SFGrippy is a mysterious character in the cap-collecting community. Known for being a die-hard SF Giants fan and for his signature shot, where he shows off his caps, revealing only part of his face. (Except for those few times when he has shown his whole face….perhaps that wasn’t really him?) We tracked SFGrippy down at his secret Bay-Area hideout for a Cap Talk interview, where he decided to shed the mask and reveal more of his identity. Alex Mitchell, AKA SFGrippy, is San Francisco – born and raised, a craft beer drinker, baseball nut, Bay Area music playlist curator, and a New Era cap enthusiast. He has a degree in marketing, likes to walk his dog, eat delicious sandwiches, and BBQ meat for large groups of people. In his interview, Alex discusses why he decided to reveal more of his identity, how he became such a big SF Giants fan, what inspires his New Era cap collection, and more! Find out all that’s on SFGrippy’s mind after the jump. What’s on your mind? Want to show off your cap collection? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org
Name: Alex Mitchell AKA SFGrippy
Location: San Francisco, CA USA
Social Handles: @sfgrippy on Instagram and Twitter
Hat Size: 7 1/4 and a stretched out 7 1/8
You’re a bit of a mysterious character on Instagram. You’re known only as SFGrippy, and most of your pictures are taken showing only your eyes and the New Era cap you’re rocking. What made you decide to remove the mask, so to speak, and reveal more of your identity to us?
Haha, I love a good play on words. As some readers may know I have been sharing my collection on Instagram primarily so I thought this would be a good chance to connect with hat collectors using other media. I am basically a lurker on the NECTalk boards and posts and don’t communicate much so here I am.
You have a degree in marketing. Where did you attend school? What are your career plans for the future?
I went to college at both College of San Mateo (CSM), a junior college to play baseball and get my AA, then finished up my education at California State University, Chico. After CSM I realized that I made a better cage hitter than a player I decided to hang up my spikes and focus on my schooling. As far as my future goes, who knows? Life moves at a mile-a-minute so I’ll just see where I end up.
As a person with a background in marketing, how do you feel New Era markets their products? What ideas would you bring to the table if you worked for the company?
Tell you what, if they need someone fresh in there I’m more than happy to shell out my ideas! Haha. All in all what New Era does keeps me interested. With the contests they run and the short videos they produce I enjoy being a part of it. I think their store opening promoting could have been better, but that was only one experience here in SF.
You’re a big San Francisco Giants fan. Why do you #WearYourAllegiance to the team?
I’ve always been a Giants fan. My family has been in this area for generations and all of us wear and share our allegiance. I even went to the 1989 World Series when the Giants played the A’s. I was really young but I still remember being there. We’ve been lucky as fans the past few years since they’re playing really well, but we all know that wasn’t always the case. I also used to work for them in high school, I was a visiting clubhouse attendant for a couple of years so I got to rub elbows with a lot of Giants players and also any visiting team that came in, that was awesome.
You have a big collection of SF Giants New Era caps. Do you mainly collect only Giants caps? How many caps do you have in your collection? What are some of your favorites?
Mainly Giants and their MiLB affiliates as far as baseball teams go, but if there is a hat that I can’t live without than I won’t hesitate to pick it up. I like to have a hat for every occasion, I even tried to start a hashtag #hatforeveryoccasion, not really catching on though, haha. Other than those I’ll pick up 49ers hats, anything San Francisco/Bay Area related (as long as it is a fitted, no snapbacks), and very rarely a custom that isn’t even sports related. Some of my favorite caps include a 2007 All Star Game hat that features the SF skyline and bridge since it was held at AT&T Park, one that features Candlestick Park and has a 1984 All Star Game patch on the side which I wore to the last 49er game at that stadium, all four of the Chico State fitteds that were relased either last year or the year before, my Jailbirds hat, and then probably my Mishka x Twiztid collaboration hat since they are a band that I have been listening to since high school it was a no-brainer purchase.
Speaking of SF Giants x New Era cap collections, you recently picked up fellow Bay Area-based collector and SG Giants fan, Sam The Rebel’s custom “Crazy Crab” 59FIFTY – a mascot that has a long and infamous history with the Giants. What are your feelings on this cap?
I love it. I hope there is another one. The Crazy Crab has a history in SF so it is awesome to see it emblazoned on a fitted. Sam has one of the best Giants hats collections too which goes to show you he was the perfect person to come up with that idea.
