Bay Area-based New Era enthusiast Sam the Rebel is a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan who wears his allegiance proudly to the team – with a massive collection of Giants caps to prove it! Recently, Sam and his homie, the Brim Reaper, cooked up a fresh catch of limited New Era collaborative “Crazy Crab” 59FIFTY caps, which many people were looking to get their claws on. The hats were a popular item amongst the New Era cap collecting community, selling out in no time, just like hot crab caps should! But the Crazy Crab logo isn’t just a random design. The mascot actually has a long and infamous history with the San Francsico Giants. So, peep our Cap Talk interview with Sam the Rebel, to discover the origins of the Crazy Crab. Find out how Sam became such a die-hard Giants fan and, also, check out his incredible New Era collection that most SF Giants fans wish they had. What’s on your mind? Want to show off your collection? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Media: IG and Twitter @SamTheRebel
You are a big fan and supporter of the San Francisco Giants. How did you develop such a strong sense of loyalty to the team?
Growing up in the Bay Area in the late 80’s early 90’s, more specifically, 1989, when the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics met in the World Series, you were either a Giants Fan or an Athletics Fan. Believe it or not, friendships were made and lost over which team you sided with and funny enough, those bonds or lack thereof traveled with you to high school and further. I have family that lives in San Francisco and I’ve always loved the city. It makes it hard to not love a team with so much history. The Giants were always considered the underdog, and at that time the Athletics had an All Star roster from Canseco to McGuire to Henderson to Eckersley. I didn’t mind. Being a Giants fan meant I could easily get a good trade on baseball cards from A’s fan classmates, back when kids were consumed with collecting cards. The Athletics would then go on to sweep the Giants in 4 games. Before the start of Game 3, the Bay Area experienced a huge 6.9 Earthquake, and was live broadcasted as pregame commentary was going on. Going into high school, our colors matched the Giants (Orange and Black) so it went together really well.
You recently released your first custom New Era collaborative cap, The Crazy Crab 59FIFTY (which features a logo that has a lot of meaning to Giants fans.) As a New Era enthusiast and SF Giants fan, how did this feel?
Well, being that it’s my first custom cap, San Francisco Giants related, and a piece of history that actually most San Francisco Giants fans don’t know too much about, it was like a dream come true, as cliché as that sounds. I’ve been a fan of New Era caps since I was a kid. I have portrait studio pictures from when I was about 13 years old wearing a suit and a Yankees cap that my aunt from New York sent me, which was probably my first fitted that I can remember having. Throughout high school, I always had a hat on whenever I was able to get away with it and was always particular about my caps. Having a cap custom made and seeing people wearing that cap is a weird but awesome experience. It’s hard to say what is the better feeling, having a cap that I designed come to fruition or seeing the desire to own it from others in our cap community.
Tell us about the origins of the Crazy Crab.
Well in 1984 (the year San Francisco also hosted the mid summer classic) a lot of teams were adopting the idea of having a mascot, and San Francisco Giants fans were for the most part against the idea. Regardless, The Crazy Crab was created and in my opinion was the best idea given the Giants finished their season dead last in the division with a disappointing record of 66-96. Faithful fans were in a way, given an instrument to channel their frustrations through, being that this wonderful satirical foam crustacean was by design, to be hated, to be an anti-mascot. Unlike the mascots of today that roam the stadium all game, The Crazy Crab would make an appearance late in the game to be boo’d and pelted with various things from the crowds and players alike. The Crazy Crab would last just one year but there have been random sightings of the crab at the ballpark. The organization www.rehabthecrab.com helps keep the history alive in hopes that the Giants would bring back the crab more often.
What was your inspiration and creative process in designing the Crazy Crab 59FIFTY?
I never really knew the extent of people that collected caps let alone thought there would be a huge community like NECTalk, and in discovering that, I was able to see pictures and discovered the story and members of the group #CrewEra13. Through their documented experience to “The Motherland” (lol) I noticed that they were given the experience to design and have produced a cap of their concept. So I asked myself, what would I design and want to see made. I remembered seeing a cool Lou Seal cap (Mascot for the San Francisco Giants) that were made for infant or toddlers head size and thought, I’d totally wear that, why don’t they make mascot caps for adults, there are enough mascots in the league, I think New Era is over looking this untapped possibility. Then I remembered the Crazy Crab and knew that would be exactly what I would want, regardless if I came out with it or someone else did. It was a cap I would want and would want doubles of, especially because of the history and it was the type of cap that people would notice and have questions about. In designing it, I wanted to keep it as close as I possibly could to the caps worn on the field by players in 1984. Black upper brim and Gray under brim was pretty close to being the standard around the league. Orange button on top that matched the San Francisco Giants interlocking SF. No “Batter Man” (MLB Logo) on the back of the cap. Main differences to the time correct cap worn on field are the materials used on the crown and brim (100% Polyester used instead of wool that was used at the time) and the upgraded sweatband.
