Take it from Vernon Fiddler, the holder of George Strait’s very last black Resistol show hat. This is how it’s done. Fiddler caught the hat from Strait at his last show on Saturday (June 7) in Arlington, Texas, where he’d played for a record-breaking crowd of 104,793 at AT&T Stadium.
Fiddler, a Dallas Stars hockey player, was at the show just for the love of the music. He told me he had listened to old-school country growing up in Western Canada. Then he played for the Nashville Predators for six years — from 2002-2009 — and country music was all around him. So when he heard Strait was coming to Texas, he had to go.
Although his touring days are done, Strait has indicated he’s open to singing at special events in the coming years. So I thought it would be a good idea to retrace Fiddler’s steps in case there’s ever a chance to catch a cowboy hat from Strait again.
1. Have excellent seats. “I was sitting in section 108, in about the sixth row on the floor, and Strait was right in front of me when it happened.”
2. Be in the right place at the right time. “I can’t believe I’m the one. But out of all those people, I got the hat.”
3. Know the meaning behind the music. “My favorite song of the night was ’Cowboy Rides Away,’ his last song of the show, because it was so fitting for this concert because he’s done doing concerts.
4. Watch for the cues. “He’d said his goodbyes, took his guitar off, then he took his hat off and threw it into the crowd. It kind of boomeranged around, and then it hit me right in the chest. I grabbed it.”
5. Keep expectations low. “You don’t expect to catch anything. But then it happened, and it all happened so fast. I remember grabbing it and feeling it, and I protected myself because everyone was kind of scrambling.”
6. Know the hat’s value. “People were swarming around me to touch it and get their picture with it. A guy offered me his Rolex for it. And I’ve had other calls from people who want to buy it, and from the Country Music Hall of Fame that wants to display it. But I don’t want to let it go. Then again, I don’t want it collecting dust either. I think it’ll be cool to tell the story to grandkids someday.”