When Hall of Fame induction weekend in July rolls around and I find myself standing in the middle of thousands of Cubs fans (and perhaps a few Nationals fans sprinkled throughout) in Cooperstown, NY to listen to Andre Dawson give his Hall of Fame induction speech, he MIGHT be wearing a Cubs cap. This has yet to be decided.
The cap on his Hall of Fame plaque however, this has been decided. Andre Dawson will enter the Hall of Fame, forever enshrined as a Montreal Expo.
I’m disappointed if only for Andre. Otherwise, I’m still thrilled for the guy.
He didn’t want to say the wrong thing or look like a bad guy, or offend an entire group of fans that may still hold their time rooting for the Expos dear to their hearts. That’s why he never came flat out and requested to go in as a Chicago Cub. However, he didn’t have any problem hinting that he’d prefer to go in as a Cub and once the announcement was official, went as far as basically saying that he’s disappointed his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame will not be a home for which he may hang a Cubs cap. It will forever be etched in bronze that he was a Montreal Expo first and foremost…and then, oh yeah, he also played for the Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins.
I of course would love for Andre to go in as a Cub. Why wouldn’t I? However, I’m not that upset about it. It is what it is. He’s a hall of famer, he made it and I’m happy for The Hawk. However, what it is…is…a flawed system. The hall decides which cap a hall of famer will have applied to their plaque as we know. The player’s feeling is taken into account however they believe if those that run the hall crunch the numbers and decide which city will represent the time where the player was his most valuable and dominant, then historically speaking the dignity of the hall and the honor will be preserved. Seeing that it’s an opinion, there will always be those who disagree. Even in this case, Dawson himself isn’t thrilled. Apparently this system got real fire under itself when Wade Boggs wanted to go in as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray.
My question…so what? Why not let him?
Think about what the player has to do to earn this honor. The day in day out hustle and grind of the major leagues for many of them stretches nearly two decades. To keep your performance at a hall of fame level takes an amazing amount of desire, dedication, hard work, commitment, consistency and character. With all that this person must dedicate to earning a place among the greats, haven’t they earned the right to say which cap is on their plaque? And what do we have to lose by doing so? Historically speaking nothing. The numbers are all the same and all the teams are listed on the plaque regardless. If anything, by letting the player decide, we would actually end up gaining something.
Imagine if Wade Boggs had been allowed to go in as a Devil Ray. Imagine, historically speaking, what that would say about Wade Boggs. Imagine the conversations that would generate…the reasons why he would do that. The feelings he must have had towards the Red Sox to choose a Tampa Bay cap. By allowing the player to choose, we actually find out about them as people, beyond the numbers, which if you ask me…would actually be fascinating. Completely hypothetically speaking of course, but you’ll understand where I’m going…which cap would Dennis Eckersley choose, or Yogi Berra, or Reggie Jackson, or Rickey Henderson, or any other member of the hall that played significant time with multiple teams? It would be fascinating to hear their reasons for choosing the caps they chose and it would be a real tell-tale sign of what their careers meant to them along the way beyond the numbers.
Many things are taken into consideration when the BBWAA votes on the candidates each year. Some of those factors have nothing to do with numbers. We know how loudly the numbers speak and they are loud at that, numbers speak very well by themselves. But imagine how much more we’d know about the greats of the game if they were allowed to step up to the plate and make one more move in solidifying their place in the game.
That would be something I think a lot of people would get behind. Except perhaps the Baseball Hall of Fame, that is.
It is what it is. And Andre Dawson’s HOF plaque cap is that of the Montreal Expo. Whether he wears a Cubs cap at any time during his induction speech is completely up to him. And if you ask me…that is exactly the way it should be all-around when you reach that day, that milestone in your professional baseball career.
Go Cubs Go!