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A Hall of Fame Cap Debate, Solved

Mike Piazza will likely become a Hall of Famer this evening, which almost certainly means we’ll see a revival of the debate that ensued when he retired: Should his Hall of Fame plaque show him wearing a Dodgers cap or a Mets cap? A case could be made for either one, but here’s a simple solution: Why not avoid the argument altogether and just show Piazza wearing a backwards catcher’s helmet (something like the image shown at right), no team logo required?

That got me thinking: Have any other catchers been shown wearing a backwards cap or helmet, or any other catching gear on their Hall of Fame plaques?

This turns out to be a fairly easy thing to research. There are currently 310 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Of those, 16 were catchers (or principally catchers, since most of them played other positions here and there, just as Piazza occasionally did). I looked up their Hall plaques and gathered them into this slideshow (if you can’t see images, click here):

As you can see, all 16 players are shown wearing front-facing caps. In fact, none of them appears to be wearing any kind of catching gear except for former Negro Leagues player Louis Santop, whose plaque image shows a hint of a chest protector, and was clearly based on a photo in which he was wearing full gear:

I guess that isn’t so surprising, since Hall of Fame plaque images tend to be head/shoulder portraits, not action shots. And besides, most position players who make it Cooperstown get there because of their hitting, not their position play. Still, I think a shot of Piazza with a backwards helmet would be a nice way to avoid the team logo conundrum, plus it would open new ground in Hall plaque design. I’m hoping they go that route.

• • • • •

PermaRec update: The Hoge Brush Company — a broom and brush manufacturer from Ohio — no longer exists, but I’ve recently been made privy to a bunch of old letters from their files. The letters were typed on gorgeous letterhead, and the letters themselves provide really interesting peeks into a now-bygone industry. I’m using these letters as the basis for a new series of Permanent Record entries. Here’s the first one.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: DIY genius Wafflebored’s latest tour de force is a gorgeous patchwork jersey. ”¦ New uniforms for Tennessee (from Andrew Griffy).

NFL News: Pretty sure we’ve seen this before, but once more won’t hurt: a 1970s ad featuring a helmet shell adorned with mini-helmet shells! Love it (from Randy Adkins). ”¦ Shocker of the day: Former Bears LB Brian Urlacher has hair! Not only that, but he got it via an eight-hour follicle-replacement surgical procedure (thanks, Mike) ”¦ Businesses and teams in and around Seattle are showing their support for the Seahawks in this weekend’s Wild Card game by playing “monkey see, monkey do” on Twitter (from @PleatedFront). ”¦ This is pretty awesome: an article about vintage Chargers pennants (from Jeff Flynn). ”¦ “I’m usually not a fan of ‘funny’ T-shirts,” says Andrew Costentino, “but this one is phenomenal!” ”¦ Sooooo many uni-notable aspects to this old photo of Mike Ditka in short-shorts (from Pat Johnson).

College Football News: West Virginia’s field is getting resurfaced (From @cDubya242). ”¦ An Ohio State professor used more than a million Lego pieces to create a replica of the OSU stadium.

NBA News: I’m usually a fan of color vs. color, but going green vs. grey, as the Bucks and Bulls did last night, is not the way to go. The refs wore white to avoid confusion. Here’s a closer look (thanks, Phil).

College Hoops News: Here’s a piece on the evolution of the Providence Friars’ mascot, Friar Dom, who’s described as America’s creepiest mascot (from Tris Wykes).

Grab Bag: New home soccer kit for Colombia. … New mask design for Milwaukee Admirals goaltender Juuse Saros. … Whoa, check out this artist who makes incredibly intricate cut-paper models of rollercoasters! Incredible stuff. ”¦ The car that Ryan Hunter-Reay drove while winning the 2015 Indy 500 is up for auction. ”¦ Fun art project: A British guy is taking photos of angry notes left on people’s windshields (from Ted Anthony). ”¦ Love this: 10 1950s Brunswick lanes in a church basement in Omaha. And it’s called the Bowlatorium! Might have to make a trip (big thanks to former Uni Watch bench coach Bryan Redemske). ”¦ New 50th-anniversary logo for Penske Racing (from David Firestone). ”¦ “Pro tennis player Tomas Berdych recently switched his apparel sponsor from the fashion-oreinted H&M to the more traditional Adidas,” says Kerry Hudson. “Here’s an article featuring his top 10 H&M outfits.”

