Should the Baseball Hall Of Fame consider alternatives for player cap selections?
Andre Dawson was disappointed.
His desire to wear a Chicago Cubs hat on his plaque for his Hall of Fame induction this July was rejected by the Baseball Hall of Fame, who decided that Dawson's career was better represented as a member of the Montreal Expos. Dawson played for the Expos from 1976-1986, so it's a justifiable answer from the museum. However, Dawson won his only MVP Award with the Cubs in 1987, and made just as many post season appearances with the Cubs (1989) as he did with the Expos (1981).
Some have said Dawson's 1987 MVP performance for the Cubs was vindication for a man who was practically left for dead by Montreal and the rest of Major League Baseball for that matter during the era of collusion. Truth be told, Dawson doesn't have loyalty to either Montreal or Chicago, having left both towns on bad terms. Dawson's preference to wear a Cubs cap was based on his affection for the fans of Chicago. He did say however, that playing for the Cubs is what made his chance for the Hall of Fame possible. Not that this means anything, but I'll be 32 next week, and Dawson will always be a Cub in my eyes.
The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's decision to reject Dawson's request is understandable due to his long tenure with Montreal, but it's an intriguing process nonetheless. Let's be honest, how serious IS the museum whether they allegedly take the players' preferred cap choice into consideration? As we previously mentioned, the most common answer the HOF provides is that the player will usually be inducted as a member of the team for which he is most recognizable.
Of course, there are other alternatives. The late "Catfish" Hunter chose to go into the HOF wearing no emblem on his cap. In 2001 however, it was decided that the museum would make the final decision regarding the cap the player wore on his plaque. Rumors started circulating that several organizations offered newly enshrined players "fringe benefits" for wearing their team's respective cap on their plaques. Since that time, the players' input has been taken into consideration, but the final word is that of the museum. Here are some examples comparable to Dawson's dilemma. Keep in mind that some of these decisions were made prior to the rules being adjusted in 2001.
Carlton Fisk- HOF 2000
Fisk played two more years for the Chicago White Sox than the Boston Red Sox. Yet in July of 2000, Fisk was wearing a Red Sox hat on his plaque. To be fair, Fisk has never been afraid to speak his mind, and left on bad terms with both of those teams. However, his most memorable moment on the diamond (his Game Six home run in the 1975 World Series) occurred as a member of the Red Sox. However, he also set the all-time record for games caught as a member of the White Sox in 1993, although it was on a smaller stage than the World Series. Chicago then released Fisk about a week after accomplishing that feat. Go figure.
Reggie Jackson- HOF 1993
Jackson played only five years for the New York Yankees (one year less than Dawson for the Cubs), and won his only MVP award with the Oakland Athletics 1973. Moreover, Jackson won more titles (three compared to two with the Yankees) with the A's. However, Jackson can be found wearing a Yankees cap on his Cooperstown plaque. Jackson's legendary performance in the 1977 World Series as well as his strained relationship with the A's at the time of his induction may have taken part in giving the Yankees the slight edge.
Gary Carter- HOF 2003
Carter, not a bad guy but nonetheless always the politician, lobbied for his HOF induction as a Met prior to his enshrinement in 2003. Like his former teammate Dawson, however, it was decided by the museum that his best days were in an Expos uniform- a decision almost impossible to argue. However, Carter did win his only championship as a Met in 1986, and is more of a prominent figure in the Mets community than in the now defunct Montreal (now Washington) franchise.
Major League Baseball is the only sport of the four major sports' halls of fame that places a major emphasis on their inductees as a member of a certain team. We can talk about this until we're blue in the face, and the players may not agree with some of the museum's decisions. However, at the end of the day it is probably the best way to regulate the dilemma's of the players who do have duel loyalty towards certain organizations, and also as protection for any player who may one day fall under the temptation of having their palms greased (I am accusing nobody in particular of this action).
After all, if the players had 100% percent of the say in regards to inductions, could you imagine the possible scenarios if the players were crazy enough? Billy Williams inducted as an Oakland Athletic? Harmon Kilebrew as a Kansas City Royal? Jackson as a Baltimore Oriole?
Or even funnier, Ryne Sandberg as a Phillie?.....
On second thought, that's not very funny...