For our latest Cap Talk interview, we link up with BayArea-based New Era enthusiast/die-hard San Francisco Giants fan Ernesto Dominguez, AKA Rockin_NewEra84. He has been collecting caps since 2001, and is well-known for his signature hand gesture and, also, his On-Field collection. Something you may not know about Ernesto is that his collection isn’t just limited to On-Field caps, he once witnessed a 59FIFTY giving birth, and he has a degree is psychology! In his interview, Ernesto discusses how he became such a big Giants fan, and lets us in on some of the unique caps in his collection. Also, he sheds some light on the #CachuchaCrew of New Era enthusiasts, which he is part of and, as he does have a degree in psychology, Ernesto gives us his opinion of whether us cap collectors are obsessed, addicted, or just simply passionate about collecting hats! Find out more of what’s on Rockin_NewEra84’s mind after the jump. What’s on your mind? Want to show off your cap collection? Hit us up at email@example.com
On Instagram you’re well known for your signature hand gesture that you place over the SF Giants logo on your New Era 59FIFTY. Explain to us what it means and how you came up with it.
Head down and heart up! Sam the Rebel came up with that little phrase. I usually place it on my SF Giants Fitteds but have done it with my Mexico fitted. I don’t do it with just any fitted. The significance is the team that I love and that team happens to be the SF Giants! That hand gesture came about when I was at the 2012 World Series parade. It was just an awesome experience to be apart of, my friends and I were being silly right before the parade started and I was about to do a regular heart with my hands and then it came to me…. “why not put the heart in front of the SF logo that’s on my fitted?” so my friend took the picture and that is how the hand gesture of that pose was created.
Clearly you’re a big San Francisco Giants fan. What makes you #WearYourAllegiance to the team?
Growing up in the Eastbay I was surrounded by Oakland Athletics fans. The A’s were dominant in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Not a pleasing experience growing up in the Eastbay. My older brother who’s 8 years older than me, leaned more towards the Giants/49ers and San Francisco always appealed to me since my parents didn’t really take me to the city to visit. The colors green and gold never caught my attention as a child as well as having an elephant (Stomper) as a mascot was not cool in my book haha. I looked up to my brother and somewhat followed his footsteps on the teams he cheered for. I was given a hard time for siding and being a Giants fan growing up in the Eastbay, but it made me embrace the Giants even more. My first game at a professional baseball game was August of 1997 when the Giants played the Anaheim Angels at Candlestick and I can recall Ricky Henderson playing left field in that game. Having my first professional baseball experience at Candlestick made me fall in love with the team even more. I am fortunate to be old enough to indulge everything now that I’m older such as in 2010 and 2012 where I’m fully able enjoy these World Series titles to the fullest. Baseball and the Giants is just more than a passion for me. It’s part of my childhood, a friend that has never left me, a team I’ve stuck with during low times and high times, even close on losing the team to Tampa Bay! It takes me away from reality for a brief moment and it’s kind of good to cheer for something as well as to lose yourself in something have no control over. My SF Giants fitted means much more than just a fitted and baseball. I’ve been fortunate enough to witness live and at AT&T park, 2007 Home Run Derby, All Star festivities, game one of the 2010 World Series, the only perfect game pitched by a Giant and my favorite player on the Giants roster (Matt Cain). I’ve been loyal to this team and will continue to be loyal. Loyalty is royalty. My heart is black and I bleed orange! It’s Halloween for us everyday out here! Let’s Go Giants!!!!
Your collection consists of mostly On-Field fitteds. Why do you mainly collect this type of cap? How many hats do you have in your collection in total? What are some of your favorites and why?
My collection consists mostly on-field fitteds because it’s what the pros wear and each logo team has it’s own history. I respect the game and love the history of it. I’m not too flashy and like to keep things simple. I know I’m over 200 fitteds but right now just trying to organize them a little better and trying to make room for them with the rest of the junk that I have haha. Some of my favorites are on field all black SF Giants fitted (which I take every time I travel) which is a must, my a basic black SF Giants flawless because this little one has traveled with me from Cooperstown, Boston, Florida and even Europe. The SF Giants New Era all black and gold stitching with the Anniversary patch, love how the gold pops off the black fitted. San Jose Giants, Richmond flying squirrels, Lake Elsinore Storm, Diablos Rojos de Mexico, and Detroit Tigers. I tend to lean more towards minor league fitteds because they are able to play with their logo more.