58 comments to A Hall of Fame Cap Debate, Solved

  • Dumb Guy | January 6, 2016 at 8:34 am |

    I am clearly out of the loop (I didn’t even know there was a loop), so I don’t get the “phenomenal” funny t-shirt.

    :^\

  • MotorCityJeff | January 6, 2016 at 8:42 am |

    Rgarding HOF caps, I’ve often wondered why the simple solution isn’t a profile depiction as Yogi Berra has (and is in Paul’s gallery). In his case he didn’t need this treatment since he certainly went in as a Yankee but seems like an easy solution for those players that played for several teams.

    • arrScott | January 6, 2016 at 9:47 am |

      In Piazza’s case, obviously he should go into the Hall with a Padres cap. #FinalPostseasonAppearance (kidding!) In general, I’d like to see more variety of treatment. Catchers, in particular, I’d like to see depicted more frequently in defensive gear, including backwards helmets for modern-era players. For players better known for their bats than their positions, I’d love to see the occasional batting helmet in place of soft caps, and the occasional over-the-shoulder view like a batting stance. And too many pitcher plaques just look like they’re taking a passport photo; guys like Nolan Ryan would be better represented with portraits that resemble their expressions when pitching.

      • Dave Mac | January 6, 2016 at 11:26 am |

        What about the Marlins?

        But seriously, is this a big debate among Dodgers and Mets fan? I can see how it would be problematic, how do you choose? I think Randy Johnson had a similar problem based on his history with the Mariners and Diamondbacks, but ultimately chose to have Arizona and his cap.

        • Brian E | January 6, 2016 at 11:37 am |

          I don’t think it’s much of a debate. Of course, I can’t speak for Dodgers fans, but from a Mets fan perspective: Piazza has said he wants to go in as a Met, and he made his lone World Series appearance as a Met. He played in 246 more games as a Met, and broke the home runs by a catcher record as a Met. Plus the post-9/11 home run is one of baseball’s most signature moments.

          Granted, I’m a Mets fan, but I can appreciate his place in Dodgers history. As a catcher, I grew up idolizing Piazza when he broke in with the Dodgers, and was blown away when he came to New York. So I’m not trying to diminish him accomplishments as a Dodger. But I think it’s…80/20 that he’ll go in as a Met.

        • Paul Lukas | January 6, 2016 at 11:47 am |

          Piazza has said he wants to go in as a Met, and he made his lone World Series appearance as a Met. He played in 246 more games as a Met, and broke the home runs by a catcher record as a Met. Plus the post-9/11 home run is one of baseball’s most signature moments.

          Almost all of these points are irrelevant. (The one about breaking the catcher’s HR record is particularly meaningless, since it’s obviously impossible to break a career record early in one’s career.) The only relevant question is this: With which team did he make his biggest impact and have his best years? On balance, if you look at the numbers, I think the answer in Piazza’s case is the Dodgers, but only by a slight amount.

          Also: Regardless of how this debate is resolved, he does not “go in as” a Met or a Dodger; he goes in as Mike Piazza, period. The question is simply which team (if any) is depicted on his plaque.

        • David W | January 6, 2016 at 12:37 pm |

          To be clear, it’s not up to the player. It is the Hall’s decision as to what logo to use. From their website:
          Who decides what team logo will be used on Hall of Fame plaques?
          The choice of which team’s logo appears on a player’s plaque is the Museum’s decision, though we always consider the wishes of an inductee. As a history Museum, it’s important that the logo be emblematic of the historical accomplishments of that player’s career. A player’s election to the Hall of Fame is a career achievement, and as such, every team for whom he played is listed on the plaque; however, the logo selection is based on where that player makes his most indelible mark.

          I recall a few years back some feud a player had with his “primary” team where he basically “asked” that there be no logo on the cap. Naturally, the Hall declined his wishes and put an actual logo on there.

