Newly-elected Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero met the press today and said that he would wear an Angels cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
While a lot of Hall of Famers have spent significant time in an Angels uniform — most notably Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson and Rod Carew — no player has worn an Angels cap on his Hall plaque before now. Ryan’s decision to don a Rangers cap on his plaque was particularly galling given that he played three more years with the Angels than with the Rangers and pitched more games for them and had more success with them than any of his other teams. With Guerrero, the Angels will finally get their due in Cooperstown.
Guerrero’s choice — which, unlike Ryan’s, required and received approval of the Hall of Fame — may still bug some folks in that he played far more games and had greater success with the Expos than with the Angels. Still, that Hall of Fame approval is not based solely on time served with each club. Inspired by concerns that future Hall of Famers may cut deals with teams regarding their cap choice — as Wade Boggs reportedly tried to do with the Devil Rays — The Hall’s approval process merely requires that the player’s choice not represent a distortion of the player’s historical legacy. Which means that if Vlad had picked an Orioles’ cap based on his one year in Baltimore at the end of his career it would’ve been rejected. He still starred and built his Hall of Fame case in Anaheim, however, winning his lone MVP Award for the Angels and making multiple postseason appearances. Even if he played two more seasons in Montreal, it’s not unreasonable for him to wear the Halo-A on his plaque, even if it rankles some.
There will be no controversy for Chipper Jones and Trevor Hoffman, who will obviously don Braves and Padres caps, respectively, on their plaques. Jim Thome will have a few more choices inasmuch as he starred for multiple teams, but given that he played for the Indians for more than three times as long as any of his other teams, it’ll likely be a Cleveland cap. The only other reasonable option — if he so chooses — would to wear a blank cap in deference to all of the teams he played for.
Whatever cap Guerrero wears, though, I presume that his status as the Expos’ last true star and Cooperstown’s proximity to Montreal will mean that the Expos faithful will still make their way to his induction this July.