We wanted to begin March off to a great start with our Cap Talk: Whats on Your Mind segment and what better way to do that with no other than headwear honcho, Gary Leach. Gary’s been rocking baseball caps as far back as he can remember. With baseball being one of his biggest passions in life you’ll see how he came about having caps on caps on caps. Gary keeps certain parts of his collection off limits to the public because he doesn’t want to give away all of his collector secrets but we have a feeling that this isn’t the last you’ll here of him. Get an inside look at Gary’s life after the jump! What’s on your mind? Want to show off your collection – hit us up at email@example.com.
Name: Gary Leach Jr.
Where are you from?
I am from Windsor California which is about an hour north of San Francisco and am now living in the next town over of Santa Rosa, CA.
My Social Handles: Instagram: SpikeLeach Twitter: @24HCinc Facebook: Gary Leach My names actually have more meaning than just your random choice of handle…My nickname growing up from my dad was “Spike” he said he started calling me that because I played sports like a wild dog “Spike” being a dogs name I guess, I played with reckless abandon. I was always the guy laying out for balls in the outfield or putting big hits on guys in football. Also, I had a spikey military haircut since we are a AirForce family, and my hair always seemed to be spiked up. My last name is Leach, so it was a natural fit to be SpikeLeach by combinding the two on IG, and in some ways pay homage to Spike Lee who we all know was responsible for the custom New Era Cap game from his request for that red Yankees cap years ago. Who knows where we would be if he had never asked for that custom New Era Cap? We might all be wearing Nike or Adidas On-Fields, it’s really strange to even consider. So thank you Spike Lee! @24HCinc on Twitter is actually a fake buisness name I came up with because the UPS guys were constantly asking me if I owned a sports memorabilia company because all the boxes that arrived daily containing caps. So to make it easier I just started saying yes to that question and my buisness was 24HCinc which stands for Twenty-Four Hat Collecting Inc. and that helped out a bunch…24 is just my old baseball number, so hopefully that clears up some things for those who ever wondered where my goofy social media names came from.
What’s it like being a part of #CrewEra13?
Being part of the CrewEra13 is great! The other 9 guys have truly become my Fitted Family. We all look out for each other and and help each other find caps we might be on the hunt for. And since we are spread out everywhere it really helps because we can get caps from all over the country with ease and my boys in Canada come through aswell. But besides the benefits of having hookups all over including New Era family, we are all really cool with each other and are always chatting by Internet or phone. I feel like I gained real friends with the CrewEra13 and that’s rare in the collecting game. Usually people are cut throat and will do whatever to get what they need but not with these guys. Actually, in general the Hat Game is a whole lot different than the shoe game. I used to collect shoes too but that is just out of control these days! It seems like cap collectors are so much more friendly than shoe collectors, I mean people are literally killing each other for Jordans these days. The hat game is growing really fast and all I can do is pray that it doesn’t get out of control like that.
Your one of the first cap collectors we connected with many years ago. Have you ever completed collecting the entire minor league collection?
I have been collecting caps since around 2004 but I have always had caps since I played baseball through college and even though my career was cut short due to injury I had many friends move on to the big leagues and some just made it to the minors. Collecting their caps is what really got me into collecting seriously. I started to want caps from every friend I had in affiliated ball. Than I would meet other players through my friends and I would want their caps too. HaHa, a vicious cycle! I first came to NewEraCapTalk because I wanted to see if there were any other crazy guys like me since everybody I knew thought I was nuts or OCD for having so many caps. I thought it was great that there were guys talking about caps at all times of the day and night. Plus, I got to see what was new to market on the site and check out caps I might not have known about if it wasn’t for the site. I didn’t say a whole lot on the boards but I always loved seeing what everybody else was interested in and what they wanted to see in the future because alot of times it matched up with what I wanted too.
You have every MLB authentic, turn back the clock, world series patch, all star and 9/11 New Era hats – How long did it take you to collect them all?
I have a ton of caps but I can’t say that I have collected absolutely every MiLB team ever, that is my goal though. MLB caps on the other hand I feel is way smaller in size to collect all of them and I have collected a good percentage of them but I still feel like my purchase list is very long and I have a long way to go before I check every box in my book. That’s part of the fun though, if I already had everything than that would be no fun, it’s all about the hunt and finally getting that one cap you needed or spotting that holy grail!
What are some hats your desperately missing out of your collection?
I personally feel like I am missing so many so it’s hard to say which one I want more than the other. I want them ALL!!! HaHa! But I am really big into patch caps as some of you might have seen already so I feel that the caps I am in desperate need of are mostly all World Series Patch Caps and All-Star Patch Caps. I would like to have a patch cap from every World Series ever played and there are a few years I still need and a few years that don’t exist yet so that will be a great challenge in the future.
Do you only collect MLB authentics or are you into custom colorways and branded hats as well?
A while back I set rules for my collection because it was getting out if hand. The main rules are to stick with anything that has been worn On-Field at least once, so yes, MiLB and MLB Authentics only with the exception of a few. I still allow myself to buy customs but it helps me focus a lot more on my goal of getting all the On-Fields and WS Caps ever made. For example: the Mariano caps or the Chipper Jones retirement cap. Those where never worn On-Field except for the one Mo cap that was worn in one series but I need them in my collection. Also, I am a huge racing fan because my dad used to ride a low level of pro motocross and I used to ride aswell. So I have always been drawn to buying the Supercross podium caps or different racing brands that have their caps made by New Era. So you can see why I set rules to my collection because it really does get out of hand.