        • JTH | January 6, 2016 at 3:03 pm |

          Dude, the HOF class of 2014 had TWO guys go in with blank caps on their plaques.

  • Rob S | January 6, 2016 at 8:54 am |

    Proofreading:
    I guess that isn’t so surprising, since Hall of Fame plaque images tend not to be head/shoulder portraits, not action shots.

    Looks like one of those “not”s doesn’t belong.

    • Paul Lukas | January 6, 2016 at 9:12 am |

      Fixed.

  • James Steever | January 6, 2016 at 9:03 am |

    At some point, doesn’t the National Baseball Hall of Fame have the responsibility to include an interactive robust lush video highlight package of each member (besides their individual plaque)? Seriously, even the Cubs finally installed modern technology into Wrigley.

    • Toddro | January 6, 2016 at 11:11 am |

      I really hope not. The plaques are very much a tradition that should never change.

    • David W | January 6, 2016 at 12:41 pm |

      The glitz is all upstairs. And I agree that perhaps an addition to the hall that sort of mirrors the plaque room but with modern tech exhibits for each player would be a fabulous addition. That said, the Hall is for plaques and it is a great reverential way to honor players through time. Simple.

      • Paul Lukas | January 6, 2016 at 12:56 pm |

        It’s important to remember the full name of the institution: The National Baseball Hall of Fame AND MUSEUM (emphasis mine).

        Two parts are distinct. The Hall is, you know, a hall, with the plaques; the museum is all the rest.

  • Jerry | January 6, 2016 at 9:09 am |

    I don’t think a catcher wearing a batting helmet backwards makes the helmet generic or unidentifiable. To most people yes, they wouldn’t recognize what font or style a team uses for the back of their helmet. That said, a uni driven fan (most people reading this) would either recognize a teams batting help style from the rear or take a few moments to look it up. I guess you could make the rear facing helmet on the plaque with no number or labeling at all but by doing that it would be the equal of simply having the players wearing a forward facing hat or helmet with no logo at all.

    • MotorCityJeff | January 6, 2016 at 9:15 am |

      Except today the helmets catchers (and base coaches) wear do not always match the team’s style of batting helmet because they really aren’t batting helmets since they are all flapless.

  • Derek | January 6, 2016 at 9:40 am |

    I think it’s pretty obvious what cap to put Piazza in… Marlins haha. Avoid the entire Mets/Dodgers argument.

    Side note, odds are pretty slim that we’ll ever see the Florida “F” on anyone’s plaque. Shame considering two World Series were won with that cap. Fingers crossed for an ownership change and name reversion sometime down the line.

    • Komet17 | January 6, 2016 at 12:45 pm |

      Don’t think that will happen; as I recall, part of the new ballpark financing agreement with the City of Miami included the change from “Florida” to “Miami.” I would imagine that contractual agreement would still be binding even with new ownership.

  • Eriq Jaffe | January 6, 2016 at 9:41 am |

    Am I the only person who thinks that the hair maikes Brian Urlacher look unnervingly like Kevin James?

    • Charles | January 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm |

      I think he looks more like Daniel Craig’s beefcake brother

  • Mr. F | January 6, 2016 at 10:11 am |

    I remember an old Sports Illustrated suggesting the backwards cap for Carlton Fisk (might be available in their Vault according to Google, but I couldn’t view it).

  • walter | January 6, 2016 at 10:20 am |

    New uniforms for Tennessee (from Andrew Griffy).

    I confess to being mildly irritated by scripts and wordmarks carried between sports without regard for appearance, in the name of “branding”. “Tennessee” on the road jersey could stand to be condensed and arched; it doesn’t need to be an oblong. Straight-across lettering doesn’t work in baseball. You heard me, Cubs, Rays and Phillies.

    • arrScott | January 6, 2016 at 10:57 am |

      Straight-across lettering doesn’t work in baseball. You heard me, Cubs, Rays and Phillies.

      Darn right. Except for the Phillies, who make it work with good proportions. Loathe as I am to say anything nice about the Phils. It’s a case where breaking the rule is bad, but transcending it is good.