In addition to On-Fields, you also have a wide selection of caps, including Mexico-related caps to rep your Mexican heritage. What do these caps mean to you? Please tell us about some of your favorites.
Not many people know about the teams in Mexico. They have rich history and I love the logos. The logos are creative and as Mexicans we don’t take things seriously, such as the stereotype of Mexicans selling oranges or tomato pickers and though there is truth to that but there are teams such as Naranjeros de Hermosillo (Orange Growers) and Tomateros de Culiacan (Tomato Growers). Some might find this degrading or offensive, but it’s just a character that doesn’t define us a whole country or people. Just have fun with the logos in my opinion. Some of my favorite Mexican logos are Diablos Rojos de Mexico (which are the Yankees of Mexico), Narajeros de Hermosillo, and Tomateros de Culiacan.
You also have a number of World Baseball Classic caps in your collection that you used to represent teams during the 2014 World Cup. You even included the Brazuca ball in one of your pictures! Did you have a hard time tracking down all of these caps?
Not really. Most of them I came across when sales were going on. I’d say more than half I got at the Lids in Los Angeles when they were going for $15 each. Then I did some damage when Lids online had a sale and they were going for $15-$21. The one that was hard to find in my size was Puerto Rico. The hardest one to find is the Korea in baby blue. I just haven’t seen that one be available at all. Most are available on NewEra site or Lids online.
Did you enjoy the 2014 World Cup? How do you feel Mexico performed?
The World Cup was awesome! New blood coming in and doing well such as Colombia and Costa Rica but sad to see how Brazil fell apart towards the end. As for Mexico, No Fue Penal! Haha Mexico did better than I expected to be truthful. A bummer how they let the game slip away after that blown call. Proud of them either but yet disappointing that they got eliminated yet again.
Have you had a chance to kick around Brazuca yet? If so, what are your thoughts on the ball?
Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to kick the Brazuca. I bought a mini one since it was on clearance for $10. Not a bad pick up if you ask me. I should look around to see if I can find one to kick around though.
Although you don’t have too many character-related caps in your collection, you do seem to love your G.I. Joe and Marvel caps. Were you a big fan of these properties as a kid?
I LOVE G.I. JOE! The only action figures that I mostly played with as a child. I still have my G.I. Joe figures and my very first one that I found at the age of 4 on the school yard during recess when I was in kindergarten. As for superheroes, yes I loved them as a child and I still do to this day! Who didn’t love superheroes that had superpower capabilities?! As a kid I loved Spiderman, X-Men (Gambit and Wolverine are my favorite characters) and Venom.
We see that you added the Blue Beast Fur 59FIFTY to your collection. Have your worn it yet? Do you feel authentic Blue Mutant Fur is too warm for the Bay Area climate?
Oh yes, the blue Beast is an awesome one to have! I have to thank @ib3ast_hats for that one! Thanks beast! I haven’t worn it yet but it’s a perfect fit. I haven’t worn it because I haven’t found the right picture to take. My idea is to take a picture of it at a lab or with some test tubes and I’m trying to figure out how to manage get access to all that. I like tying a theme with my fitted of the day when I take my picture of my fitted. Actually the fur might help when I go to the city. When I wore my captain America once, it made my head really warm and I’ve noticed character fitteds tend to be a little warmer due to the extra material that is used. My beast one will be posted soon so be on the lookout for it when I do post it…. every time I see it I can’t help but to think of one of Eddie Murphy’s line in coming to America “what is that velvet?!”
The only streetwear cap in your collection is from Acapulco Gold. How come? Are you not a big fan of streetwear hats?
You are correct, at the moment I only have one Acapulco Gold Fitted. I’m not really into street wear or design brands. I like to keep it simple and stick to baseball teams. I feel that those brands are more directed for the younger folks, it’s just not my style. I also believe they don’t make 6 7/8’s so most of them fitted me a little big. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise. I will say I do like the Crooks & Castles line but I don’t own anything of theirs.
You started collecting caps in 2001 and you are still going strong in 2014. What has inspired you to pursue this passion for so long?
