on it because I had been looking (and continue to look) for cap posters in five-year increments leading out from my 1998 Star Struck poster. I had no idea that this 2003 poster existed until it was listed, so that was certainly a moment of serendipity. The poster was produced by Minor League Baseball itself, and there’s even a URL for the MiLB website, which must have been very rough-looking in 2003. Probably because the league has unfettered access to the digital logo renderings, this cap poster is very sharp-looking and is closer in quality to the cap posters that came out in the following decade than those from the Nineties–despite being made only a few years into the new millennium. I have a 2013 cap poster, and it is very similar to this one.

One thing that I appreciate about this poster is that it is from an era where I paid no attention to the minors (or sports in generally, really) so for me, it’s a window into the unknown. The early aughts were a time of major changes in the minors, when each year would produce 6-11 defunct identities and the structure  of the minors was becoming stricter. At each level from Class-A full season up to Triple-A, each MLB team now had only one affiliate. There are an even 160 teams on this poster, as there would be for the ensuing decades.

Despite my on-the-dull-side photos, this is a high-quality poster with bright colors printed on paper with a glossy finish. As you can see, the caps are turned slightly in a style that MiLB posters would continue for years afterward. It makes the caps look more like 3-D baseball caps, but since the logos are front facing, it give a slightly-off look to each image. Furthermore, the added space makes the caps crammed right in there–almost on top of each other. The clarity of the renderings does make up for these minor deficiencies.

I’ve selected 30 individual images from the poster to view in more detail. There isn’t any particular formula for these selections, but the best way to say it is that these are teams or cap designs that are specifically notable for the time period. I’ll give the same disclaimer that I give for most images of memorabilia in the MLG cave. The lighting isn’t always the best and I’m not exactly a professional photographer.

I hope you enjoy this romp through the year 2003!



Highlights and curiosities


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This was the first year of the Isotopes, right after they moved from Calgary. The since-abandoned yellow elements are most likely a nod to the Simpsons.
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A short-lived and rarely-mentioned Midwest League team from Cereal City, Michigan.
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As best as I can tell, the Mustangs wore this intense horse logo from 2000-2005.
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I believe the Hawks wore this weird flattened B from 2002-2006.
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Before the Ghosts, Casper was briefly a COTOB.
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This logo carries a tinge of sadness, as it was used only during the final few years of the Trappers.
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The later years of the Diablos–when they were a D’Backs affiliate. This chili pepper logo would later be used when the Diablos were a Vampire Identity in the independent leagues.
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Even by minor league standards, the exhaling baseball is a truly bizarre logo.
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Wow. The Aughts-era revived Friar and a brownish (burgundy?) bill, despite San Diego having largely abandoned brown by then. I’m so glad this identity existed, even if only for a few years.
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The Captains logo from their Sally days. Mascots with bushy mustaches started to become a thing around this time.
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The crudely-drawn tornado ball is always worth mentioning.
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Just another Appy League team that had only a narrow window of existence.
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This version of the A’s elephant was introduced only a few years before we lost the Modesto A’s. After 2004, Oakland switched affiliates and Modesto went Nuts.
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I love the early Pelicans logo and colors. Check out that batting stance.
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This is notable for the bill, which is orange instead of the iconic Navigator purple. I assume this was because of the Giants affiliation at the time.
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The O-Royals had a lot of logos over the years, and this briefly-used golden O is probably the easiest to forget.
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Latter-day Lynx logo. Kind of sad in the same way the Trappers’ logo is. The minors need more Canada!
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An evil-looking version of the parent club mascot, but with some cultural appropriation thrown in. Yikes. Luckily, the dalmatian came quickly and stuck around even when the Cardinals returned.
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I always think of this version of the Beavers as being in blue, but they wore red in the early days of their return.
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A wine-colored cap in the brief time between Prince William and the P-Nats.
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Short-lived Appy identity, with a play on the short-lived Jays logo of the time. Nice touches: the ball hovering inside the P and the Virginia state shape tattoo replacing the maple leaf.
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It never ceases to amaze me that there was once a team in Provo, Utah.
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This was the Double-A Texas League version of the Express, before they were “promoted” the Pacific Coast League.
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Despite being less regionally-relevant (are there really avalanches in the southern Appalachians?) the Carolina League club deserved praise for taking on a derivative nickname in the 90s as a Rockies affiliate. It made less sense in Astros red.
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This was the season that the Waves were in Columbus, GA, shortly after their move from Albany, GA, where they used the same branding. They were the Wilmington (NC) Waves in 2001 and had the same caps. That logo makes me feel a little seasick.
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This is Gordy the Gecko canoodling with the Boston-esque S.
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I love the crude early version of the Smokies bear. He looks a bit unhinged.
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Yep, bushy mustaches on Caucasian mascots was definitely becoming a thing. (decided not to crop out the Wranglers, ’cause that nineties-era logo is pretty sharp, too.)
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All hail the chocolate bear! I used to see this logo as the bear having a double-chin instead of an arm curling around. Or is it a double-chin after all?






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