Spike Lee might be better known for a career spanning over 30 years, with movies such as Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and BlacKkKlansman, however it was his love of baseball that provided an interesting footnote when he became instrumental in introducing the red New York Yankees hat in 1996.
“The red Yankees hat; that’s the one that changed the whole game,” he tells us at the launch of the New Era x Spike Lee x New York Yankees Championship 59FIFTY cap at New Era Carnaby Street (pictured above – a sneak peek of one of seven styles that will be launching globally in September). “Before that, teams had one colour and that was it. I wanted a red hat to match my red top, and New Era said they couldn’t do anything without the permission of the Yankees. So I went to the owner of the Yankees — the now deceased George Steinbrenner — and he OK’d it.” The rest was baseball cap history.
In another historic move, West Ham United’s football ground is transformed this weekend, when the Yankees face their bitterest rivals, the Boston Red Sox, in a pair of matches that mark the first Major League Baseball games to be held in Europe. Lee will be in the stands, before making his way back to New York, for the 30th anniversary of Do the Right Thing. “We’re having a big celebration block party,” he says.
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that Lee’s outfit will be on point: the red cap being the tip of a sartorial iceberg that has seen the director famously rock everything from sports casual to zoot suits, all-black-everything to that incredible purple suit created by Ozwald Boateng for this year’s Oscars.
Check out some of Spike’s greatest looks, from peace sign tees to some, admittedly dodgy, aquasocks below.
“This is on the set of Do the Right Thing and I can tell by what I’m wearing on my feet that this is the scene where the kids wet the late Frank Vince while he was driving in his drop top Cadillac. That’s why I had those things on my feet.”
“At that time, Jesse Jackson was running for the President of the United States of America, so we put those posters up against the wall and had Mookie [Lee’s character in Do the Right Thing] take a picture with the pizza boxes. That’s a Brooklyn Dodgers jersey. The Dodgers were in Brooklyn before they moved to Los Angeles and the jersey is a Jackie Robinson jersey. Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play baseball. He wore number 42.”
“I forgot where this picture was taken, but I like it a lot! This was actually made into a postcard.”
“This was not taken on the set of Do the Right Thing – this is actually in a studio. We created a still for the film. This is the actor Danny Aiello who played Sal, and the rest weren’t even in the film – they were just extras.”
“What you see right there is a piece of art that was from the film ‘Mo Better Blues and this was in Bleek Gilliam’s loft. It’s not the real scoreboard, but a scoreboard of Brooklyn Dodgers against the Yankees.”
The New Era x Spike Lee x New York Yankees Championship 59FIFTY cap at New Era Carnaby Street.