There was little question that Jim Thome was going to wear a Cleveland Indians cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. He said today, however, that he does not want the Indians cap he wore for the vast majority of his time in Cleveland to be depicted. Specifically, he does not want Chief Wahoo on his cap. He wants the block-C:
“I know my decision would be to wear the ‘C’ because I think it’s the right thing to do,” Thome said. “I think I need to have a conversation with the Hall of Fame because of all the history and everything involved. I just think that’s the right thing to do.”
Hall of Fame inductees are allowed to voice their preference of the cap for their plaque, but the Hall of Fame gets final say on the matter in order to maintain a semblance of historical accuracy. In the past, that role has been exclusively dedicated to policing the choice of which team’s cap a player who played on multiple teams was wearing in order not to show him wearing a cap of a team for which he only briefly played. I am not aware of an instance in which a player chose to wear an uncommon cap design for a team which, otherwise, would be acceptable on the plaque.
For what it’s worth, the Indians wore Chief Wahoo caps for most of Thome’s career. From 1991 through 2002, Wahoo was the primary cap for Thome’s Indians, with an “Script-I” cap serving as an occasional alternate. In his second, brief stint with the Indians in 2011, the club did wear a block-C alternate cap.
If that was all that had happened, the Hall could very well tell Thome, sorry, but Wahoo it is. Obviously, however, the situation has changed, with Major League Baseball and the Indians announcing that Wahoo would be discontinued following the 2018 season, primarily because the logo — which is clearly a racist depiction of a cartoonish Native American — is in poor taste. In light of that, it would not be surprising to see the hall grant Thome’s wish to put the block-C on his plaque.