The A's Banjo Man is also a propeller hat entrepreneur
On A's game days, you can find Banjo Man roaming around O.co Coliseum, strumming on his five-string and chanting, "We're Number One!" During business hours, though, he's Stacy Samuels, founder of Interstellar Propeller, the company that he says is "changing the way America flies and flying the way America changes."
Out of his humble office on a quiet street corner in Berkeley, Samuels says he's sold more than 1.5 million propeller hats since the first one was conceived by friend and Bay Area counterculture icon Wavy Gravy in 1976.
"The most fun hat in the world today," Samuels says. "It's guaranteed to keep you warm, get you high and keep you cool. All at the same time."
Around the time Wavy Gravy thought of the propeller baseball cap, Samuels started going to A's games on a regular basis. He got his start as Banjo Man at Golden State Warriors games in 1981, before playing at 49ers games in 1983 and eventually A's games in 1985, where he's been a fixture ever since.
Samuels' famed propeller caps have ended up in the hands of all-time greats like Joe DiMaggio, who used to attend A's games in the 1980s, and Rickey Henderson, who Samuels tracked down in Cooperstown during Henderson's Hall of Fame induction weekend.
"I go out and find him on the street and said, 'Rickey, I've got this hat for you,'" Samuels said. "He goes, 'Oh you got it? Well let me have it.' I didn't have it, so he said, 'I'll wait.' So I come back 10-15 minutes later from my car and I presented him with a beany cap with a solid gold and silver propeller. It was so cool."
The sweet headgear has also made waves in pop culture, being featured in a 90s Taco Bell commercial with Shaquille O'Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon and more recently in the Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn film "The Internship."
At the peak of production, Samuels was pumping out about 180,000 hats a year. Now that figure has dropped to below 20,000, as the three-man company takes the custom-made caps and adds the proper propeller and accessories by hand. If you want your very own propeller hat, you can get one here.
-- Alex Espinoza / MLB.com Real-Time Correspondent