The Origin of the Blue and White Striped Engineer's Cap
There is no sport that evokes more nostalgia among Americans than baseball. America's favorite pastime originated before the Civil War as a game called "rounders." Throughout the 1850s and 60s, the game evolved to include more mental judgment skills, and eventually involved scoring and record keeping. By 1871, just two years after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the professional baseball league was born.
By the time the early 20th century rolled around, most large cities in the eastern United States had professional baseball teams. Because of the sport's popularity, many famous ball players like Phil Rizzuto, Eddie Matthews, Harry "The Hat" Walker and the legendary Babe Ruth spent a significant amount of time riding the rails.
Employees of the railroads, with a desire for camaraderie and recreation, formed employee baseball teams. These teams were quite organized and even competed in leagues and championships.
One semi-famous railroader took time off to play semi-pro and professional baseball. George "Stormy" Kromer was an engineer for the Chicago and North Western. Kromer made a habit of wearing his baseball cap while at the controls of his engine, but it just wasn't quite what he needed while on the job.
Kromer came home one day and lamented his discomfort to to his wife, Ida. The Kromers put their heads together and came up the design of what we now call the railroad engineer's cap.
Ida Kromer, an expert seamstress, assembled George's new cap with what she had at hand: blue and white pinstripe pillow ticking. Their efforts were a hit. The cap became very popular among railroaders, and ultimately resulted in the beginning of a business that still exists today.
George and Ida Kromer.