The following is a guest post. The views expressed in the article are those of the author.
As most of you already know, earlier this month Bert Blyleven was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Roberto "I spit in your general direction" Alomar. For those of you younger Twins fans that are unaware of his accomplishments, Blyleven was an all-time great picture who spent 11 of his 22 years in the big leagues with the Twins. He finished with 287 wins, 3701 career strikeouts, and a career 3.31 ERA. He also had 242 completed games for his career. Clearly, Blyleven will go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Twins cap since it is obvious that he made his biggest contribution with the Twins. However, this brings me to the matter of whether the Hall of Fame should decide which cap a player should wear into Cooperstown.
The current policy of the Hall of Fame is to put the team cap on the player statue from the team that they are identified to have made their "most indelible mark" on the game. In the past, the hall has deferred to the player in choosing the cap, but that changed in 2001 after there were reports that some players were taking bribes to wear a particular cap.
Some of you may think that this policy would not have that big of an impact on players going into the hall. However, let's take a look at a few key examples. For those of you that remember Andre Dawson, what team do you identify him with? The Cubs right? Well, Andre must go into the hall wearing an Expos hat due to having spent most of his career there. When you think of Wade Boggs, you usually think of him as either a Red Sox player, or a Yankee. Boggs had requested to be enshrined as a Yankee since that is where he had his success. However, the hall decided to put him as a Red Sox. Gary Carter fans would expect no less than for him to be enshrined as a N.Y. Met. However, he went in as an Montreal Expo. (That would be the Washington Nationals for you younger fans.)
Luckily, we won't have that problem with Blyleven due to the two stints he had with the Twins, but imagine if he had been with another team for a reasonable amount of time and the Hall of Fame denied his request to be a Twin. I personally think that it is shameful that the hall does not defer to the players in this matter. If there is proof that the player is being bribed, that is one thing. However, in most cases the players are requesting to be enshrined with the team that they either had their best years with or the team that they consider "their team."
I have a lot of respect for the job that the Hall of Fame does. Unlike some sports, our Hall of Fame truly enshrines the great players throughout history, and not players that online poker sites rated as great. Deferring to the players to make a decision on their hat is a small concession that I feel that they should make, especially if you consider the fans. Andre Dawson will always be a Cub, Gary Carter a Met, and Bert Blyleven a Twin. In the end, the impact that a player makes with the fans is just as important as the impact made on the field, and that should in some part can be recognized by letting the players choose what hat they wear into Cooperstown.
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