Baltimore Orioles Cartoon Bird Logo – Perfected

I recently received an email from graphic designer and fellow student of the Cartoon Bird, John Adsit, asking for permission to use some of the content I’ve chronicled in my articles.  He had created his own version of the Cartoon Bird and was preparing a logo proposal to send to the Orioles front office. I of course said yes, but must admit I was a bit hesitant after seeing another “improved” version floating around the internet that was a far cry from the logos of the 60s, 70s and 80s.  Besides, I didn’t necessesarily find anything wrong with the current logo and thought it was fine as is.  However, after seeing Adsit’s version, my feelings quickly changed.

After looking through Adsit’s logo proposal, I must say, I was positively impressed!  His logo is the perfect representation of all the logos from 1966-1988 and a clear improvement on the current cartoon bird.  His presentation does a superb job of illustrating how much thought he put into the design, as well.  Pouring over each detail, he points out the imperfections of the current logo by comparing it to the logos of the past and executes these changes flawlessly in his own version.

So, without further ado, I give you the perfected Cartoon Bird logo:

Orioles Cartoon Bird logo redesign by John Adsit

Compared to the current logo:

Comparison of current Orioles logo with the redesign by John Adsit

So how is this the perfect representation of the cartoon bird?  The changes are very subtle so if you missed them on first glance, don’t beat yourself up.  There are three big changes that I feel make this logo successful.

First, the Cap:

Adsit’s redesign is really just a combination of all of the past cartoon bird designs, focusing on the most prevalent logos with the longest tenures:

longest tenured orioles

From top-left to bottom-right: Cap Logo 1966-1973, Cap Logo 1979-1988, Helmet Logo 1966-1988, Team Logo 1966-1991

The result is a new cap that looks like this

Cap Redesign by John Adsit

as opposed to this

Current cap design

The differences here are pretty obvious.  The redesigned cap is less round, featuring a bill that flips up like the old logos used to do.  The flipped up bill just makes things more fun somehow.  With everything laid out in this way, its obvious that the current logo’s cap design falls short in accurately representing the logos of the past in this area.

Second, the Eyes:

Take a look a this collection of logos from 1966-1988:

blackpanelcompare

One thing all of them have in common is that the pupils are very close to the bottom left corner of the eyeball.  The current logo features pupils directly in the middle-left side of the eyeball.  Adsit’s redesigned version corrects this problem by moving the pupils closer to the corner.  It also features enlarged pupils mimicking some of the logos from the late 70s and making them more proportional to the overall size of the eyes.  The result is an eye design that makes it look more like the bird is looking directly at you:

eye design comparsion

Third, the Outline:

This might be the most subtle of the three, but the current logo’s outline is a lot thicker than it needs to be.  When looking back at the three cap/helmet logos with the longest track records, you see that their outlines are a lot thinner.  Adsit’s redesign fixes this problem, bringing more of the focus back to the logo design itself.  This comparison of the ’66-’73 cap logo, the current logo, and John’s redesign does a good job of pointing out just how overly thick the current logo’s outline is:

Outline Comparison

A Timeless Representation

These changes together with other small alterations make for a most accurate representation of the cartoon bird logo.  With so many iterations of the cartoon bird, it’s no surprise that the first attempt to create an all-encompassing logo would fall short in perfecting a few of the details.  However, in my opinion, graphic designer John Adsit has created the perfect version of the Cartoon Bird logo.  He just nails it and knocks it out of the park.  I’m especially impressed that he’s not trying to put his own personal stamp on the logo, just subtle changes that make perfect sense.  Everything is still familiar and total respect is given to the logos of the past.  He just wants the Orioles to have the perfect logo, and so do I!

Not sure what the politics and process are of getting a new design through to an MLB team, but it would be absolutely fantastic to see John’s logo make it onto the official caps in the next year or two.  Let’s face it, the Cartoon Bird logo has gone through so many versions over the years (as the 1989 Orioles once said) “why nOt?!”

If you feel as enthusiastic about this logo as me, spread the word!  Share this post with your friends or write the O’s yourself if you feel so inclined.  You can check out John Adsit’s logo proposal on his website here.  Good luck, John!

