Baseball & Hats: A ‘Natural’ Fit
Need a little spring training of your own to get psyched up for the baseball season? Gather some friends, put a 6-pack on ice, buy some peanuts and pop in 1984’s “The Natural,” starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall and Kim Basinger.
If you’ve never seen it, it has everything a great baseball movie should. An unlikely hero looking for redemption, country folk adapting to city life, big money and corruption vs. honor and integrity, lust vs. love. Oh, and hats. Really well represented hats.
The core of the story is about Roy Hobbs (Redford)—a rookie in his mid-30s looking for one last chance to break into the game. In his youth he was truly great until a mysterious and sexy assailant shot him and nearly destroyed his life. Now he’s back and playing for the worst team in baseball run by an honest manager/team co-owner and a greedy corrupt co-owner. Vying for his heart are a long lost true love (Close) and a smokin’ hot gold digger (Basinger) owned by the corrupt powers within the movie. The fate of the player, the team and the lovers boils down to one tense climatic playoff game.
Aside from some early scenes set in the early to mid-1920s, the bulk of the film takes place in 1939. The two biggest hat wearers of the movie are Robert Redford and Robert Duvall, who plays a conniving sports writer named Max Mercy. In the ’20s, Duvall wears a large grey tweed Big Apple cap. In the ’30s he’s wearing several impeccable teardrop crown fedoras in primarily pearl grey and graphite grey. These are similar to our Selentino Sterling in silver and Stetson Downs in graphite.
Redford’s character is a Depression-era man who has spent his time living on the fringes of poverty. His brown fedora is dirty and well worn. The teardrop crown is broken-in and a little out of shape. The hat band is stained, presumably from sweat. As his baseball career improves, so does his hat. Careful observers will notice the nicer hat switching between a center-dent crown and a broken-in teardrop crown. No matter what hat he is wearing, the snap brim is usually down in the front and back. Similar hats at Hats Plus are the Churchill Capone and Biltmore Ark.
Redford’s worn-in hat is indicative of the great work done by the costume designer of the film. Most of the characters and extras have generally worn-in hats in various states of repair and disrepair, which is far more accurate than movies where everyone is wearing a shiny new hat. Most of the fur felt fedoras in this film are teardrop crowns, but some are center dent. You’ll also find extras wearing a lot of Panama hats and boaters or skimmers. It is summer in the film, after all.
My favorite bit player in the film is the team psychiatrist who continuously compares losing to diseases in an effort to motivate the team: “Losing is like a disease, worse than bubonic plague.” In fact, every time I’m force to listen to a motivational speaker, I usually snicker that line to whoever is seated next to me. I digress. This character in the film wears a straw optimo, in case you’re curious.
And there you have it. Now you’re all set for another season of baseball and stunning hats to wear to the game. What’s left?
Batter up! Or should that be hatter up?