How do you feel the Crazy Crab 59FIFTY was received by New Era collectors/enthusiasts and Giants fans?
At first, when playing with the idea, not even fully sure that I’d be able to design such a cap, I showed a couple people the design and Danny (Dionic Design) was a huge supporter as well as fellow Giants fan and CrewEra13 member Gary Leach (SpikeLeach). After that, I knew that I had to follow through with it. Next, I went through design, color way and the final approvals. I put out the pictures to people that followed me on Instagram and didn’t hash tag anything on the post. I wasn’t sure if I could sell 18 caps but within 30 minutes I was able to fill 25 spots and thought I should limit it there. After the cap arrived, I posted pictures and a lot of people loved it and probably could have filled a lot more spots than I imagined. People have been asking if there will be another run and that might just have to be something to be considered. I’ve been talking about the same logo but with a few variations to distinguish it from the original 25.
We see from your New Era collection that you’re a big SF Giants fan and you #WearYourAllegiance to the team. Do you mainly collect Giants caps? How many caps do you have in your collection? What are some of your favorites?
Through my experiences with the great group of people I’ve had the opportunity to follow through social media, I’ve learned that there is no universal way of collecting or buying caps. The closest thing to that are rules that some of us make for ourselves (or else things get pretty expensive pretty fast). For me, I specifically collect Giants caps. On fields primarily, but also vintage and a lot of fashion caps. I think the last time I had close to a count was around 250 San Francisco Giants related caps. I didn’t start really collecting caps until I heard that New Era was producing a cap for the San Francisco Giants featuring patches from each of the 7 World Series Championships the club has won. The run of caps was limited to 500 and each cap retailed for $200. They ran a bit small because of the 7 embroidered patches so if you wore at 7 ½, you should have bought a size up, so I bought a 7 5/8 and it still fits firm. Also, recently I came across a size 7 and purchased that too. I have those 2 in boxes as well as my New Era Introducing blank white cap that came in a box with paint markers, and 4 caps in Hat Club display boxes. I have two caps from Danny (Dionic Design) his Octoslugger and Fire Ant cap. The fantastic Alcatraz Jailbirds cap from Bay Era (Len and Grippy) and The Crazy Crab Cap. Other than that, my favorite caps would have to be the vintage San Francisco Giants caps in my collection.
Many of your caps that you post on Instagram are displayed on your homie the Brim Reaper – please tell us more about him.
HAHA! I swear, I get more questions about the Brim Reaper than anything else! There are actually 5 that I have. The first one I got back in 2008. They’re actually cookie jars back when Target was huge on Halloween and decorations. They would come out with a new one every year. Some years were better than others. The one I use the most is from 2008, then I have another white one from 2009, two identical silver ones from 2010 and an all-chrome smaller one as well. They just happened to be pretty close to the size of my skull and in passing one time I placed a cap on it and didn’t think much of it.
What is the inspiration behind displaying your caps on this fitted rockin’ Brim Reaper?
Seeing everyone posting their caps on Instagram, you could tell certain people’s caps by the way they posted it. Alex (SFGrippy) would have his famous half face shot from the eyes up, showing his cap. Nesto (Rockin_NewEra84) has his “head down heart up” pose showing off the logo of his cap. Gary (SpikeLeach) was probably the main reason for the debut of the Reaper. His shots were always so clean. When I first started posting pics of my caps, some of the crowns weren’t stiff and would have to try for a while to display it and get the right picture, and even then, you couldn’t see the underbrim and would have to stitch pics together, which I learned from following Maciek (Macall84). Around November of last year, I was taking a series of pictures to post on top Instagram of a few caps. I took a pic, turned it sideways, took a pic, the crown would fold in, had to fix it, turned it and so on. Halloween decorations were being taken down and I had my skull cookie jars on the counter that I had to move out of the way to take pictures with an unobstructed background. Came back to take more pictures and it just clicked. After having to turn the skull became tedious, I added the lazy susan under to make it easier to rotate.
