The third cap in a series of caps commemorating the Águilas de Mexicali’s 70th anniversary marks the team’s first championship and possibly the greatest Águilas squad in team history.
The 1985 Águilas team managed by former Mexican League player and one-time Seattle Mariners third base coach Benjamin “Cananea” Reyes made Mexicali history by winning the LMP (Mexican Pacific League) title during the 1985-1986 campaign, beating the Tomateros de Culiacán (roughly translated to Tomato Pickers of Culiacán). The title was the first in Águilas team history and would lead to a spectacular run in the Serie del Caribe.
The team that wins the LMP title goes on to represent Mexico in the Serie del Caribe (Caribbean Series). The Caribbean Series takes the winning teams of several Latin American winter leagues and plays a round robin tournament to determine the best winter league team in Latin America. The teams in the 1986 edition hailed from Venezuela (the host team), Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and (of course) the Águilas representing Mexicali and Mexico as a whole.
Several teams in the 1986 Serie del Caribe rostered current (at the time) and former MLB players.
Former Padre outfielder Randy Ready played for Puerto Rico (Mayagüez) and hit .467 with 7 RBI, earning him Most Valuable Player honors. Puerto Rico also featured names such as former Padres Wally Joyner and Luis DeLeón, MLB pitcher José Guzmán, Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, and (now infamous) Bobby Bonilla.
First baseman Andres Galarraga led Venezuela (Tiburones) and the tournament with 2 home runs. Current Oakland A’s first base coach Al Pedrique played in the infield.
Tony Peña was behind the dish for his native Dominican Republic which also featured such names as Juan Samuel, Luis Polonia, Domingo Ramos, and now-current Angels first base coach Alfredo Griffin.
The Águilas were not without their own MLB players.
Former Padres/Phillies great John Kruk manned center field for the 1985-86 Águilas/Mexico team; he’s pictured here with teammate and former Padres farmhand pitcher Jim Leopold. An erstwhile outfielder for the Expos by the name of Roy Johnson played right field. MLB pitchers Salomé Barojas and (former Padre) Sid Monge were also on the roster.
The upstart Águilas, fresh off their first LMP championship would endure a 11-0 stomping from Venezuela in their first ever tournament game and a 6-0 complete game shutout from Luis DeLeón of Puerto Rico to go on and win the Serie del Caribe held in Venezuela, taking revenge on the host team with a 14-0 win on the way to a 4-2 record in the tournament. Jim Leopold and Jaime Orozco of Mexicali would tie the tournament lead with 2 pitcher wins apiece.
The 1986 Serie del Caribe remains the only tournament win for the Águilas in 4 attempts. The most recent attempt in 2017 saw the Águilas/Mexico come up short in the one-game final against a red-hot Puerto Rico squad that would make plenty of noise in the following World Baseball Classic.
On to the hat:
White interlocking MA logo and New Era flag
This hat is the first in the series that is not a modern remake of the hat worn by that year’s team. The 1985-86 Águilas wore (by all estimations) a red pillbox hat. As with the 1976 edition of the 70th anniversary set I imagine this hat was meant to be distinguished from the mostly red hats the team has worn throughout its history. It’s a very clean, concise look otherwise that matches up with the uniform nicely.
On the wearer’s right is the anniversary patch.
The underbrim and sweatband are matching black.
And much like the other hats in this series is the commemorated year stitched on the sweatband.
Cap Availability Status: Import
As with the rest of the caps in this series, you’ll have to venture south of the border to acquire one for yourself.