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Tilling up all things Tilley

It’s funny how sometimes you’re thinking about something for really no reason, and then something else pops into your head and you wonder if there’s a connection.

Last week, I went out for a walk later in the morning than I normally do. It wasn’t super hot yet, about 18C, but the sun was shining pretty good, so I decided I’d better wear a hat.

I grabbed my go-to hat for being outside. It is a Tilley hat, and I wear it mainly because of a nametag sewn on the inside. It reads “K. Wishart.” The hat was one my Dad wore in his later years, and I was very happy to receive it after he passed away.

So I was wearing my Tilley hat, and I started wondering why it was called a Tilley hat. I did some research when I got home (translation: I googled ‘Tilley’ hat) and found out, big surprise, that it was named after Alex Tilley, a Canadian who founded the company in 1980.

That last part surprised me. The Tilley hat is such a seemingly obvious piece of clothing, I figured it had been around a lot longer than that.

But I was wrong, which happens quite frequently.

However, before I got home from my walk that sunny morning and my exhaustive research on the Tilley hat, another ‘Tilley’ thought occurred to me, and it was one that many of my readers would probably not have connected with.

The New Yorker magazine has frequently featured a cartoon drawing of a monocled man on its front cover. Sometime in the past, I learned his name was Eustace Tilley, and that name has stuck with me for some reason.

I may see someone on the street who I have known for years and not remember their name, but I know the cartoonish fop on The New Yorker covers is Eustace Tilley.

A story I found online from The New Yorker in 2005 explained the history of Eustace and its connection to the magazine itself. It was a fun read. I learned very little I didn’t already know about Eustace Tilley already, but I did learn more than I had known about The New Yorker.

That left only one thing left to do about the Tilley name. I went to Baseball Reference online and looked for baseball players named ‘Tilley’.

There was one, an outfielder named John Tilley who played in the National League in 1882 and in the American Association and Union Association in 1884. In the two seasons, he hit a robust .138 in (coincidentally) 138 at-bats.

And now I have another Tilley to think about when I’m walking, shielded from the sun by my father’s hat.

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