Thursday, April 9, 2015 was one of those cold, damp days in New York that just gets you down. I hope it was the final curtain call of what was a truly rotten winter season.
The day found me mumbling over the need to don too much clothing for my trip into Manhattan. Bored by my dull, drab well-worn winter raincoat, I selected a bright blue baseball cap to protect me from the rain. The cap carried the Durham Bull’s logo; a big “D” in bright orange with a bull charging through the D.
I bought this hat last year on a baseball trip that included a Durham Bulls home game. It’s a good fit and it can bring interesting comments. Most people confuse it with the Denver Broncos hat because of the D and as that football team has similar colors.
But today my hat would be upstaged. After arriving in Penn Station, I made my way to the Eighth Avenue subway to catch an uptown local to the 50th Street station. Boarding an E Train, I found an unoccupied space to stand, grabbed an overhead bar for support and braced myself for the inevitable lurch as the motorman resumed his northbound journey.
It was only after I adjusted myself to the rhythm of the moving train that I noticed a chap wearing a dirty white baseball cap standing near to me. The writing on the side facing me read in navy blue, “2010 St. Andrews.” That grabbed my attention compelling me to give him a second look. He was about my age, could have been a tourist and I guessed he might have been traveling with the woman sitting in front of him. Once the train came to a stop at 42nd Street, the seat next to her opened up permitting him to join her. They began to chat confirming my assumption and I continued my examination of his hat. Instead of a logo of some sort the peak bore the Claret Jug, the trophy awarded to the winner of the British Open Golf Tournament or, as our British cousins egotistically refer to it, “The Open.”
For the record, The 2010 Open was played at the Old Course at St. Andrews from the 15 to 18 of July 2010. It was the 28th time The Open was played at this golf club and the 150th anniversary of The Open’s founding in 1860. The champion was Louis Oostuizen who won the tournament with a 16-under-par total of 272 beating Lee Westwood by seven strokes.
Bravely, I decided to break the subway’s unwritten code and spoke to this stranger, “Excuse me, that’s quite a unique baseball cap.” When he didn’t respond, I explained, “Your hat is a souvenir from the British Open, the most prestigious golf tournament in the world from a year when it was played at St. Andrews, the most prestigious golf club on earth.”
The woman responded, “He doesn’t know anything about golf.”
“I see. Well, trust me you own a rare cap. Where did you get it?”
“At a tag sale in The Bronx.”
By this time, the train began to brake as it entered my station. “Believe me, that’s a great hat.” was all I could say before I had to leave the train.
I stepped out onto the platform. The doors closed behind me and the train accelerated away leaving me to contemplate the circumstances that brought his hat from Scotland to a tag sale in The Bronx. I shrugged in wonder as I made my way to the cold, wet street.