      • walter | January 6, 2016 at 11:36 am |

        Actually, arr, you’re right. I was set to refute your claim with an arched Philly script, a la the “Kansas City” on the first-year Royals’ jersey. But I couldn’t find it. Either I misremembered it, or I was looking at old pictures where the players had droopy flannel uniforms. Well played, sir.

        • arrScott | January 6, 2016 at 1:45 pm |

          Though to be fair, while I think the Phillies manage to look good with flat script despite flat script being a generally terrible idea, that’s still a second-rate jersey treatment for a franchise that once looked like this.

  • Alex | January 6, 2016 at 11:33 am |

    So I didn’t notice earlier, but the 7-11’s in my area have NFL Big Gulp straws for sale. They are really chincy looking, but I didn’t see them until today.

  • Dane | January 6, 2016 at 11:39 am |

    The NHL All-Star jerseys have been officially unveiled.

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=796215&navid=nhl:topheads

    They are black and white, because piano keys are black and white.. of course.

    • Ryan M | January 6, 2016 at 11:53 am |

      “For the on-ice version of the All-Star jersey, the crest has been constructed with reflective material which glimmers in certain light as a salute to Nashville’s vibrant night-life scene.”

      http://www.lolwut.com/layout/lolwut.jpg

    • Charles | January 6, 2016 at 2:17 pm |

      Someone needs to make a rule that press statements are no longer allowed to offer justification for a design. Any references to cities/culture/history should be obvious enough to understand right away, otherwise they’re BS. Other than that, a design should be judged on its own merit, period.

  • walter | January 6, 2016 at 11:39 am |

    This is pretty awesome: an article about vintage Chargers pennants (from Jeff Flynn).

    Thanks for helping me to get my geek on this morning!

  • Ryan M | January 6, 2016 at 11:51 am |

    Whoa… what’s adidas doing to Colombia?! First, they abandon the country’s long-standing use of yellow over navy with red socks for yellow shirts with white shorts and socks for the ’14 World Cup. Now a white home shirt?

  • Sean | January 6, 2016 at 12:01 pm |

    I like the idea of a backward catcher’s cap in Cooperstown, but I’m not sure that Piazza is even the most deserving guy on this year’s ballot of a backward cap:

    http://strictlyfitteds.com/sites/default/files/griffey-junior-home-run-derby-cap-swing.jpg

    • Paul Lukas | January 6, 2016 at 12:05 pm |

      Good one!

  • mild bill | January 6, 2016 at 12:17 pm |

    Worst part of that Ditka photo has to be the disco-era perm.

    • riblet | January 6, 2016 at 1:17 pm |

      Made worse by the fact it was post-disco-era.

      Cmon Juice-Box, I expect better from you.

  • muddlehead | January 6, 2016 at 12:24 pm |

    Why doesn’t United tackle the Dolphins and Vikings?

  • Eric Romain | January 6, 2016 at 12:24 pm |

    I’m surprised to learn there was a H&M sponsored athlete. One of the reasons I’ve bought some of my sweat pants and such there is due to their lack of visible branding.

  • JTH | January 6, 2016 at 12:45 pm |

    Can debates be solved?

    @Mr. F: I remember my dad suggesting that Fisk’s plaque should show him wearing his helmet with the catcher’s mask perched on top. I have no idea if he got that idea from the SI article, but he said this years before Fisk actually retired.

  • Mark Phippard | January 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm |

    I wonder if there is a “story” behind Yogi Berra’s plaque? It is interesting that he is shown with a profile so you do not see the NY logo on his cap. I wonder if there are any other players as high profile as he was … and definitely associated with one team … that does not show their cap on their plaque?

  • riblet | January 6, 2016 at 1:23 pm |

    Griffey wears a Mariners cap, correct?

    Wouldnt that make him the first, assuming Edgar doesn’t also make it this year?

  • duker | January 6, 2016 at 1:29 pm |

    Looking at the Chargers pennants I thought how odd it was that the stylized character was the second letter. Then with the image of the player running with the ball, I realized the “H” is a goalpost!