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Baltimore Orioles 1966 Cartoon Bird Cap – A Closer Look

I recently acquired a fine specimen of the team-issued cap the Orioles wore starting in 1966:

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Made under private label by New Era for Wilson Sporting Goods.  There may have been a prototype before this cap, but this was definitely the first mass-produced cap featuring the famous Cartoon Bird logo, which was most likely supplied by Roman Embroidery.

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They would wear this cap virtually exclusively through the 1973 season.  I’m sure a few of these were worn into 1974, but by then other cap companies were getting into the mix, trying to gain exclusive license with the Orioles, until they finally ditched the all black crown and switched to the white and orange panel AJD caps in 1975.

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It’s great to finally have one of these in my hands, as I can really take a close look at it and scrutinize every detail.

First of all the visor.  Sometimes visors on old caps tend to get stiff over the years and can crack very easily with the slightest bend, but Wilson visors were made of rubberized cardboard, so this one still has excellent flex to it.

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The size of the cap is stamped next to the Wilson Professional Cap tag.

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Lifting the headband reveals another size stamp underneath, along with the letters DVC.  It turns out DVC is a date code.

WILSON CAP CODING

For caps manufactured for professional clubs, Wilson stamped a three-letter code inside/underside of the sweatband. This code was used to designate when the caps were manufactured.

First Letter is used to designate the last digit for the year of manufacture:
A=8
B=9
C=0
D=1
E=2
F=3
G=4
H=5
J=6
K=7

Second Letter represents the month of manufacture:
Z=January
Y=February
X=March
W=April
V=May
U=June
T=July
S=August
R=September
Q=October
P=November
O=December

Third Letter is always “C” for Cap.

So the three letter code of DVC means my cap was manufactured in May of 1971.  Over 42 years old and a great season for the O’s!

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Also under the headband is a tag that says 7 1/8, which is one size smaller than 7 1/4.

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A 7 1/8 tag is also found under the front of the headband.

So what size is it?  7 1/4 or 7 1/8??  My head size is 7 1/4 and I will say that this cap is definitely on the snug side, more like a 7 1/8, but that could be from the natural wool shrinkage over the years, so who knows?  A friend of mine has this cap with a size 7 1/8 stamp on the headband and size 7 tag underneath, so I guess maybe it was common for Wilson caps to have two sizes in their caps.  Pretty strange though…

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Something else to note is that the logo isn’t embroidered directly onto the cap.  If you look closely, you’ll notice that it’s actually an embroidered patch that is then stitched onto the cap.

It would be great to get one of these patches by itself and stitch it onto a modern-day, blank New Era cap.  Speaking of which, here are some comparison shots of the 1966 Wilson and the 2012 New Era caps:

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The ’66 crown is slightly lower and not as full.  Notice the vent holes are higher on the ’12 cap.  The bill and button is more of an orange/red color on the ’66 cap, but the logo embroidery thread seems to be the same shade.  The raised embroidery of the ’12 cap is stitched directly into the cap and is much more refined than the ’66 patch logo.

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Both of these caps are size 7 1/4, but the 2012 cap just seems bigger overall.

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Finally, since the structure of these caps are so different, I thought it would be interesting to post some side by side fit pic comparisons :

Earlier I wrote that the ’66 cap fit me more like a 7 1/8 than a 7 1/4, so I had to stretch it out a bit with a Hat Jack hat stretcher over night.  The next day the fit was perfect.

oriolesfit

Because the crown is lower, it fits closer, as well as higher on the head.  You can see more of my forehead shows with the ’66 cap, while the ’12 cap sits down closer to my eyebrows.

I think both caps look good, and it’s great to finally own an authentic, on-field 1966 Cartoon Bird cap, but overall, I prefer the style, fit and structure of the modern New Era caps.  Now if they could just get the logos right on their Cooperstown caps!

T.L. Lears, August, 2013

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Baltimore Orioles 1974 KM Pro Cap Box Opening

Nowadays you can find and purchase the same exact caps the pros wear just about anywhere.  Before the late 80′s/early 90′s, however, the only sure way you could get an official, team-issued baseball cap was by ordering directly from the cap manufacturer.  Just think about how tough it would be to even find out what company manufactured a particular team’s cap, as well as finding their address, before the invention of the internet!

