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American sports gear, baseball hats displayed in Europe

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 13, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives |

A selection of hats to buy in a Vienna, Austria Foot Locker on Oct. 23, 2008.

When traveling big European cities, you’ll likely see more New York Yankees hats than any other. Those hats represent too many things not to be so prevalent.

It is our country’s largest and most culturally present city. The Yankees - despite recent failings - were long a brand of consistent dominance in the sport long considered the most American of games. Their very name - the Yankees - is slang still used by some to refer, mostly playfully, to us. It’s a chance for teenagers in Budapest to seem international and for Swedish seniors to note family relations abroad.

Sean and I took a particular interest in the global politics of sport brands, particularly the baseball hat. We took copious notes on the subject. Those Yankees hats were most popular, but they certainly weren’t alone.

We were about to escape Brussels, which seemed the most European of the big Euro-metropolises we, without seeing a single American sports emblem. Then I spotted the bus driver. He had a Phillies hat, the Philadelphia baseball team on its way to its first World Series championship in nearly 30 years.

In nearly a week in London, we spotted seven New York Yankees hats and one Philadelphia Eagles hat. In Paris, we caught three Yankees hats, two Los Angeles Dodgers hats and one Philadelphia Phillies hat. In Amsterdam, I saw a Phillies hat, in addition to three L.A. and two N.Y. ones.

Philly is certainly an international city, but it still has some winning over to do of the global community - in addition to its own residents. That World Series crown can help, but I was surprised to see the handful of Philly hats abroad that I did.

Still, to be fair, the hats I saw were front-loaded in this trip. After Paris, I didn’t seen another one outside of a store for the rest of the month.

In Vienna, Austria, there was one from Los Angeles, one from the Chicago White Sox, and in a Foot Locker - depicted above - we saw mostly N.Y. and L.A., with a few from Chicago and Atlanta, and even one Houston Astros and one Pittsburgh Pirates. In another hat store, we saw a throwback Phillies hat, another Pirates one and one from Los Angeles.

I was surprised to find that the first Boston hat I saw came in Zurich, Switzerland. It was one of many in the city though. There I saw three New York Yankees, one from San Francisco, one from Los Angeles, one from Pittsburgh, one from Atlanta and even a Cincinnati Reds cap.

After the Eagles and Phillies hats I saw, Boston became the next city I saw represented in more than just baseball. In Budapest, I spotted a Boston Bruins hat, which gave me chuckle. The same city had the regular ones, a Yankees, three from Los Angeles, but I also saw one from the Washinton Redskins and one from the Kansas City Royals.

With those few exceptions, we overwhelmingly saw baseball caps. We passed by a San Diego Chargers jersey - LaDanlian Tomlinson, of course, and I saw a Montreal Canadiens T-shirt on a Canuck I met.

Of two city baseball cities, it was all Yankees, White Sox and Dodgers. I didn’t see any gear from the Mets, Cubs or Angels. What that means I don’t know, considering I saw two Boston Bruins hats - the second coming in Miskolc, Hungary.

I saw a Knicks hat in Copenhagen, but mostly these choices, I suspect were geographically tied. Big media cities like Los Angeles and New York dominated, otherwise, they were - like in the states - style and color choices, I guess, or, perhaps, from a relative.

Anyone have experiences like these of their own? Or any conclusions? Wonder if the Phillies win will affect this at all, assuming production of Yankee hats far exceed others because of their popularity and success.

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6 Comments

anto
Aug 24, 2009 at 7:01 pm

hello first of all i found you guys on youtube because i searched for curry36 and then i saw you.
To your question, I’m living in Austria and i play bball and at my court there are some skaters and some ballers and very much of the skaters wear these hats and i think that they even dont know what they are representing, even i know a few. And the yankees are worn because of their logo NY and everybody knows for what that stands, just like LA. I think that they even dont know the name of the team of LA. Just a little percentage of about 2-3% knows that


 
Christopher Wink
Aug 27, 2009 at 10:35 am

Thanks for the comment, and that’s interesting. It probably shouldn’t surprise. Our city of Philadelphia is very big, too, and its hat as an obvious “P,” but among international communities, it isn’t as well known as the NY or LA hats.

Great insight. Thanks!


 
frederico moura
May 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm

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Tomas
Nov 29, 2012 at 11:17 am

Hello, I lived in London for several years (2005-2007) and travelled extensively through Europe during this time. Early on I was blown away by the number of hats for Americans sports teams. Living and working in London I would see sometimes a dozen hats a day around the city. From talking to a few they said they were the gear because of its urban edge and they felt a taboo of representing American gear at a time when on a cultural and general level anti-Americanism ran high. Some even told me it was like thumbing your nose at society and siding with the badass bully take no prisoners nation. On the continent most seemed to identify with American youth culture. My two cents.


 
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