The Baseball Hall of Fame announced the cap selections for the 2014 inductees, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas on Thursday. The big surprises came from La Russa and even more so from Maddux, both of whom will enter the HOF with blank caps.
For La Russa this makes sense. I know a lot of fans who were asking, “A’s or Cardinals? A’s or Cardinals?” Living in Northern California most were hoping for La Russa to enter the Hall with the cap of the Oakland Athletics. But the choice to enter such a prestigious, historical place as one thing or another has to be a hard decision to make, especially for La Russa and the HOF committee to make. The committee ultimately chooses the cap but they take the player/manager’s wishes into their consideration.
Prior to 2001 the player or manager was able to make the final decision upon which cap to wear into the HOF. There were, however, rumors that teams were offering compensation to former players/managers to wear a certain cap so the rule was changed and now the HOF committee gets the final say.
Many forget that La Russa was not only the manager for the Oakland Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals but also the Chicago White Sox. Granted his accomplishments in both St. Louis and Oakland were what made his career, it does make sense for that to be the real question. La Russa was manager of the White Sox for eight seasons, the Athletics for 10, and the Cardinals for his final 16 seasons.
He won three American League Pennants with the A’s, one World Series title and two Manager of the Year Awards. La Russa managed the Cardinals to two World Series victories, three National League Pennants and received one Manager of the Year Award. Add to that having managed the White Sox for close to a decade it makes sense that La Russa would not be able to choose, although personally I was pulling for Oakland.
Greg Maddux’s decision is a little harder to understand. Sure, he played for ten years with the Chicago Cubs but he is most remembered and made his most important accomplishments in his 11 years with the Atlanta Braves. He won three consecutive Cy Young Awards with the Braves and just one with the Cubs. Maddux had more wins (194) and a lower ERA (2.63) with the Braves than with the Cubs (133 wins, 3.61 ERA). He was also part of a famous trio of pitchers along with Tom Glavine and John Smoltz who dominated baseball in the early to mid 1990s. But Maddux eloquently and fairly explained his choice,
My wife Kathy and I grew up in baseball in Chicago, and then we had just an amazing experience in Atlanta with the Braves. It’s impossible for me to choose one of those teams for my Hall of Fame plaque, as the fans of both clubs in each of those were so wonderful. I can’t think of having my Hall of Fame induction without support of both of those fan bases, so, for that reason, the cap on my Hall of Fame plaque will not feature a logo.
That seems fair enough to me. Still being good to their fans, La Russa and Maddux will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame with blank caps. The other inductees’ choices were fairly easy. Joe Torre will go in as a Yankee, Bobby Cox as a Brave, Tom Glavine will also go in as a Brave, and Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas will go in as a member of the Chicago White Sox. I didn’t hold out hope as an A’s fan that Thomas would choose the A’s were he spent only two seasons but sure, that would have been cool.