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.

original bird caps

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.

 

frank first bird

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

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