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Utica Blue Sox (1997-2001 Hat Club Retro)

This week's Fresh Fitted Friday entry is a Utica Blue Sox retro from Hat Club and in the spirit of being completely forthcoming, my main inspiration in selecting it for this week's post is National Sock Day being tomorrow, Saturday, December 4, 2021.

 Utica wore this logo during its tenure as the Short-Season A affiliate of the Florida Marlins in the New York-Penn League from 1997 through 2001, which sadly was its last season in the league. I've always found it interesting that the socks were not teal to match Florida's colorway but perhaps they had exhausted that theme with the Elmira Pioneers who were their previous affiliate in the league. 

Over the past few years, Hat Club has slowed down its production of MILB cap retros in favor of releasing brightly colored variants of MLB logos, usually with some sort of commemorative patch embroidered on the side. I'm glad I was able to pick up this "Made in U.S.A." cap before that transition happened.

That baby blue MILB batterman looks great on this dark navy crown which in most lighting actually looks black. I don't have a vintage version of this cap so I can't say how accurate the color is but I'm a fan of this one either way.

In recent baseball news, on December 2, 2021 at 12:01AM EST, MLB entered its ninth lockout in history. While I'm fairly certain this particular work stoppage will not lead to the cancellation of any games, it is disheartening that an industry that has been generating over $10 billion per year since 2017 does not effectively prioritize resolving such labor conflicts.

It must be stated that MLB has had a misguided relationship with morals and money for a long time though. Last week I touched on the continued misappropriation of Native American culture in baseball branding yet unfortunately, that's only a part of the problem.

The real issue is ignorance and intolerance. It's alarming how often baseball fans are either unwilling to grasp that so much land was pillaged from Native Americans since Europeans began settling here in the 16th century. So consider this a gentle reminder of that fact!

As a New Yorker, I appreciate that many counties, cities and streets are in a respectable fashion named after the tribes who inhabited this place before. For those uninitiated in nuance, the difference between being a namesake and a stadium full of mostly-white people doing a mock Native American chant to root on their team couldn't be further apart.

Understanding that disparity is key to society moving forward and that is done by a never-ending search for truth in history. For example, up until I sat down to write this week's post, I had mistakenly assumed the name Utica in Upstate New York had Native American origins when it in fact is named for an ancient Carthaginian city located in modern-day Tunisia.

Moving past my blunder, I also learned that before being colonized by European-American settlers, Utica, NY was home to the Mohawk Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy. I find all of this fascinating because present-day Utica is ethnically diverse as it is largely comprised of Italian-Americans, Slavs and since the 1990's has been an important refugee city.

I haven't spent much time Upstate but I'd like to get up there to see games in some of those old New York-Penn League towns which have since mostly shifted over to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. I'm looking forward to seeing the diversity of cities like Utica and Syracuse and even hope to make it to Buffalo as any New Era devotee is wont to do.

This week's Fresh Fitted Friday selection is not going on the Trading Block however please don't hesitate to reach out if you want any other cap from that list and you are willing to part with any of the hats on my Wish List.

As always, thanks for coming back to read about baseball hat geekery. I've got comments disabled here so if you'd like to discuss a trade or simply just chat about hats, please feel free to connect via the following social sites:

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