In high school I was known for having the most hats at my school. I was determined to collect all 30 MLB teams and slowly but surely the number grew. So, in a way I felt that I needed to live up to my reputation. I only bought fitteds at stores and usually had most, so there was about a 3-4 year span where I didn’t really buy much because I didn’t find anything that really was available to me. I didn’t really make online purchases until now. It wasn’t until I came across Ricky Ruby’s page where he had some awesome character ones and little by little I was coming across others who had the same passion as me. I then found a community of awesome people who share the same thing as I do. I then was exposed to the many fitteds I didn’t have and never had seen before, it was a was a whole new world for me! So I then decided to make an exclusive IG profile and Rockin_NewEra84 was born.
You have a degree in Psychology from San Francisco State University. Given your knowledge and expertise, what is your assessment of yourself and most cap collectors/enthusiasts – Are we obsessed? Addicted? Or just passionate about caps?
Allow me to channel my inner Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, Piaget, Freud! Ha! I think some have a little of all three in us. We are so passionate that we are just addicted on purchasing more and more and more where it can be viewed as an obsession and in a way it is. Where one might tell themselves “ok I won’t buy a fitted for a month…” If we were Pinocchio we’d all have long noses by now haha. Everyone tends to collect something, we just so happen to have our own things which happens to be hat/fitteds.
Do you plan to pursue a career in psychology?
When I graduated I did think of pursuing MFT (marriage family therapy), MPH, or even some sort of counselor but things have changed due to some life experiences where it’s either MPH (masters in public health) or nutrition/Health education. Just trying to be fit in my fitted! hehe
You are part of the #CachuchaCrew, a group of New Era cap enthusiasts. Tell us a bit about the crew and how it got started.
That’s right Vato haha. How it came about was that @Tanxican used the hashtag #cachuchacrew and I just loved it! I asked permission to use it and then I just put it out there for fun that we should start something with that. sort of to have our own little thing like the CrewEra13. We all wish we could be in that exclusive group and they are all awesome, humble and generous people may I add. So @EdgarDiaz480 liked the idea and then @Ralphie1192 read our conversation and also liked the idea. It’s nothing that exclusive but something we just wanted to be apart of and have fun. All because of a simple hashtag haha. The beauty of a #hashtag.
You are from the San Francisco Bay Area, where many New Era collectors are based. You recently met up with fellow New Era enthusiast SF Grippy at a Giants game. Please tell us a bit about the meet-up.
At first I had mistaken him with another guy when we were about to meet. Good thing I Didn’t approach that guy. Since @SFGrippy doesn’t really post any pictures of his face (everyone knows the infamous Grippy picture shot) but I wasn’t sure how he looked. We met up, spoke about fitteds, Giants, baseball, music, bounced some of my ideas on to him and a few other things. Good times! It was pretty chilly, but Grippy had his shorts on, so he’s more accustomed to the City weather. Straight savage! Great to meet a fellow #fittedfam and fellow SFGiants fan. I recently met up with him again and hopefully we’ll catch another game with a few other folks before the season ends. Hurry up fellas and let’s do it! haha
You have also linked up with other collectors such as @ib3ast_hats and @raylevelbeast07. Please share with us some of those experiences.
It was an EPIC night when I met those two beasts! I was a little skeptical meeting them because I was unfamiliar with Los Angeles and I was going alone. It sort of felt as if I was going on a blind date haha. @ib3east_hats recommended uber, and was convincing on having me come out and meet them and so with little convincing I went. When I got to the bar I didn’t see them at first and then I saw two guys wearing fitteds and then they recognized my fitted off the bat. That night was so awesome. We spoke for hours about fitteds, how we got into them, why we don’t like snapbacks, sports, a little bit about ourselves. That night was a night to remember with all the scenery that happened after the bar closed. @Raylevelbeast07 even invited me over to his place the following day and let me take pictures of his Wall of Fitteds. I feel honored to even put some of my fitteds on his wall and take pictures! We had breakfast the morning I took off and well I was back in Los Angeles 2 more times in less than 3 months! It was awesome! Much appreciated! That trip in March, was the beginning of a GREAT Brotherhood! They made me feel right at home and who would have known Los Angeles would feel like a home? Great humble brothers of mine that I am grateful to have met and all through the power of the fitted!