Imagine, if you will, a special postal service that delivers through time.  As long as you have the correct address, you can order anything from the past and it will arrive to you in brand new condition.  What would you order?  Comic books, baseball cards, toys, vintage clothing?

Well, let’s just say I placed an order back to June of 1974, to 31 Beach Street, Boston, Massachusetts; location of the KM Pro Cap company.

This is what arrived at my doorstep:

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Opening the box:

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The original receipt.  $10 for a pro cap back then!

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The cap stays protected in KM Pro’s special hi-tech plastic bag:

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First, I’ll show you the underside with KM Pro’s specially designed cardboard insert:

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“This insert is only to keep your cap in shape while in stock.  Please remove before wearing.”  Hmmm??  If these inserts were still used in caps today, do you think kids would keep them in, just as some kids keep the size stickers on their bills in 2013?

Just look at this pristine headband:

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KM Pro tag and size stamp:

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A hidden size tag revealed under the headband:

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Baltimore Orioles 1974 KM Pro cap, brand new in 2013:

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It’s pretty cool to have a pro cap nearly 40 years old in this condition!

T.L.Lears, March, 2013

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Baltimore Orioles 2013 Batting Practice Cap

Just thought I’d do a quick post on the new Orioles batting practice cap:

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Beautiful orange panel, directly inspired by the 1975-1976 alternate:

BAL75A FRONT

Excellent move on the Orioles part to bring back a rare cap from the 1970′s and update it with the current logo and new materials.

Comparison of the home/road and BP cap logo:

birdcompare

The Orioles 2013 Authentic, On-Field cap lineup is pretty much perfect!

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T.L.Lears, March, 2013

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The Rarest of Birds: A New Orioles Logo Joins the Flock

I recently acquired a book reprinting all of  the Orioles team-issued postcards from 1954 to present day.  These cards are a great reference for cap logos because the majority of them are head shots, so the logo detail can be easily studied.  Everything in these sets seems to match up with what I’ve previously put together about the Cartoon Bird cap logo chronology, except for these two cards in the ’66 set:

These were the only two cards in ’66 the set with this logo.  All the rest had what I consider the 1966 cap logo.

The thing is, this “new” logo was familiar to me.  I knew I had seen it somewhere else before:

Yup, that’s the same logo alright.  This logo looks so out of place on this Jim Palmer card, I had dismissed it as one of Topps’ weird airbrush jobs which they were known for from time to time:

Topps would usually do this if a player had been traded after they had already taken the picture, but there’s no real reason for the Orioles to airbrush their own team postcards, so this confirmed to me that this was indeed an actual cap logo.   Once again, I started scrutinizing over Orioles Topps cards:

These are are all Topps cards, 1967-1970, respectively.  It’s funny how you can’t not notice something once you’re aware of it.

So here’s my theory on this “new” logo.  It looks as if it’s a silk-screened, flat, satin patch.  I don’t think it’s embroidered.  This accounts for the strange way it photographs (compared to the embroidered logo) on the old cards.

What I’m thinking is this was the very first Cartoon Bird cap logo, a sort of prototype that they slapped on the caps and issued in limited supply, most likely during ’66 Spring Training.   Then soon after (or maybe even simultaneously) Wilson put out their newly refined, embroidered logo caps, and that’s pretty much what they stuck with on through to ’73-’74.  Of course a few of the players would continue to wear this cap for the next year or two, as MLB cap regulations weren’t as strict back then, especially for a nearly identical cap.

So I think it’s safe to say that this is the rarest of Orioles caps and logos.  I would love to see a close up shot of this actual cap.  Here’s the graphic image of the logo:

This turned out to be the most difficult logo to replicate, as we didn’t have the nice big image files to work with that were available for the other logos.

Welcome back to the flock!

Once again, special thanks to Matt Strackbein for taking time away from his busy graphic design job to graphically render these logos!