    Wow, how could I have missed that before.

  • tehuti | January 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm |

    As a Mets fan I am biased. But Piazza did play more games in a Mets uniform and reached his milestones as a Met. Plus I believe he expressed a desire to go in with a Mets cap, although I know that is no longer up to the players.

    • Paul Lukas | January 6, 2016 at 5:26 pm |

      Again, these standards are irrelevant.

      1) “Piazza did play more games in a Mets uniform”: Quantity of games is not a relevant metric. *Quality* of games is what matters. For which team did the player have the most Hall-worthy seasons? (Or to put it another way: As a Mets fan, do you really want the Hall to look too closely at Piazza’s last three seasons in New York, which were ordinary at best? Right, didn’t think so.)

      2) “[Piazza] reached his milestones as a Met”: As noted in an earlier thread, this is a pointless metric, because — duh — any player who changes teams will reach his “career milestones” with the team(s) toward the end of his career, so his earlier team(s) would be disqualified from Hall plaque consideration. Asinine. (One could also argue that Piazza reached his “career milestones” in Oakland, since that’s the team for which he hit his final homers, knocked in his final runs, etc.)

      3) “he expressed a desire to go in with a Mets cap”: As you yourself have acknowledged, this is not relevant. Gary Carter wanted a Mets cap too, but the Hall decided (properly) to give him an Expos cap.

      Let’s try to remove emotion and faulty logic from the discussion, shall we? Thanks.

  • walter | January 6, 2016 at 6:11 pm |

    DIY genius Wafflebored’s latest tour de force is a gorgeous patchwork jersey.

    Gorgeous and unique. Can you imagine trying to mass-produce those?!?

  • JTH | January 6, 2016 at 6:46 pm |

    So who are the three assholes who DIDN’T vote for Griffey? I’m sure they’ll gladly let us know in the very near future via some self-righteous bullshit article/interview/blog post, etc.

    • Paul Lukas | January 6, 2016 at 6:55 pm |

      What exactly is the harm? Maybe they figured Griffey was a lock and that they could therefore use their votes more constructively on more borderline candidates. I’m not saying that’s what I would have done, but I don’t really see the point of being angry about the fact that Griffey received “only” 99.3%. You know he was a HoFer, and so do I, and he’s in. What’s the problem?

  • Steve D | January 6, 2016 at 7:36 pm |

    I wonder if there is a “story” behind Yogi Berra’s plaque? It is interesting that he is shown with a profile so you do not see the NY logo on his cap.

    I think there very well might be. Yogi was fired by the Yankees after only one year as manager in 1964. He went over to play a few games for the Mets, became their first base coach for years and became their manager in 1972 – the year he was inducted into the hall. There had to be a ton of animosity toward the Yankees on his part. We know he could hold a grudge…when George fired him, he stayed away for 14 years. He possibly requested the cap not have the Yankee logo.

  • diggerjohn | January 6, 2016 at 8:47 pm |

    While I agree with the sentiment. Piazza himself stated he wants to go in as a Met, and as a lifelong Mets’ fan, like yourself, we have ONE guy in there, Seaver. Let the Mets have Piazza, the Dodgers have loads. I love the compromise, but Mets’ fans have been getting the short end of the stick from MLB and the media for decades, give this to the Amazin’s faithful.

    • Paul Lukas | January 6, 2016 at 8:56 pm |

      This “argument,” such as it is, is irrelevant. The Hall is not concerned (nor should it be) with how many Mets caps are shown on plaques. And as we’ve already discussed several times today, the player’s own preferences are also irrelevant, because players may have all sorts of emotional and/or financial reasons for such preferences (petty vendettas, personal-services contracts with a given team [or aspirations of same]), etc.

      None of this has anything to do with history, and history is the only thing that’s relevant. With which team did the player have his most Hall-worthy performances? That’s the only question that matters — all the rest is just noise.

  • Chris | January 6, 2016 at 11:11 pm |

    MLB Radio is reporting that the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant All-Ringer team is not up to 3 Hall of Famers: https://twitter.com/MLBNetworkRadio/status/684882120846749696