John Beare, original member of @CrewEra13 has an office dedicated to his shrine of New Era hats he’s collected over many years. Preferring fitted hats, non of his prized possessions are up for borrowing, trades or sale and that’s completely understandable. John really took the time to provide some in-depth concise responses to the answers we provided him so make sure you don’t miss out on his insight to the cap game. What’s on your mind? Want to show off your collection – hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: John Beare
Where are you from? High Desert in Southern California
Social handles: interstate19 on both Twitter and Instagram
How did collecting get started for you?
My love of caps began with my father, who was rarely without one. He wasn’t a collector, but I think just in wanting to be like him I went through phases growing up in the 80s where I would wear hats. My first fitted onfield caps were mainly of the teams I followed, the California Angels and Colorado Rockies. I also had a fitted Florida Marlins cap because the all teal expansion cap looked cool to me. I also had a couple of minor league hats. Lake Elsinore Storm, original logo from when they were an Angels affiliate, and a New Haven Ravens because they were an affiliate of the Rockies. This was around 1995 and I didn’t really consider myself a collector at that point.
In 1996 I somehow managed to get a StarStruck catalog, which had photos and listings of pretty much every sports cap New Era made. I ordered three which were not caps I would have ordinarily even known existed. It was pretty cool to have a hat that nobody in my area had seen before. One of them was the independent St. Paul Saints, which to this day remains one of my all time favorite caps and logos. Collecting kind of started from that point. In the early 2000s I started attending more minor league baseball games, and with the availability of hats from various websites and auction sites, that’s the point where I found I really enjoyed collecting. I’ve never looked back.
Crew Era 13, how much fun was the experience for you?
Wow. Even more than six months later it still resonates with me to a degree where I almost can’t believe it happened. The morning I got the invitation via email, I sent a text to Benjamin Christensen (fellow CrewEra13 member @shakabrodie) asking if he had gotten one as well. He hadn’t checked, but indeed he had. I almost didn’t go because I didn’t think I’d be able to get the time off from work, but Ben and a few others I told said if I didn’t go I’d regret it for the rest of my life. Fortunately I made the right choice and went on the trip to Buffalo.
I had never been that far east before so it was exciting being in a part of the country I’d never seen. The hotel was amazing, and the complimentary bags New Era had left for us was incredible. I still had a hard time believing it was happening. The group all met for the first time (minus one who arrived later) in the lobby where we got acquainted. New Era took us to see Niagara Falls, then to dinner where we got to do some more getting to know each other. After dinner we went to Walgreen’s to purchase various adult beverages (since it was a Sunday night and everything was closed) and we concluded that first night in a courtyard at the hotel really bonding and getting know each other. Talking hats and sneakers and just about ourselves and our passion for caps. That first night was when I realized that they really picked the right people to go.
The second day started with a session where we got to talk to some of the New Era HQ people about our love for their product, followed by a trip to Derby to tour the place where the cap making magic happens. We each got a hat made personally by New Era’s “A Team” who produces some of the special caps you see celebrities wear. That was awesome! We also got to spend an hour with a designer where we were able to design our own cap! Truly a unique experience. Some of the guys went all out with theirs. Mine was a very simple design. I knew from the moment we were told about it that I wanted a unique fitted Ottawa Senators cap, so I went with one of the Heritage logos with the 20th Anniversary sidepatch. I absolutely love this cap! And knowing that it’s unique and that I designed it makes it even more special. We also got a $200 shopping spree in the New Era Buffalo Flagship Store. The evening was topped off with tickets to see a Buffalo Bisons baseball game from New Era’s box. It was the ultimate New Era fan experience, and I can’t even imagine that I came so close to declining. Now I’m hoping I get to go back someday!
Honestly though, the best part was how quickly the CrewEra13 guys bonded. Even though Ben and I were the only ones acquainted (and that was only through Twitter) it was like we all knew each other. Those guys are my friends. My fitted brothers. New Era did that. People say “once in a lifetime experience” all the time. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Seems like you have more onfield authentics both MLB or Milb. Why the preference in baseball teams?
For two reasons: One, when I started collecting, I was more of a baseball fan that any other sport. Two, there are so many more baseball teams if you consider Major, Minor and Independent leagues. Plus most teams offer multiple caps, so if there’s a team or design I like, I can have multiple caps from one team. Not to mention, there’s a lot of rebranding that happens over the years. For instance, I have seven different Salt Lake City caps. Eight different San Bernardino caps, and ten caps total from the franchise that started as the Casper Rockies, became the Casper Ghosts and is now the Grand Junction Rockies. And as far as the Major Leagues go, I have well over 30 different Colorado Rockies New Era caps. So just by availability, that’s how that works out. Now that New Era produces NFL caps, that collection is growing as well. I have 10 Seattle Seahawks fitted caps alone. And I’m very proud of my NHL fitted collection. I absolutely love vintage NHL caps, and that takes up a healthy percentage of what I have on the wall.