T.L.Lears, October, 2012

Baltimore Orioles Cartoon Bird Cap Logos

My long time friend, graphic design artist and comic book creator, Matt Strackbein, took it upon himself to convert the Forgotten Cartoon Bird logos from photographs to graphic images, and he did an absolutely fantastic job!  Feast your eyes, folks:

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1966 (click here for more info)

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1966-1973

Baltimore Orioles cap logo exact years unknown (sometime between 1966-1974)

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1974

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1975-1977 (note that this is the same design as the previous logo with a black outline added)

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1975-1977 (this is a similar design to the previous two logos, slightly enlarged with enhanced features)

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1978 (very similar in design to the 3rd logo listed on this page, with added black outline and orange color deleted from cap button)

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1979-1988 (this logo also showed up previously on the ’66-’74 black crowned cap, exact years unknown)

Baltimore Orioles helmet logo 1966-1988

Here are Matt’s thoughts on the project:

When taking on a project like this one, recreating decades old logo art with modern day software, you quickly realize a few things right away. Most obvious is the fact that the logos were likely created by hand, whether actually drawn by hand or rendered by hand for decals, embroidery, screen print etc.

Therefore nothing is exact…no perfect curves, straight lines or angles, and so, much of the re-creation process becomes interpretive. Small decisions are made along the way with lots of editing afterwards, in a constant struggle between “making it look right” and “making it look good”. These decisions are left to the individual doing the work and the outcome could change from person to person.
 
So one must embrace the essence of the original logo art, and try to capture that spirit in the end. I personally like the “crude” aspects of the old logos from the 60s and 70s, but my modern day software (Adobe Illustrator) can’t help but make everything look polished and neat. I have cut out rubylith masks by hand with a knife before, and while I am thankful those days in graphic design are behind us (it was not easy), I still appreciate the compromises that were made over the years to get the best results possible. And so when I say I wanted to maintain a degree of “crudeness” what I actually mean is I did not want to sacrifice or completely hide the various by-hand-individuality that has traveled through time with the actual logo art.
 
Basically, my effort to restore these logos was more a task to preserve the secret legacy of each one, the craftsman who took part in their various renderings and uses, more than a task at recreating them exactly as they were. And, above all, I sacrificed my own personal art style, and relied only on technique and skill in order to get as close as possible to the original artwork I was presented with as resources (decals & embroidery mostly).
 
I record these thoughts, because they are important to me as a commercial artist, and also because my appreciation for the history of graphic design increases a bit more with every job. Great pains have been taken to bring colorful characters and images into the world, in this case the Oriole Bird, and those images have made every single one of us joyful to one degree or another. So why not show equal effort in restoring them?
 
One other note in regards to the Orioles’ logos from one to the next…never, as far as I could tell, did elements repeat. Meaning I do not think anyone ever borrowed from a previous version, and must have started their design process over entirely each time. The shape of the eyes is always different, as is the space between them. The angle of the head is sometimes tilted, sometimes not. The brim of the cap changed often too, and is more representational than illustrative. That said, it is obvious that it is the same character throughout the years…the same Bird. Same expression, same smile, same tuft of hair in the back, and same profile. 
 
From a distance such comparisons may be lost on us, but when you’re in close, as I was during this task, you see the subtle differences as easily as the large ones. Apparently, the logo designs were handled differently each time, with some hint of the artist or artists individuality peeking through, and I for one find that fascinating.
                              Matt Strackbein — June, 2012
All of the known variations of the official, on-field Orioles Cartoon Bird cap and helmet  logos.  Which one is your favorite?
All information compiled by T.L.Lears 2012

The Bird Is Back: The Orioles New Cartoon Bird Logo

It’s been 23 (mostly losing) seasons of this:

1989-2011 Ornithologically Correct Bird cap logos

I’ve never particularly had a problem with the different variations of the realistic bird cap logos. When it was introduced, the Orioles had just been through a few losing seasons, including their worst in 1988, so I think at the time, (1989) putting a new version of the realistic bird on their caps was a refreshing change. That’s right around the time I started seriously following baseball and I remember being very excited about that hat. In fact, it was my first authentic, on-field cap. I think that cap logo also fit in well with the Birds moving to Camden Yards in ’92.

That said, if the realistic bird ever makes its way back onto the caps again, I think it should be as an alternate only. The Cartoon Bird has proven himself as THE classic Orioles logo. I’m glad to see him back, and hope he’s here to stay!

First the new home cap:

Who would have thought that the Orioles would not only bring back the Cartoon Bird, but the ’75-’88 white panel too! Bonus! The white panel cap is a unique look to current day MLB cap styles, and now that the Orioles are the only team sporting them, I think they really have a chance to own this look!

