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'Linsanity' merchandise is feather in New Era's cap Company capitalizes on Knick's popularity with Lin-themed hats

New Era Cap Co. is tipping its hat to Jeremy Lin, the basketball phenom taking New York City and the international sports world by storm.

The Buffalo-based cap and apparel maker on Tuesday began selling a licensed "Linsanity" New York Knicks cap at its stores in Buffalo and Manhattan.

New Era said it is ordering another batch of stretch-fit caps for the Buffalo store after going through a few dozen caps by midafternoon -- only four were left as of 3 p.m. -- and the company said the caps have sold well on its website, too.

"It's nice to have a product you can turn around so fast for the fans and capitalize on these great sports moments," said Dana Marciniak, a company spokeswoman.

The company produced similar special-edition caps to mark the demolition of Memorial Auditorium and to honor Derek Jeter reaching 3,000 hits as a member of the New York Yankees.

The company got the idea to make the Lin-themed caps a couple of weeks ago, after noticing the outpouring of attention Lin had generated since breaking into the Knicks' starting lineup.

Even casual sports fans have taken to Lin, a Harvard graduate and Asian-American in the National Basketball Association who was cut by two teams before catching on with the Knicks.

He has spawned thousands of puns beginning with the letters "L-I-N," along with a few racially fraught headlines.

New Era already is a licensed partner of the NBA and swiftly received permission to produce the caps, which feature "Linsanity," the Knicks logo and Lin's No. 17.

New Era representatives weren't sure how well the caps would sell here, because Buffalo isn't known as a pro-basketball-crazy community, Marciniak said.

But Buffalo is a sports town, and people want a connection to the latest big story no matter what the sport, said Damon Tate, the store's assistant manager.

"People will rush to get it, just to have it as a collector's item," Tate said.

Billy Rieck, the store's floor manager, added, "We sell a lot of Buffalo Braves stuff."

New Era produced three versions of the 39Thirty stretch-fit Lin caps at its Derby factory, with slight differences in color and style. The caps also are on sale on NBA.com and at Madison Square Garden.

The company will come out with 59Fifty fitted Lin caps on March 25, and also is producing women's "Linsanity" T-shirts, Marciniak said.

email: swatson@buffnews.com