Thursday, August 2, 2012

A First Impression Is Everything

     It's happened to all of us at least once. You've walked into a cap store, perused the selection, and then had one in particular caught your eye. You've never seen it before, to your knowledge, but for some reason it appeals to you like no other before. Given the scenario, the odds are you couldn't resist and you added it to your collection. From then on, everyone stops you to ask what team is emblazoned on the crown and where they can buy it.

     The Clink Room, of San Diego, Calif. has been creating memories, such as the fore mentioned, since 2009. Jason and Casey, the originators of the modern day baseball logo revolution, have re-branded over 12 professional clubs in their careers. The most notable would be their work on the "re-imagined" Mr. Red Legs of the Cincinnati Reds. Additionally, the guys and their team have worked on teams such as the: Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Richmond Flying Squirrels, Mobile Bay Bears, among others. As if they weren't impressive enough to this point, periodically they accept submissions from readers to create their own team concepts for New Era Caps, in "Fantasy-Leagues" (Check their website for details, it's certainly worth a look).    

     Recently, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to shoot the guys a few E-Mail questions in regard to their baseball-filled youth, admiration of the fitted cap culture, and incredible successes within the industry. It was honestly an honor to talk to the guys behind some of my favorite logos. I wish them the best success in the future, and assure them that I will be a fan for life. Keep it up guys.

The following is the Q & A from last week, as responded by Casey. Hope you all enjoy:

The Fitted Diaries: Growing up, were you an avid baseball fan?

The Clink Room: Yeah, Jason and I grew up loving the Padres and played Little League. Summers at Jack Murphy Stadium are some of our favorite memories.

TFD: If so, what teams did you grow up rooting for? (Major League and/or Minor League teams)

TCR: We're from San Diego, so we grew up Padres fans. Because we work for so many different MLB and MiLB teams, we're now sort of team agnostic. But whenever I see the Pads take the field in their bean & cheese on a retro-night I still feel that loyalty to our hometown team.

TFD: Have you been a fan of fitted baseball caps since you were young?

TCR: Yeah, we used to pour over the Starstruck catalog picking our favorite fitted MiLB logos. Of course getting the fitted meant you had the official hat not a giveaway. It always felt special.

TFD: Do either of you remember what your first baseball cap was? Do you still own it?

TCR: Mine was probably a Padres giveaway hat, but sadly I don't know where it is. The first fitted I had was a Kansas City Royals hat. I was probably 7 or 8 and because it had the "KC" on it and my name is Casey I thought I was pretty cool.

TFD: How many fitteds do you currently own?

TCR: I try to keep the collecting down to a minimum otherwise it could get out of hand. I have a box of a couple dozen that I keep for sentimental reasons. But other than that, once I've worn a hat for a couple months I donate it. Keep it fresh.

TFD: What was the first professional team design that you had ever worked on?

TCR: Our first team we worked for was the West Tenn. Diamond Jaxx in Jackson, Tenn. They gave us our first shot at branding a team. We'll forever be grateful to them for that. They have since been sold a few times and are under a different name and management.

TFD: What is your favorite professional team logo/design that you have created?

TCR: Too difficult to pick. They're like our kids. They each have a special place in our history. But a few notables, to me, are the Cincinnati Reds, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Richmond Flying Squirrels, Clearwater Threshers, Lakeland Flying Tigers, and the Asheville Tourists. I'm leaving so many that I love out, it makes me feel bad.

TFD: What is your favorite "Fantasy-League" cap that has been produced through The Clink Room?

TCR: Also too tough to call. Let's say Clink Kong (below) is my favorite. He was named by Gyula Nemeth of Hungary and was designed by Kevin Werther of Webster, NY. He is Clink's mascot and I love everything about him. I love that he was created through collaboration and that represents what I love about The Clink Room.

TFD: What is your favorite baseball related logo past or present?

TCR: The Padres Swingin' Friar (below).

TFD: What do you feel makes a team logo a quality design?

TCR: From most important to least...

1. Story
2. History
3. Design

TFD: Is there anything in particular that you try to take inspiration from for a design/logo?

TCR: Research is the most important part of design. We travel to all the cities that our clubs play in and become honorary citizens for a few days. We talk to historians and take tours. We eat at the local joints and attend the game. A good sports design has to represent the city that the team plays in.

TFD: What made you decide to get into designing baseball logos?

TCR: We love sports. But what we love most about sports is fandom. Going to a baseball game, having a beer, talking to you buddies. Tailgating before a football game. This is what we wanted to be apart of. Seeing a uniform that you designed on the field is great. But the best thing is seeing a parent and their kid decked out in gear you designed. You really feel like you're part of something bigger. That's the best.

TFD: If you had your own baseball team, what would they be called?

TCR: The San Diego Scribblers

TFD: Are there any plans on expanding The Clink Room to sports other than baseball?

TCR: The hat has really become our specialty and I love exploring all the possibilities that a hat can have. That, of course, means that baseball will always be a huge part of our story. But Brandiose has grown a lot in the last year or two and you'll be seeing some of those changes in the next few months. We've got a lot of exciting things to unveil for Brandiose and The Clink Room.

TFD: Finally, What size fitted do you wear?

TCR: I'm a size 7 5/8 and Jason is a 7 3/8. I wear mine fresh out of the box and Jason likes to beat his up before wearing it. 

-Matt Aballi,

The Fitted Diaries