The new logo looks even better in its raised, embroidered form:

Here are Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy, proudly wearing their new caps:

The new road cap:

Reminiscent of the ’66-’74 caps.

Adam Jones, stylin’:

Of course I’m biased, but this has got to be the best looking uniform set in MLB right now!

They even brought back their orange alternate jersey! Double bonus!

Here are variations of the Cartoon Bird for chronological comparison:

The new logo really fits in perfectly with the past logos.

And here’s the entire Cartoon Bird family!

Here are all the variations in graphic form, including a ’66 rarity and the ’66-’88 helmet logo:

Which one is your favorite?

Special thanks to Neal, for providing “The Bird Is Back” banner.

All information written and compiled by T.L.Lears 2011

The Baltimore Orioles Cartoon Bird Batting Helmet Logos

Studying pictures of  the Orioles cartoon bird helmet logos from the ’60′s-’80′s, you’ll notice a lot of inconsistency.  Although I don’t have nearly as much information and examples about the helmets as I did the caps, I think I may have discovered the reason for these inconsistencies.  It’s because the logos seem to be painted or maybe stenciled onto the helmets.  Some even appear to be hand painted.

The painted logos ranged from really good:

To really bad:

Looks like they let a local kindergarten class paint these things!

Here’s Eddie Murray’s Topps rookie card with a painted logo on his helmet:

I’m not certain exactly when, but later on, the Orioles helmets would be affixed with a decal of the logo, which would be used through the 1988 (final year of the Cartoon Bird) season:

Obviously, this decal would solve the problem of the early inconsistencies with the painted helmet logos.

Notice that it’s similar to, but not quite the same as any of the cap logos in my previous article.

Here’s a later card of Eddie Murray with the decal helmet:

Catcher Matt Wieters would use the white paneled Cartoon Bird logo helmet during the 2011 season behind the plate as his catchers helmet:

This is the best picture I could find, but it seems to be most similar to the 1966 cap logo, but maybe just a little stretched out:

Or maybe they just used this version from the Orioles style guide:

That’s about all I know of the helmet logos.  I assume the 2012 helmets will have the new version of the Cartoon Bird stuck to them.

Just for fun, here’s the whole dang family!

Again, special thanks to:

Parkway Pastimes

Awesome Orioles collection, where I found the game-used helmet and cap images used in this blog.

All information written and compiled by T.L.Lears, 2011

The Forgotten Birds: A Study of the Baltimore Orioles Cartoon Bird Cap Logos

My favorite team, The Baltimore Orioles!  They haven’t had a winning season since 1997, so lately I’ve shifted my attention to my favorite logo of all time, The Cartoon Bird. That friendly, smiling, feathered chap that perched atop the Orioles caps from 1966-1988.  But don’t let his friendly smirk and soft feathers fool you, he will show no mercy.

The Cartoon Bird logo has 19 out of 23 winning seasons.  That includes 7 trips to the ALCS, 6 pennants and 3 World Series championships. Not to mention, the Orioles were the winningest team in all of baseball during that span.

Here’s a good visual breakdown:

OK, enough with Baltimore’s long gone winning baseball history, lets get to the actual cap and its famous logo:

First the 1966-1974 cap:

This is a Mike Cuellar game-used cap, made by Wilson (Wilson caps were manufactured by New Era).

Here’s a ’74 Topps Paul Blair card wearing the same cap:

The logo above is the most commonly seen on caps from that era, however, other logos have shown up on this cap:

This is Mark Belanger’s cap.  I haven’t seen any pictures of actual players wearing this cap.  The subtle differences between the two logos might be because this one was made by the KM Pro Cap Company, but both Wilson and KM Pro apparently had their embroidery supplied under private label by The Roman Art Embroidery Corp., so who knows?

And here’s yet another variation:

Made by Wilson, this is 1st base coach George Staller’s game used cap from 1970.  I’ve never seen any cards or pictures from ’66-’74 with this logo either.

Here’s one more variation of the Cartoon Logo on the black crowned cap:

Also made by Wilson, it’s another Mike Cullar game used.  I’ve seen this version of the bird on pictures of the Orioles from 1974.