You recently collaborated with fellow Bay Area-based collector Sam the Rebel, who laced you with some fresh logos. How did this collabo come about? Being that you’re a Giants fan, what do you think of the Crazy Crab 59FIFTY that he designed?
That man is always shaking things up! Where’s the sarcastic button?! Haha. @Samtherebel have kept in touch for a few months now. We joke around and bounce ideas off each other and he’s known that I’m trying to find a graphic designer so he took it upon himself to help me out and it came out awesome! Can’t thank him enough! Thanks again bro! The Crazy Crab 59Fifty is an awesome piece. I missed out on it. It came about when I started my @Rockin_NewEra84 profile so I didn’t put in a request. I love how it captures part of Giants history and there hasn’t been anything like it released by the Giants. I guess I’m one of the few who can’t rock a crab on my head unfortunately… While everyone else has crabs, I’m Crab Free… haha. Hopefully it’ll get re-released and I can grab one!
Speaking of custom-designed caps, you own Elko Design’s SF Jailbirds 59FIFTY. What do you think of this hat? If you designed a cap of your own, what would be on it?
I think it’s a great hat! The concept is awesome! I haven’t worn that one because I haven’t taken a trip to Alcatraz to capture the them of it for the background. I’ve gone by San Quentin but I can’t capture the right shot for it. It doesn’t do it justice, so I must take a trip to Alcatraz. If I designed some of my own fitteds I would doing my version of a luchador fitted, a loteria fitted (loteria is a Mexican version of Bingo), some Mexican name brands, basically all Mexican influenced. Perhaps incorporate some bay area influences such as a BART train, a trolley from San Francisco, or The Bridges (Golden Gate & Bay Bridge).I just need to get a hold and work with a graphic designer. My ideas are there, now I need help bringing them to life.
It’s nice to see you’ve made friendships with people through a shared passion for collecting New Era caps. What are your thoughts on the New Era cap enthusiast community in general?
It’s just awesome. I’m not a “sneakerhead” which I hate that term of use because sneakers go on your head but that’s another conversation/topic haha, but I’ve noticed that New Era cap enthiusists help each other and we have more support than any community I’ve taken part of… well Crossfit is the same as in a community. We don’t hate, we help each other out especially finding what we call “holy grails” and let each other know of when fitteds go on sale online, such as character fitteds. It’s just awesome to take part of this. Most of us are not fond of snapbacks. I think teamfitted can agree on this. Snapbacks are whack yo!
It seems pretty obvious, but we need to know for sure. Which style of New Era cap do you prefer: fitted of snapback – why?
Oh Fitted all day every day! Team Fitted to the fullest. There are a couple of reasons why I don’t like snapbacks. When I was growing up fitteds were not available for kids. Snapbacks were called and known as adjustable hats back when I was growing up. I just didn’t like how they felt and if I put on today I have to put the back part all the way of the beginning of the plastic part and it makes me feel like a little kid. It just doesn’t feel right. the open hollow space in the back. I did my time with adjustable/snapbacks. I did my time and moved my way up to a fitted hat. No need to look back. The fact that I’m one if not the smallest size of the group size 6 7/8 (but can do a 7 from time to time), I feel that I’m the Rocket Raccoon of the group haha.
Just like fellow collector SF Grippy, you also use the hashtag #NoStickerCrew, so we’re going to assume you don’t keep your stickers on the visor. How come? Are you against it?
#NoStickerCrew to the fullest! Not to mention #StickerFreeCity! No stickers for me, but I do keep the little MLB or MiLB hologram that’s on the bottom of the visor. The reason why I don’t wear it is because I have respect for the game of baseball and like to wear it how the Pros wear them on the field. I don’t need to advertise to folks on what size I am. I feel that by leaving the stickers on you’re covering a fitteds true beauty. I can compare it to a gorgeous girl having a baggy sweater on! =) Also, when waaaay older people keep them on because they see the younger crowd doing it…well, it kind of makes it uncool. It’s like when your mom and dad uses certain slang words like turn up, swag and all that to be cool. Kind of like when Dr. Evil was trying to impress his coolness with his son Scott Evil. I can respect those who keep it on. It’s their preference and their choice.
