Greg Maddux and Tony La Russa Opt to Have No Logo on Their Hall of Fame Plaques
A baseball cap can be doffed, waved and turned around. It can fly off the head of an outfielder pursuing a fly ball or be pulled down over the forehead to frame a pitcher’s glare at a batter.
But regardless of what a player is doing, the cap is adorned with a logo, like the Yankees’ interlocking NY, Baltimore’s cartoon oriole or the Detroit Tigers’ Old English D.
Yet when the bronze plaques of Greg Maddux and Tony La Russa are unveiled at the annual induction ceremonies at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y., their caps will have no logos.
Faced with wearing a Braves cap or a Cubs cap on his plaque, Maddux chose neither. He won 194 regular-season games for Atlanta, helping the Braves reach the postseason 10 times, and 133 games for Chicago.
La Russa managed three teams and accumulated 2,728 victories. He decided in January that “the totality of the success of each of those teams” had helped him reach the Hall, although nearly half his career in the dugout was spent with the St. Louis Cardinals, who won two World Series during his tenure. The rest was with the Chicago White Sox, who fired him, and the Oakland Athletics.
This year’s four other inductees exhibited no such ambivalence. Frank Thomas picked a White Sox cap. Tom Glavine and his longtime manager, Bobby Cox, picked Braves caps. And Joe Torre, who would not have been elected to the Hall on the basis of managing the Mets, the Braves, the Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, chose the dark blue cap of the Yankees, with whom he won four World Series in 12 seasons.
Their choices were approved by the Hall of Fame, which has the final say on plaque headwear.
“It always starts with a conversation,” Jeff Idelson, the president of the Hall, said Tuesday. “We work with them with an eye toward 50 years from now, so that a casual visitor won’t look at their plaques, scratch their heads and say, ‘Huh?’ ”
He said Maddux and La Russa “had trouble discerning who they belong to, and ultimately, they decided they belonged to everybody.”
Idelson added, “They felt that going with no logo was fine, and we salute them for it.”
Had they chosen a logo, Maddux and La Russa risked offending fans in the cities that were not represented on their caps.
For decades, inductees could select the logo they desired on their caps. But in 2001, the Hall began to impose its final approval after consulting with the newly elected members.
In 2003, Gary Carter dropped hints that he would have liked his plaque to include a Mets cap, not the Montreal Expos cap that the Hall eventually mandated.
Seven years later, Andre Dawson wanted his plaque to show him wearing a Cubs cap, but the Hall decided that he was historically more of an Expo, so he is shown with the Expos’ script M logo. He had argued that his shorter tenure with the Cubs, which included the 1987 season, when he won the National League Most Valuable Player award, propelled him to enshrinement. He thought that his case would carry the day, but it did not.
With this year’s inductees, the Hall openly offered the blank-cap choice, a recognition of player movement in the free-agency era.
“We’re focused on the no-logo option instead of painting a player into one choice,” said Brad Horn, a spokesman for the Hall.
Still, the Hall could have required a Cardinals cap for La Russa’s plaque, given the length of his service and success in St. Louis. And Maddux could have been forced to accept a Braves cap.
Maddux’s and La Russa’s plaques will not be unique in the wood-paneled gallery at the Hall. Catfish Hunter preceded them in 1987. His career statistics were most impressive with the Athletics, for whom he pitched a perfect game in 1968. But he also helped form the foundation of the Yankees teams that won the 1977 and ’78 World Series. When he was asked to make a choice, he could not, and his cap is blank.
Dozens of players and managers, mostly from the earliest years of and from the Negro Leagues, do not have cap logos on their plaques.
Some played for teams whose caps did not yet feature letters or logos. And some wore the once-stylish pillbox caps with stripes that went one way or the other.
Grover Cleveland Alexander’s best years were with the Philadelphia Phillies, but he appears to be wearing a Cardinals-style cap that did not have a logo during his four seasons with the team, from 1926 to ’29.
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Nap Lajoie, Herb Pennock, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Buck Leonard and Johnny Evers (as well as Joe Tinker) are among the players whose caps are tipped back far enough on their plaques to prevent any logo from showing. The sculptor of Rube Waddell’s plaque seemed more enamored of Waddell’s hair, which is prominently shown, than his cap, which is set far back on his head.
Then there is Yogi Berra. He was indisputably a Yankee, notwithstanding four games in 1965 as a Met. A Yankee of his stature, with 358 home runs and the career records for hits and games played in the World Series, surely deserved full treatment on his Hall of Fame plaque. Yet he is shown in profile, leaving no room for the NY logo so prominent on the caps of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.
With Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, however, fans can expect them to be facing forward on their plaques, the Yankee letters visible on their bronze caps.