You can see it on this Jim Palmer card from the 1975 Topps set.  The O’s had made the switch to the white panel caps in ’75, so the actual picture was most likely taken during the  ’74 season or maybe ’75 Spring Training:

So here we have 4 distinct, different versions of the Cartoon Bird on the ’66-’74 cap:

(Click here for what may be the very first Cartoon Bird cap logo.)

All of ’66-’74 game-used caps I’ve come across have been made by Wilson, but then there’s that one I found from KM Pro.

I’d like to know exactly when Wilson and KM Pro had the rights to manufacture Orioles hats during these years, and whether or not they were exclusive back then.

Moving on to 1975, the Orioles added white panels to the front of their hat:

Notice the black stitching around the white panel.  Also, if you look closely at the logo, you’ll realize that it’s basically an enhanced version of the logo on the black crowned ’74 cap.   This logo is bigger overall, the features are slightly larger and the whole thing is angled up more, making his beak point higher.  Made of 100% Nylon, these were manufactured by the AJD Cap Company, based at the time in Richmond, Virginia.

The one and only Brooks Robinson:

They also had an alternate orange paneled cap that they used through 1976, with a similar logo design:

This is Tommy Harper’s 1976 game-used cap, also made by AJD.

Slightly smaller than the previous logo, this logo was also featured on the white panel caps.  In fact, it’s the same exact logo design as the ’74 logo with a black outline added.

Here’s Reggie Jackson sporting it in 1976:

And here’s another variation of the same cap with the larger logo and a black button on top:

Looking at these logos side by side, you can see that they’re all basically the same design:

Going by my Topps baseball card references, these two logos would stay on the white paneled cap on through to about 1978.

Here’s another cap that also shows up in about ’78:

This is a Doug DeCinces game-used from 1978.  Notice that this logo is the same as the KM Pro logo from above, but the button on the birds cap is black instead of orange, and the whole head is outlined in black.  The similarities between these two logos make sense because this cap is made by the Roman Pro Cap Company (the former embroidery company mentioned above).  They began manufacturing their own caps when KM Pro went out of business.

Here’s Mike Flanagan wearing that cap from the 1979 Topps set:

As I mentioned earlier, the photographs for the Topps cards back then were usually taken the previous year, or during Spring Training of the same year, so I assume they used this hat in 1978.

Around 1979, the Orioles switched to this cap by New Era:

This is Cal Ripken’s cap.  It’s made of  Nylon, with clear nylon stitching,  however,  it’s a much thicker weave than the AJD caps above, which were also made with Nylon.

Here’s Cal wearing it on his 1987 Topps card:

This cap was worn through the 1988 season.  This would be the final Cartoon Bird hat, before they switched to the ornithologically correct Oriole logo in 1989.

Notice that it’s the same logo that’s on George Staller’s 1970 cap, above.

Here are all the logos featured on the paneled caps:

Again, it would help to know exactly when AJD, Roman Pro, and New Era were contracted to make caps for the Orioles during this time, because there seems to be overlap for some years, so it gets a little confusing trying to figure out the exact chronology.

This is the best I can come up with from what I know for sure:

Top-Bottom, L-R:

  1. 1966-1974 – This is the logo you see most often on the black crowned caps.  I think it’s pretty safe to call this one THE ’66-’74 cap logo.  Made by Wilson.
  2. 1974 – This logo seems to show up on the last year of the black crowned caps in ’74.  This same basic design would remain on the caps through the transition to the white and orange panels.   Also made by Wilson.
  3. 1975-1978 – Logo used on both white and orange panel (’75-’76 only) alternate. Made by AJD.
  4. 1975-1976 – Logo used on both white and orange panel (’75-’76 only) alternate. Made by AJD.
  5. 1977-1978 – Made by Roman Pro.
  6. 1979-1988 – Made by New Era.

I’m just not sure where these other two black crown logos would fit in:

I have yet to find any photographs of players wearing these.  Could they have been prototypes or samples of some sort, given out in limited supply?

Here are all the logos together again, for easier comparison:

Except for the top and bottom left, all the logos basically match up with each other.

Who knew there were at least 4 different, distinct variations of this guy over the years?!  I think it’s interesting that all the versions appeared at one time or another on the 1966-1974 black crowned cap, and 3 of the 4 were made by the same manufacturer, canceling out the possibility that the variations were caused by switching companies.