While we’re on the topic of limited custom caps, this year you assisted your fellow Bay Area homie Len Kori AKA Elko Design promote the “Jailbirds” 59FIFTY via social media. Did you have a hand in the creation of this cap at all?
As far as design goes, that was all Len. He had this vision and wanted to create it and I’ll be damned if it didn’t turn out perfect. I am very impressed with his graphics work so when we came together with the idea to get them created we just kept the wheels rolling and made it happen. As someone in the marketing business I just suggested some ways to build interest in the cap so we could produce the necessary amount. It helps we knew who our target market was so the sales part was easy.
How do you feel the Jailbirds cap was received by New Era collectors and enthusiasts?
Len and I were actually surprised by the amount of attention and support it received. We’ve talked about it since and we kind of wished we kept the preorders open longer as well as there were a lot of folks who still to this day wished they bought one and didn’t miss out. I thought it was pretty cool that when the folks who bought one posted on Instagram with my signature “half face” pose.
Elko Design said he had more caps in the works. Can you shed some light on any of his upcoming work?
To quote a Moblin from The Legend of Zelda “It’s a secret to everybody.”
We’re digging your 59FIFTY inspired sticker logo that Len Kori designed for you. What does this logo mean to you? Have you ever thought of putting it on stickers?
I love it. I had this idea one night after a few beers and thinking about how we would promote the Jailbirds to get more interest and followers and since I collect New Era hats primarily why not merge myself with the logo? So we went through a few variations and came up with what it is currently. Since it is for my Instagram and Twitter default pics I put some common hashtags I use: #Rollingwood and #BayEra. Rollingwood is the neighborhood I grew up in and met some of the best friends and people I still know to this day and Bay Era is a concept Len and I along with AgentFitted kind of came up with and are working on. Stickers could be a possibility. I like how I am branding myself here so why not promote with stickers? Do you know any investors that want to pony up the cash? Haha.
If you designed your own New Era cap, what would be on it?
A goat…definitely a goat. Have you ever seen a fitted with a goat on it? Didn’t think so. Also the neighborhood I live in now is nicknamed “Goat Hill”. I’ve heard many reasons why but in any case it is in this neighborhood’s culture. Also the best pizza place in SF is Goat Hill Pizza. Pizza with a sourdough crust? Come on, no contest. Also I did the research and in SF you can have up to two female goats for “family reasons”. It isn’t fully established what “family reasons” means but my girlfriend and I plan on getting two. So yeah, a New Era cap with a goat, which may or may not have already been designed…
Are there any upcoming New Era releases that you’re looking forward to this year?
I always like the 4th of July hats that come out which after last year is helping me to accept the Diamond Era line of hats…I wasn’t a huge fan at first but I’ve come around. I’m also looking forward to the Giants World Series side-patch and gold World Series Champions hats…haters gonna hate.
What is your dream New Era collabo?
You know, I never really thought about it, that is a good question. I think a dream collabo would be me and New Era in some fashion, haha. Actually, there were releases a few years back with New Era and a lot of rock bands, Rock of the Ages or something like that? Those should be done again but with all new bands, and get Led Zeppelin on one.
You’re not only a New Era collector, you’re also a craft beer enthusiast. What are some of your favorite beers? What Bay Area-based artists do you enjoy listening to while you’re downing a cold one?
Hands down almost anything by Sierra Nevada. I guess I am biased since the brewery was founded in Chico and was my first experience (at a legal age) with a good beer. Then of course, biased again, Anchor Brewing which is just down the street from me. On Instagram I tried to start this weekly post with beer and I would post what song I was currently listening to. Mainly Bay Area rap artists like Cellski, Cougnut, San Quinn, Mac Dre, E-40, RBL Posse, Smoov-E, 11/5, The Jacka, B-legit…geez, the list goes on. A link to my Spotify playlist can be found on my Instagram profile, @sfgrippy. I’m pretty proud of that list and now have 150+ followers.
Currently, there are a handful of craft beer brewery x New Era collaborative caps. Would you like to see more breweries work with New Era in the future?
I fully encourage them to do so. I want to be first in line for a Sierra Nevada and/or Anchor Brewing hat. Give them to me please!
You enjoy eating delicious sandwiches, and BBQing meat for large groups of people. If you could rock a cap with one item of food on it, what would it be?
Well, ask anybody else and they would say bacon, haha. Somehow when people think of bacon they think of me, I really don’t know why but I did get a lot of free bacon out of it. But if I could choose one food item for a hat it is a toss-up between ribs and pie. Pie > cake, I’m starting this movement.