In one of the photos you set us up with theirs a California Angels game cap in a glass case. What is
special about that hat and what does it mean to you?
This cap is the very first New Era fitted I ever owned. My father bought it for me on my birthday in 1989 while attending an Angels game at Anaheim Stadium. I wore that thing so much the first few years I had it, but I always took care of it. I had it packed up for years, but recently decided that it needed a special place separate from the cap wall. It’s too small to wear, but looking at it is a reminder of where it came from, and the special relationship I had with my father. He’s the primary reason I’m the big sports fan I became. I imagine he’d be very amused if he could see what that one cap turned into.
What we’ve learned from other collectors is that its not the size of your collection but the
personal meaning behind the hats you collect. Do you agree with that, if so why?
I’m sure I wasn’t the first one to say it, but I posted a blog about a year ago that stated this exact sentiment. It just resonates with the real collectors. There are a handful of people who are more concerned with having a large number of hats, or having the most hats and that somehow that makes them the king of collectors. Looking at my collection, I can almost see where and when it was when I got them, or who got them for me, so they represent little moments in time. It’s not like that with all of them, but in a way it becomes very personal and not just a trophy case.
As I got acquainted with more collectors, I noticed a common thread. One person, who I now know well enough to call her a friend, had about 10 caps when we first connected via Twitter. She has about 40 caps now, and the enthusiasm she has about her collection is no different than how I feel about mine, or the people I know who have 150, or 200, or 700. Or like my friend Angel who has over 1300. It’s a passion we all share, and we all respect each other. It’s definitely a sentiment that all of us in CrewEra13 share. We never looked at each other as a number. Collecting is just what we do. And we love it.
Do you have any snapbacks?
I do. Maybe 15 or so on the wall itself. Most of them are vintage minor league caps that I’ve never been able to find fitted versions of. One of them is my Holy Grail cap, which is a team called the Riverside Pilots that played in the California League between 1993 and 1995 before becoming the Lancaster JetHawks. Someday I hope to find a fitted version of it. What kills me is that I had an opportunity to buy this hat fitted several times attending games in Riverside, but decided not to. But that’s another story…
Regarding snapbacks (the old collector in me still refers to them as “adjustables”) they are not my preference by any stretch, and though I’ve been critical of them in the past, I now understand that some people have a preference for them, and if that’s their thing, then more power to them. Just means more fitteds for us.
Where do you normally like to go for your hats?
My favorite place to go is the New Era Flagship Store in Los Angeles. I only get to do that once or twice a year and it becomes an event for me. Locally, I go to Hat Club in Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga. They’ve been really good to me over the years.
As I built my collection in the 2000s, eBay was huge. I’ve found some great pieces there. One of the websites I like to browse is ecapcity.com. I’ve gotten a lot of my vintage NHL caps from there. They do some great customs as well. For a tremendous selection of Cooperstown Collection caps, mickeysplace.com is great site.
What’s your most favorite New Era you’ve seen released by the brand since you’ve started collecting?
I don’t really have a favorite release, but when it was announced that New Era had acquired the rights to produce NFL caps I was very excited. I waited 15 years for that to happen. I do wish they did more with the NHL.
Do you wear a hat everyday?
If I’m not working, I’m wearing a cap. Usually I’ll pack one and take it to work and have it on by the time I’m in the parking lot.
How does it feel walking into your office / hat room when selecting a cap in the morning?
Sometimes I’ll wake up knowing which cap I want to wear. If I have to make a decision in a pinch, it can be overwhelming.
Do people, friends other collectors ever ask you to borrow, trade or buy some of your hats off of you?
I’ve had offers to buy or trade certain caps in my collection. And while I can sympathize with people who find someone who has a piece that they might have been trying to find for ages, none of mine are for sale.
With all those caps, how do you find time to wear them all?
I’ve often considered wearing a different one each day for a whole year. I still wouldn’t get through them all.
What one piece of advice do you have for fellow cap collectors?
Stay true to what you do. Stay committed to the fitted. Don’t let the haters get you down. It’s nobody’s business what you do with your time or money. Always remember there are so many just like you.
What does NewEraCapTalk mean to you?
I’ve browsed those boards for years without participating, I’m ashamed to say. I’ve often wondered how many of those people whose posts I read years ago are people that I talk to on a regular basis now. It’s great knowing that there is a place where collectors can gather and feel like they belong.
Any final words?
I appreciate the opportunity to express myself on this forum. I’ve made so many good friends over the last couple of years from all around the world because we have in common this beautiful accessory that we put on our heads everyday. I am always enthusiastic about sharing my passion for caps with anybody who is interested. It’s a great community to be a part of and I am proud to be one of them. Stay fitted!