Wear What Papa Bear Wore
Few men are as synonymous with Chicago and hats as George “Papa Bear” Halas. He was the owner, player, coach and creator of the Chicago Bears football team.
He started the team in Decatur as the “Stanleys,” named for the company for whom the team played. The team didn’t work out so well for the company, and Halas was given control and ownership of the team, which he quickly moved to Chicago. They soon became the Bears in tribute to the baseball team the Cubs, who let them play at Wrigley Field.
Football back then wasn’t the national phenomenon it is today. It took someone with showmanship and an understanding of publicity to make it that popular, and Halas was just the man to do it. Halas was a great innovator and promoter as well as a talented player and coaching genius. He led the team to several national championships, while also boosting the popularity of the sport. He was the first to have football games on the radio, developed a team newspaper and was very influential in starting the movement to share TV revenue with less-well-funded teams in smaller markets, as a way to advance the popularity of the sport and ultimately make much more money.
As famous as he was for the championships, strategic inventions of formations such as the “T-Formation” and the overall growth of the sport, there was so much more to Halas. He served as an officer in the Navy during World War I. When America entered WWII, he chose to be reinstated as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy and quit coaching until the war ended. He also donated and raised millions of dollars for charitable causes. It was enough for Chicagoans to forgive him his 19-game career as a baseball player for the New York Yankees in 1919. His replacement on the Yankees didn’t last long, either. Another upcoming star named George took the position. George was more commonly know as Babe Ruth.
Halas coached the Bears for 47 seasons and racked up a record of 318 wins that would stand as a coaching record for 3 decades. Halas remained owner and highly involved with the team until his death in 1983.
Halas is best remembered by many as the man standing on the Bears’ sideline in a short-brimmed grey fedora with a dark grosgrain bow band. Images of him in his hat still adorn the city that still holds his memory in a reverential state. He was even immortalized that way on a stamp.
At Hats Plus, we still get the occasional fan looking for their own hat like Papa Bear’s. When they come in, we direct them to the Biltmore Hayden. Not only is it virtually the same size, shape and design, it is made from the same high-quality fur felt his hats would have been made from 50 years ago.
Tags: Bears hat, Biltmore, Biltmore fedora, Biltmore Hayden, Chicago Bears, coach's hat, football, George Halas, George Halas hat, hats plus, navy, Papa Bear, Papa Bear Halas, philanthropist, short brim fedora, stingy brim fedora, U.S. Navy, World War II