KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A line of baseball caps launched Tuesday by New Era trying to celebrate big league cities was met by overwhelming criticism and appears to have already been shelved by the company.
The “Local Market” hats were removed from New Era’s website hours after their introduction. The series included one cap for each team featuring the club’s primary logo, area codes for the surrounding communities and various iconography meant to represent the area.
There were several issues. The area code selection was inconsistent, including several notable omissions — the Tampa Bay Rays’ hat didn’t include St. Petersburg, where the team’s stadium is located, for example; the Pittsburgh Pirates’ version had no area codes at all.
The decals were lampooned as tacky, generic and at times inaccurate — Cincinnati fans had particular beef over a poor rendering of their beloved local chili.
The caps were never meant to be worn by players in games, MLB said. New Era did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.
Since 1993, New Era has been the exclusive cap provider for Major League Baseball.
For the Kansas City edition of the hat, a vital area code from the Kansas City area was omitted: 816. The Kansas City hat does include the following area codes:
- 620 – Southern Kansas
- 316 – Wichita metro area
- 785 – Northern Kansas
- 913 – Kansas City, Kansas side of the greater KC metro
All of the area codes on the hat are in Kansas. No Missouri area codes are featured on the cap despite the team residing and playing out of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
One of the panels on the hat even includes an embroidered Kansas City, Missouri, flag and another has the state outline of Missouri with a 1969 inside of it in reference to the year the team was founded.
The cap does include a saxophone in reference to the city’s jazz history as well as the logo from the franchise’s first World Series victory in 1985.
Above the World Series logo it says, “Kansas City Heart of America.”
There is no reference to the 2015 World Series victory on the hat.
On the back of the hat, opposite of the state’s outline, is an embroidered pig to represent the famous barbecue, of course.
FOX4 spoke with Royals fans Tuesday about the ball cap blunder.
“[New Era] kind of forgot the two most important parts of Kansas City, which are 816 and the World Series in 2015,” Josh Lewis said.
“I don’t know what [New Era was] thinking, but somebody’s going to get canned, sounds like,” Spencer Modiri added.
They weren’t the only Royals fans speaking out.
KC Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted, “Cancel this.”
The Royals told FOX4 it had no official comment on the hat, but the team’s Twitter account changed its bio Tuesday to read, “Located in Kansas City, Mo.” It had other references to the hat, even pigs.
“I’m not buying that hat. None of my kids are buying that hat, so we’re going to only buy it when they recognize who we are in the 816, and that we won the World Series in 2015,” Steve Scanlon said.
The hat appears to have been an online offer only and was not going to appear in Kansas City stores, including the Royals official team store.