Where do you keep most of your caps?
When I first started to purchase my fitteds my goal was to own all 30 teams. I had all 30 on my wall. As my number in fitteds started to increase it was harder to get through some of them so they started to collect dust, then I bought a big plastic bin and then two. At the moment I keep them in plastic bins but recently have been given access to baseball boxes that retail hat stores receive from New Era company. It’s in the works right now.
Can you recommend any local spots?
Oh yea! Hat Club in Concord is the one I visit the most. Sunvalley mall also has a Lids and an all American Sports Fan. No discount there but you might come across one that you might like. There’s Hat Club at Serramonte Mall in Daly city along with Sports City. Goodfellas in San Francisco on Haight has a few gems there. No discount there so that kinda sucks. West coast Sporting goods in San Leandro is a mom and pops sporting goods store but their fitteds are $27 every day. They have a yearly sale at the end of February where you might find some for $10. Even some of their regular ones get marked down to $22. They are strictly on-field fitteds though. the great Mall in Milpitas has a hat club that was just renovated on the inside with the wooden shelves. A little Kiosk named “the Hat League” is another pot to check out.
What does the New Era brand mean to you?
What New Era means to me is more than a brand. It’s a style, a particular location, a way of life, what you’re into, you’re carrying history (with certain teams), it’s more than just a hat.
We couldn’t believe it when we heard, but we’ve seen it with our very own eyes on your IG account – A FIRST. You witnessed a momma 59FIFTY giving birth to a baby 59fifty! Please share with us what that experience was like.
Well, it wasn’t a pretty sight, but I had to do what I had to do. It was an awesome experience to take part of. It’s not easy having to explain to your young ones where they came from so I made the video. I was nervous on the out come, perhaps a Mets little one would have came out? or a Oakland A’s? even Dodgers? Thank god none of that happened but the little one had her mothers features! A pure Beauty! Bringing new fitted life on this planet is surreal. A great moment when you add another fitted to your family. Proud to be a father to so many fitteds. Those who are waiting to be claimed at stores, I’ll get to you soon enough. My family is always expanding and will continue to expand. Reminds me of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, I could be their version in fitteds? HA!
We know that Women Can Wear Caps Too!, and apparently so do you. Word is that you’re looking for women to model caps to give your page some flavor. Any luck with that?
Yes sir. Dean Cane, sir! Currently have asked a few ladies to ask to take part of this fun project and I have a few lined up. Currently hit a speed bump because I am not allowed to have my name stitched on a fitted because my IG name has New Era in it and it’ll be a copyright infringement. Lame! Looking at other alternatives at the moment. Keep a look out! It’s going to happen sooner than you know it! Stay tuned!
Do you have any projects coming up that you would like to let people know about?
Yes Sir! I have plenty of ideas. One as we have covered is my Foxy in a fitted. I’m collaborating with the rest of the #CachuchaCrew of having our own logo and perhaps fitted.
Any final words that you would like to share with the NECTalk/New Era cap collector community?
I would like to thank NECTalk for giving me the opportunity to conduct his interview! Many thanks to @ib3ast_hats the beast of all beats! thanks for everything brother. Thank you for everything and making LA feel like a second home to me, @Raylevelbeast07 thanks for letting me check out your wall and making LA feel like home, @Samtherebel for being the rebel that he is and always lending a hand when he can, @Raza1292 for having my back on that Magneto, @Tanxican for always finding gems and sales online. My cachuchacrew fam, my fitted fam/team fitted and everyone who has given me a shout out. it may not mean a lot to some but the little things I never take for granted. To all the stores such as hatclub, lids, New Era Los Angeles flagship, and those I might have missed. This fitted community is so awesome! WE might wear our fitteds a different way, we may express ourselves in many different ways, styles & have our own preferences, You might keep your sticker on and some will take it off. Some might bend their brim and some will keep it straight. Some might rock it straight ( like a baseball player) and some may rock at an angle or even backwards. We all have our favorite team(s) and represent a particular city or region. Some may not even have a favorite team and just like fitteds in general. We ALL have a passion and love for NewEra/59fifty. What makes us different also makes us similar. Remember we are all family, we are all team fitted. Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this and I hope you enjoyed and chuckled a few times!