What do you think about the Iron Pigs “Bacon” 59FIFTY? Do you think its success opened up the door to more food logo caps?
I don’t know about food caps per se, but I think it sets the bar high for future, quality MiLB logos. The Clink Room does damn good work and I do have a few of their creations so if they can top this, or any design agency for that matter, then you know it will be a huge hit with collectors. Fun fact: I bought mine the day they were released, which was a good thing because they sold out quick.
You enjoy walking your dog, who from the looks of it, enjoys rocking SF Giants fitteds, just like his owner. What type of dog do you have?
Haha, yup, the mini fitted is the perfect size for my terrier-chihuahua mix. His name is Rox and he is my little homie. On the weekends we’ll walk down to AT&T Park and around the area. I’ve even taken him into the Giants Dugout merchandise store before for a little hat shopping. Got a few stares for that one.
Most people think dogs only destroy shoes, but my Boxer has chomped on a few of my caps. Has your dog ever chewed up one of your caps?
Thankfully he doesn’t chew up anything. He’s actually afraid of hats, haha, if I put one on the bed near where he is lying he’ll run out of the room.
Checking out your Instagram it seems obvious, but we have to ask. Which style of New Era cap do you prefer: fitted or snapback – why?
#stayfitted. Not a big fan of the snapbacks. I like fitted caps because they are what the pros wear. I played baseball from as far back as I can remember through college and the first team I was on that hat fitted hats I was in love. I was 11 years old and that’s all it took. I don’t remember fitted hats for babies or kids when I was younger so an adjustable (not even sure they were called snapbacks then) was the only choice for my head. As soon as a fitted cap could fit my head it was history, never looked back.
Sticker on the visor or nah?….. Forget it we know the answer – You use the #nostickercrew hashtag quite often. So we assume you’re not into keeping the sticker on caps – How come? Are you against it?
Haha, you’re right, no need to even ask. I just never liked leaving them on. Not against it really, just not what I do. It goes back to the old way too when there were tags on the hats, I did not like when those were left on either. The stickers are just the new tags, so they have to be removed. I keep the stickers though, on sheets of wax paper.
Where do you purchase most of your caps?
There are a few places I mainly buy my hats: Stores – Hat Club, Lids, New Era, Giants Dugout (local), Sports City (local), All Out Foul (local), Fresh Apparel (local), Derby SF (local); Websites – along with the main ones like New Era, Hat Club and Lids there are shop.mlb.com for all MLB and MiLB hats not on the main websites, mickeysplace.com for harder to find Cooperstown Collection and Negro League caps, and a slew of other places but these are the main ones.
Are there any specific local San Francisco cap stores or craft beer spots you would recommend to people?
As far as cap stores yes, any ones mentioned prior that are tagged (local) are all great places. Lots of customs and hard to find Bay Area related hats. Good craft beer spots would be a few in the Bay Area: Triple Voodoo Brewery on 3rd Street in SF, Toronado on Haight Street in SF, Rosamund Sausage Grill on Mission Street in SF, Ale Arsenal in San Carlos (and get a pastrami sandwich next door at Refuge), and a diamond in the rough is the BevMo on Bayshore in SF, it is a lot bigger than other BevMo locations and always have what I’m looking for.
What does the New Era brand mean to you?
It sounds cliché but New Era is a lifestyle. I’m not a shoe collector, I have little to no fashion sense, but one way that I can differentiate and express myself is by putting on a fresh New Era cap. If I am wearing one of my rare caps people want to talk about them and learn and then compliment me on them. Who doesn’t love compliments??
Do you have any other projects coming up?
Len and I have talked and as you know there are a few designs complete plus a running list of ideas, but we are thinking a lot larger than before and that takes some thinking outside of the box. We definitely want to release the Jailbirds again as that was a lot more popular than we could have imagined so hopefully that again and maybe one for my neighborhood that was mentioned a few months back. Search #BayEra on Instagram for a hint as to what is coming up.
Any final words that you would like to share with the NECTalk/New Era cap collecting community?
I had no intention of showing off my collection and didn’t even know there was a cap collecting community until I accidentally posted on Instagram and gained followers. I just want to say that every cap collector out there has been awesome and they are all good people. I’ve gotten to know a lot of you and I love how everyone has their signature “show-off” and type of cap. If anyone is visiting the City hit me up on Instagram because I may just be around AT&T Park or grabbing a beer somewhere. Thank you all for reading and thanks to you and NECTalk for the interview. Find me on Instagram and Twitter @sfgrippy.