New Era recently featured one of your pictures of the inside of a retro cap on their Instagram account. As a New Era fan, how did this feel? Which cap was this picture from?
It’s funny, I mentioned this to Gary Leach, that I posted a pic of a vintage cap (San Francisco Giants Cap) that was so old, it had a this white leather sweat band and had New Era’s name, size and slogan on the tag, but no logo. I posted the pic and hashtagged NewEraCap and a month or so later, New Era commented and said they liked the pic and asked if I would submit it through their website so they can post it. Then about 6 months after I submitted the picture, New Era posted the picture and tagged me in it, thanking me for having submitted the pic. What was funny to me is that when I posted it, I got maybe 24 likes. New Era posted it, and immediately got 5,000 likes. It felt like Michael Jordan posting a pic of someone wearing his shoes for the world to see and thanking them.
Which Style of New Era cap do you prefer: fitted or snapback – why?
I’m 100% fitted. Besides the fact that it is what the pros wear, I just feel like the fit is better and they’re not universal to size. With a more specific size range on caps, it makes caps more personal and rare. Say a cap like the 2007 All Star Game patch cap, and you want it in your size, the cap is only 7 years old and I’ve only seen it for sale on eBay twice in 4 years. The two times I saw the cap listed, weren’t my size. I bought it the second time I saw it listed and it’s 4 sizes smaller than I wear. I’ve seen specific sized fitted caps sell for hundreds of dollars. It just makes it feel like it’s more rare of a cap than a snapback. On the Crazy Crab Cap, there were a couple hats sold that were the one and only cap produced in that specific size.
When you rock caps, do you keep the sticker on the visor or nah?
The last time I wore a sticker on a cap was 2005, and it was on the under brim. It wasn’t until the sticker started to lose its tackiness and I removed it, that I saw what it did to the brim. Since then, anytime I’m going to wear a cap, all stickers come off. I stick the mlb/milb and 59Fifty stickers in a few places, such as my desk, laptop case or table, More recently, I’ve tried taking them and placing them on wax paper, just to save. If I have a cap with stickers, it’s because I haven’t worn it yet or I’m not going to wear the cap, just collect it.
Where do you purchase most of your caps? Any dope local sports you would recommend to other collectors?
First place that comes to mind is my Hat Club in the Sun Valley Mall in Concord, CA. The manager is fantastic and cap knowledgeable which I’m sure a lot of people would consider rare. Nothing worse than going to your cap store, a place you’re passionate about because of your interests and fact that you spend a lot of money there, and dealing with employees that don’t know and don’t care about what they’re doing. Hat Club has had hats in store that are custom and close to what I would design so much so, that I own a few doubles in case something were to happen to one. They came out with a custom Cooperstown collection cap (say that 5 times fast) that, in my opinion, is closer to an accurate time correct cap than New Era’s Heritage and Legacy series caps. I like their company from their service to the way they ship their caps in correct size boxes, bagged and with tissue paper. I’ve bought caps from Mickey’s-Place, which is fantastic too. Other than that I have a Lids I pop into in the same mall but they usually don’t have anything different than what you can see online on their website.
What does the New Era brand mean to you?
It actually means a whole lot! Ball caps have become such a huge staple in our culture in America and now the world. It is an American grown company that produces a product that is universally worn by people to share their allegiance to teams that they love and support and to also to display their uniqueness. In my opinion, New Era has been instrumental in incorporating the ball cap into our society and making the hat socially acceptable to wear in almost any venue. People get married in ball caps and take family pictures in them. They wear them to dinners and to the gym. The 59Fifty line has given everyone from toddlers to senior citizens to chance to wear exactly what the pros wear on the field and makes you feel closer to a sport and players that we love. The brand has embedded itself into my childhood and even today. I consider myself an ambassador to my team and with my 59fifty, I’m able to show that everywhere I go.
Do you plan on releasing more New Era caps in the future?
Do you have any other projects that you’re working on?
I’m currently in talks of designing for a couple teams, still baseball themed, which is cool. Hoping to collaborate with some Seals Team Six members. The best caps are the ones that are universally loved, especially by cap enthusiasts.
Any final words?
To run the risk of sounding cliché and repetitive, I think what cap collectors and enthusiasts have said is something that I find to be so true. Collect and wear what you like. If you like snap back caps and fitted caps then wear and enjoy both. What I love about this is that there isn’t a competition to be had and there is so much love in this community. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 caps or 1,000 caps. What I have and love in my collection probably doesn’t mean that much to you as it does to me. Do it for what you love and only because you love it