"The battle of the bay was probably equally lame in '89, especially those split hats. But if you see if a split yanks/mets hat, pick me up one."
-- Captain Japan (probably written in a plane over SE Asia somewhere)

I received the above email from Captain Japan, of Sake Drenched Postcards fame, regarding the "Subway Series" here in New York. I thought to myself, "Oh great, that's just what I want to do with my time." After all, this town is just on the verge of sinking into the Long Island Sound under the weight of all the hype about the Yankees and Mets meeting up in the World Series. Even the Empire State Building is lit up in Yankee blue and Mets Orange. (At first I thought it had something to do with Halloween, which shows what I know.)

But I had previously failed the Captain, a lifelong Dodger fan, when he had asked me to get him a Mets jersey with Orel Hershiser's name on the back, so I consented to do a little looking around.

I have a vague recollection of the kind of lid the Captain was after. I lived in the Bay Area in 1989, and recall seeing some people walking around with caps that not only had the logos of the two teams, but appeared to be half of a Giants cap and half of an A's cap melded together by some kind of cap-making magic. They were among the ugliest things I'd ever seen. Why he would want something similar from this series was a complete mystery, but it's not my place to question my friends' motives.

Naturally, I headed for Times Square, New York's home base for crappy souvenirs. That is, after I had put a co-worker who attended a game at Shea on the case, and he had returned empty-handed. I got the feeling he didn't go about his task with gusto, but I had no desire to ride the train to Flushing without a ticket, just to find a goofy souvenir. The Captain is a good friend, but not that good.

The first store I passed was called Grand Slam Stores, on Broadway and 47th. The plural in the name might be because they have more than one store, but if it isn't, it's still relatively appropriate. This joint is enormous. Two full floors, half-stuffed with freshly-printed Subway Series shirts - enough to fill a few normal cheap sports souvenir stores. They had plenty of caps, mostly of the Yankee variety, which I suppose makes sense, since their fan base seems to be about 75 percent of the population. They did have one cap with both the Mets and Yankees logos, but it was all one color (black), and not nearly tacky enough to go on top of Captain Japan's dome.

My next stop was K and L's Rock America, quite possibly the most famous crappy souvenir store in the world, thanks to frequent appearances by owners Sirajul and Mujibur on "The Late Show" with David Letterman. Neither of the famous hucksters was present, so I asked another employee if he had any of the caps in question. He pointed to the same Yankees/Mets cap I had seen a few minutes before. When I explained what I was after, he shook his head gravely and muttered, "Oh, no." I felt quite certain that if David Letterman was interested in a half-and-half cap, they could have found him one somewhere. I'm no David Letterman, so I had to leave.

On my way back down Broadway, I noticed Jin Jin Gifts. I peered in the window and saw exactly one baseball cap. To my surprise, it did not have a Yankee logo on it. Perhaps the proprietors of Jin Jin Gifts were lifelong Mets fans? More likely, somebody had dropped the cap while looking for a pewter Statue of Liberty, and they had kept the hat and stuck a price tag on it.

Figuring Broadway wouldn't have anything else for me, I headed for Eighth Avenue, and Capital Merchandise, Inc., on 51st Street. Again, no luck. They did have a different variety of double-log cap, and it was significantly uglier than those I had seen previously, but it wasn't what I wanted. I checked with the sales guy, determined to get my cap. I explained, in great detail, what I wanted, but he just shrugged. I asked if any such cap existed, and he said he had never seen one.

Could it be that people have better taste in headgear than they did back in 1989? Or that New Yorkers really are more sophisticated than people in the rest of the country? Perhaps I just hadn't looked hard enough. Whatever the reason, the Captain would have to live with more disappointment. Maybe some time in the future I can come up with a New York baseball souvenir for him - a Don Zimmer Halloween mask, or Daryl Strawberry prison pajamas - but for now I was tired and wanted to go home.

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