Now, the reason I titled this The Forgotten Birds, is because the only bird people seem to remember nowadays, (if they even realized there were differences in the first place)  is the ’79-’88 bird. All throwback merchandise today only features variations of that particular bird.

For example, here are the best “replica” caps offered at the moment:

First, New Era’s Authentic On-Field, Turn Back the Clock cap, released earlier this season:

And here are the best white and orange panel New Era Cooperstown Collection caps:

They all look like decent caps, but if you’re a stickler for detail, like me, you’ll see that they all have the wrong logos.

Even the white paneled cap, which is almost correct, (for ’79-’88) isn’t exact.  Look at the logos side by side, original on left, replica (featured on all 3 caps) on right:

Some might really consider this nitpicking to the extreme, but the replica logo on the right, while the embroidery is more refined, isn’t quite as round and symmetrical as the original, particularly the line along the bottom left.  Other minor differences include the button on his cap and the eyes.

Even Chris Creamer’s authoritative sportslogos.net  doesn’t have the correct logos:

(The ’66 logo is very close to the actual logo.  The only difference I can notice is the button on top of his cap.  See above for the inaccuracies in the other two logos )

At the very least, these four logos should be represented:

Here are the graphic versions:

Well, that’s pretty much everything I know about the Baltimore Orioles Cartoon Bird cap logos.  The Orioles are bringing back a new version of him on their home and road caps for the 2012 season.  While I haven’t seen it yet, the new version of the Cartoon Bird is reported to be a combination of these two guys:

The unveiling should be later this month, and I can’t wait!  I, for one, am glad to hear that they are designing a new logo, that fits in with the old logos, rather than use an old version that isn’t exactly correct, like they do with the Cooperstown Collection and TBTC “replica” caps, as I’ve pointed out above.

UPDATE:

It’s been 23 (mostly losing) seasons of this:

1989-2011 Ornithologically Correct Bird cap logos

I’ve never particularly had a problem with the different variations of the realistic bird cap logos. When it was introduced, the Orioles had just been through a few losing seasons, including their worst in 1988, so I think at the time, (1989) putting a new version of the realistic bird on their caps was a refreshing change. That’s right around the time I started seriously following baseball and I remember being very excited about that hat. In fact, it was my first authentic, on-field cap. I think that cap logo also fit in well with the Birds moving to Camden Yards in ’92.

That said, if the realistic bird ever makes its way back onto the caps again, I think it should be as an alternate only.  The Cartoon Bird has proven himself as THE classic Orioles logo.  I’m glad to see him back, and hope he’s here to stay!

First the new home cap:

Who would have thought that the Orioles would not only bring back the Cartoon Bird, but the ’75-’88 white panel too!  Bonus!  The white panel cap is a unique look to current day MLB cap styles, and now that the Orioles are the only team sporting them, I think they really have a chance to own this look!

The new logo looks even better in its raised, embroidered form:

Here are Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy, proudly wearing their new caps:

The new road cap:

Reminiscent of the ’66-’74 caps.

Adam Jones, stylin’:

Of course I’m biased, but this has got to be the best looking uniform set in MLB right now!

They even brought back their orange alternate jersey!  Double bonus!

Here are each of the known variations of the Cartoon Bird for chronological comparison:

The new logo really fits in perfectly with the past logos.

And here’s the entire Cartoon Bird family!

Here are all the variations in graphic form, including a ’66 rarity and the ’66-’88 helmet logo:

Please drop me a line for comments or if you can add any more information.

Click here for my brief article about the Orioles Cartoon Bird helmet logos.

Click here for a recently discovered Orioles Cartoon Bird cap logo.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

Parkway Pastimes – Awesome Orioles collection, where I found most of the game-used cap images posted above.

Ryan Sullivan of pasteinplace.com for providing his “Lucky Bird” analysis chart.

Matt StrackbeinGraphic Design, Production Artist, Comic Book Creator – For converting the photographed logos into graphic images.

Click here for a brief article about converting  the logos  to graphic images.

The Ballcap Blog  Where I found information about the different cap companies.

Neal, for providing “The Bird Is Back” banner.

Clint Farrell of www.ProCapRepair.com, for providing pics of his absolutely pristine AJD caps.

All information written and compiled by T.L.Lears 2011

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