It all started with a trip to Canton, Ohio, to watch Warren Sapp get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It was 2011, and newspaper sports reporter Joey Johnston had just walked into a Tilted Kilt restaurant after a long trip where he had a chance to watch his son, Joey Johnston Jr., pitch for the Keystone Little League team. He was proudly donning his Keystone baseball cap, and that gave one of his dinner companions an idea.
“One of my colleagues said, ‘Why don’t you ask the waitress to wear the cap, and I’ll take a picture of you,’” Johnston said. “She put it on her head, and we got a picture, and it was pretty funny.”
The next day, Johnston attended an event at the Hall of Fame where he had a chance to see some former Tampa Bay Buccaneers players he covered as a writer for The Tampa Tribune, like quarterback Brad Johnson.
“I got my cap on my head, and remembering the night before, thought it might be fun if I asked Brad to do the same thing,” Johnston said. And he did.
Seeing that the different sports celebrities in attendance were having fun with it, Johnston kept it going, asking people like ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman, and even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to pose, and all of them do.
“I started putting the pictures on my Facebook page, and I knew the parents would get a kick out of it,” Johnston said.
However, the journey of the Keystone cap almost stopped right there. It was fun to do at the Hall of Fame event, but even celebrities wearing a baseball hat has to get stale at some point.
“I came back, and I sort of didn’t do it for a while,” Johnston said. “Then, several months later, I somehow got into the habit of taking that cap wherever I went. It didn’t take long, but if I ran into somebody, I would ask them to pose with the cap.”
It’s a tradition that continues to this day, giving Keystone Little League — which draws players from all over the surrounding area, including Pasco County — a chance to rival the exposure Plant High School received from baseball caps worn by Brad and Monica Culpepper in a season of “Survivor” on CBS.
Throughout all the famous people who have since posed with the Keystone cap, parents and friends on Facebook keep asking for more.
“It’s a lot of pressure, and I try to do my best while they patiently wait for the next one,” Johnston said. “I think they’re sort of amazed on who has worn it so far. They think it’s funny.”
Johnston keeps the photos in an album on his Facebook, but has plans for something a little bigger.
“I’m thinking I would like to do a little book on the team over the past two years, and maybe I can have it done in time for Christmas for the parents,” he said. “It wouldn’t be anything too major, but might be a nice keepsake for them.”
Johnston doesn’t let his hobby interfere with his work, but he’s always looking for an appropriate time somewhere to bring out his cap.
“It’s just pure fun,” he said. “We do it for laughs, and it’s great trying to find unusual people to wear the hat.”
He’s always scouting for new prospects.
“I’m going to try and milk it for a few more months,” he said. “I’ve got Lovie Smith on my radar.”
Getting to know Joey Johnston
Some of the people who have mugged it up with the Keystone Little League cap include:
- Ronde Barber, retired cornerback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Derrick Brooks, Hall of Fame linebacker with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Bob Buckhorn, mayor of Tampa
- Billy Donovan, head coach of the Florida Gators men’s basketball team
- Tony Dungy, former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts
- Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League
- Jon Gruden, former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- John Lynch, retired strong safety with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Joe Maddon, manager of the Tampa Bay Rays
- Kelly Nash, Sun Sports broadcast team
- Jerry Springer, syndicated talk show host
- Stu Sternberg, principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rays
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders
- Tim Tebow, free agent football quarterback
- Dick Vitale, former coach and ESPN broadcaster
Published August 27, 2014
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