“‘The kids were just fantastic. They wore “rally caps.” Nick Leyva had them turn their hats inside out and we all wore them that way. It’s jut an example of the spirit we have.” Ben Hines, coach of La Verne College baseball team in California, quoted by Don Bradley, Pomona (CA) Bulletin, May 20, 1975, p8.
“Behind 2-0 to Linfield, (Ore.) when the game was suspended by rain Thursday night, LaVerne used its rally hats to come back from a 4-0 deficit to pull out a 6-4 win over Linfield in 11 innings Friday afternoon.” Pomona (CA) Bulletin, May 24, 1975, p7.
- NOTE: Nick Leyva later played and managed in the majors. At least two of his teammates on the La Verne team also made it to the majors: Dan Quisenberry and Dan Graham.
These are the earliest uses I’ve found of the terms “rally cap” and “rally hat”. But the two earlier (August 29, 1973) wire service photos below, the first from AP and the second from UPI, though they don’t use the term, show Giants manager Charlie Fox and a couple of his players with their caps turned inside out to “hopefully bring some hits” .
Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
No specific first use shown, but the Dictionary notes that “The superstitious notion began with the Texas Rangers in 1977–1979 and the Univ. of Texas in the late 1970s, and became popular during the 1986 season as the New York Mets, Houston Astros, and Boston Red Sox, among others, each came up with their own version. “