Recently you had the honor of being featured by New Era Cap on youtube – tell us about the experience?
Being featured by New Era in the #WearYourAllegiance campaign was pretty awesome all around, anytime you get acknowledged by your favorite company it is a honor. A 6-7 person crew from New Era came out from Buffalo to California and we shot for a entire day, from morning until around 7:30pm. I think I brought out around 500+ caps and just let them set up everything how they wanted around my place. I had shower caps on a few hundred of them for dust covers so that took a bit to get those off and ready to shoot. Than I got all dialed with my mic for sound and we went for it with the question and awnsering in front of multiple cameras. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous but it was still a great time and we ended up laughing and joking through the whole day. It was a experience I won’t ever forget. The Crew had just come from Southern California after shooting a follow up to a commercial for Monday night football. Than after my shoot, they hit up FittedHeads in Chicago, than Ricky Ruby in Atlanta. So it was a long trip for them and they had everything up within a week, pretty amazing! The crazy part was that I had a TON of caps just sitting in boxes that were not ever put out or on film because there wasn’t enough room and they wanted to focus more on my story. I wish there was a way to incorporate my entire collection but that would be a huge headache!
We have to ask, how did they make the doors on the cabinets open like that?
The cabinet shot was done a few different ways. At first they used string to open the doors up without being seen. After we had a little trouble with that we ended up shooting it in reverse. So two of the crew stood on each side and shut the doors at the same time so during editing it looks like the doors magically open behind me. I thought it was a pretty awesome idea and the producer was a great guy all around,very fun to work with.
Would you recommend other cap collectors have a book to record all their hats?
I love my New Era collection log book, it really helps me keep track of what I have so I know what to buy and what not to buy. I would recommend it for people who have a good amount of caps for the same reason I have mine. It’s come in pretty handy, I guess it’s just like being able to take inventory in a store. When you hit a certain point it’s just a necessity.
What was your first ever New Era hat?
My first New Era hat was a Boston RedSox Fitted that my mom took me out to get when I was a young guy in little league. I remember the RedSox caps in little league were so bad and just had a felt B on them. I wanted to wear what the pros wore so I begged to get it forever and I finally got it and it actually made it so the rest of the team went out a purchased RedSox Fitteds because all the other players wanted what I had, I’m sure the parents really loved me for that one.
How many caps would you say you have in total?
I was over a thousand caps a few years back but than I let my friends go on a shopping spree at my place to pick out anything they wanted that wasn’t Authentic and some doubles of Authentics. I just gave them all away to them for free because that’s what friends do right. HaHa! So that dropped me to about 800 Caps or so. I am not sure of my exact current count because I am way behind on my log book, orders have been coming in way too fast lately but I would say I am definitely back over a thousand again.
Do you wear every cap in your collection?
Yes I do wear every cap in my collection, I pull out a few boxes of fitteds at a time and put them into rotation and switch once I have gone through each cap. The best part about that is finding a old cap that I might of forgotten about. That’s one of the reasons I like chatting with guys on IG because they might post a cap I forgot I had or remind me about a cap and I will pull it to wear and fall in love with it all over again.
What is your all time favorite New Era release?
My favorite New Era Cap of all time is a patch cap…It’s also my holy grail cap! It’s the Seattle Mariners(Ken Griffey Jr.)1999 All-Star Game Patch Cap. I love it because that year the All-Star caps had each players signature on the patch which was embroidered and not heat sealed like today’s patch caps. That game was at Fenway which is my favorite park so that’s a added bonus. I really like all the players caps from that All-Star game but since Griffey was my favorite player growing up it just makes it that much better. I have never been able to find one in my size and at this point I would take any size, I just need it and want it!
What does NewEraCapTalk mean to you?
NewEraCapTalk means alot to me actually, I think it’s a great way to bring guys together that have the same passion for collecting and caps. It’s a great place to be able to ask those questions that nobody else on any other site would be able to answer but you can ask them here and have your best shot at getting help with whatever you needed. It’s just a great place to see what’s happening with caps, no matter if you are into Cartoon caps or Authentic Baseball caps.
What one piece of advice do you have for fellow cap collectors?
One piece of advice I have is just to stay humble, I know guys have said it before but it’s so true. Nobody wants to hear how much better they are than you. If you are the king of caps than let your collection speak for itself because there is always someone out there with more caps and way more money than you. Just have fun with it because that’s how it’s supposed to be. It shouldn’t turn into a job or competition because that takes away all the fun. I love talking to guys that have a dozen great caps over someone that has two thousand caps but is way too cool to acknowledge that you exist. We are all just New Era fans so we might as well use our passion to help each other out. Sounds pretty corny but it is so true!
Any final words?
Final words…Ummm? Stay Fitted and I want to see each and every one of your collections so hit me up whenever on IG or Twitter and chat with me if you want. If you have any questions or need any help with a cap I am always checking my phone so I will do my best to help you out. Thanks for reading my little story and I hope you like my collection half as much as I do. I will have some absolute gems to share with you all very soon so stay tuned!