Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that Mike Mussina’s cap will be blank on his Hall of Fame plaque. This puts to rest the little debate about whether he’d honor the Orioles or the Yankees when he’s inducted this summer.
The debate was pretty straight forward: he pitched for more years and was a better overall pitcher in Baltimore, but he had more glory and postseason appearances with the Yankees, finishing his career there with the only 20-win season of his career. There were reasonable arguments to be made in favor of either cap. And some unreasonable ones.
While it was once a rarity, an increasing number of inductees have gone with blank caps in recent years. This is due, no doubt, to the greater player mobility brought on by free agency and the fact that one club no longer necessarily defines a player or manager’s career. The visages of Greg Maddux, Tony La Russa and fellow 2019 inductee Roy Halladay will all live for eternity with blank caps due to them starring for multiple clubs. Before that Catfish Hunter and Yogi Berra chose blank caps as well.
While it was once solely the choice of the inductee, for the past couple of decades the Hall of Fame has had final say on the caps so as to prevent a situation in which a cap truly misrepresents history. This issue arose around the time Wade Boggs was inducted, as he reportedly had a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to pick their cap on his plaque which, to say the least, would’ve been unrepresentative. In the case of Mussina, either the O’s or Yankees probably would’ve been OK’d, but he has chosen to avoid the question.