Yesterday’s announcement that Mike Piazza will be wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque made sense to me. I, personally, am one of the few people who tend to think of him as a Dodger first, but from a historical and cultural perspective Piazza as a Met is probably more satisfying. His better play happened in Los Angeles, but his more memorable moments and his overall image is as a Met. And, of course, it was his preference, so there is no controversy to be had with this.
Not everyone is 100% happy about it, of course. Apparently Tommy Lasorda is a bit disappointed. That makes sense too given that Lasorda and his friendship with Piazza’s father had a whole heck of a lot to do with Piazza being noticed and, ultimately, drafted. I’m sure that Lasorda isn’t truly angry about it — it’s a funny little idea and I’m sure he and Piazza will trade jokes over it — but I’m generally happy with anything that upsets Tommy Lasorda even a little bit, so this is good from that perspective too.
The logos on Hall of Fame caps have been discussed at length in recent years. It’s been a fairly lively topic at least since Wade Boggs caused a stir when it was suggested that he had an agreement with Tampa Bay to have a Devil Rays cap featured on his Hall of Fame plaque. Either because of that — or by virtue of a grand coincidence — the Hall took the choice away from the players after that and decided that it, with an eye toward properly representing the players’ history, would make the final decision.
The player has input still, and the Hall will go pretty far to accommodate those wishes as long as the choice is not blatantly ahistorical. This is why some guys have blank caps now. The most recent blanks: Greg Maddux and Tony La Russa, much to the chagrin of Cubs, Braves, A’s and Cardinals fans, I suppose. I certainly was miffed that Maddux didn’t have a Braves cap on. His best, most and most famous seasons all happened in Atlanta. But I get it. He has a fondness for his years in Chicago, still works with the Cubs in spring training sometimes and his personal opinions are due respect.
Ultimately, that’s what the caps on the plaques are all about, I suppose. As fans we spend decades making players our own. Judging them. Demanding things of them. Even if they’re more than accommodating in that regard, the fans have an inordinate claim on a player’s time and his image. With the caps on the plaques, the player is given the last word on how he will be remembered, at least within reason. And it’s hard to take issue with that.
Even if Greg Maddux SHOULD TOTALLY BE WEARING A BRAVES CAP.