Early bird tickets for Baltimore’s BEST party on sale now!

Examining some recent Hall of Fame hat decisions as Mike Mussina chooses between Orioles, Yankees

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Freshly elected Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Mussina starred for both the Orioles and New York Yankees in his career, with each team staking a claim for the cap he's enshrined wearing on his plaque.

Mussina steered clear of making any declarations Tuesday night, going as far as saying he can't make a decision. He then almost dodged answering another question about his hat at Wednesday’s Hall of Fame news conference in New York, but said he hadn't decided yet.

"The situation is unique," he said. "I almost split my career down the middle with two organizations. I told you yesterday, right now I couldn't sit here and choose one over the other. They're both instrumental to me sitting here. So, I think we've got a little bit of time here to talk it over with the Hall of Fame and with the people there, and I think all of us put together will come to the right decision, whatever it is. But as I sit here right now, no, I have not decided."

There's also the option of going in as neutral, one taken by newly elected pitcher Roy Halladay’s widow Wednesday. The previous player to do that was fellow 1990s star pitcher Greg Maddux, who split his Hall of Fame career between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves.

Maddux's decision in 2014 was one made in conjunction with the Hall of Fame, which takes input from inductees but ultimately makes the decision. The Chicago Tribune reported that at the time, 128 of the 300 inductees in the Hall of Fame went in without a cap. Catfish Hunter was the last before Maddux, and he was inducted in 1987.

Here's a rundown of some of the recent split cases and how they were decided.

Vladimir Guerrero, 2018

All Guerrero did was hit, wherever he played. For the first eight years of his career, he hit .323 with 234 home runs and a .978 OPS before winning American League MVP in 2004 in his first season with the Los Angeles Angels. He hit .319 with a .927 OPS and 173 home runs in six seasons there, and represented the Angels in Cooperstown — the first player to ever do that.

Mike Piazza, 2016

Piazza was a star from the time he debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning National League Rookie of the Year in 1993 and making the first of his five All-Star appearances in their colors that year. He left on bad terms in 1998 and ended up with the New York Mets, with whom he made six more All-Star teams after arriving via trade from the then-Florida Marlins. He hit .331 with 177 home runs and a .966 OPS in Los Angeles against a .296 average with 220 home runs and a .915 OPS in New York, but was inducted as a Met.

Randy Johnson, 2015

Though he began his career with the Montreal Expos, Johnson's star rose with the Seattle Mariners, with whom he won his first Cy Young Award in 1995 and made five All-Star appearances. He signed as a free agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks ahead of the 1999 season, and won the Cy Young four straight times from 1999 to 2002 while winning the World Series there in 2001. That ended up trumping his time in Seattle, as he went in as a Diamondback.

Greg Maddux, 2014

Maddux had a 133-112 record with a 3.61 ERA over two stints with the Cubs from 1986 to 1992 and 2004 to 2006, winning the first of his four consecutive NL Cy Young Awards before signing with the Braves and winning three more while going 194-88 with a 2.63 ERA in 11 seasons. The numbers were better with Atlanta, as were the accolades, but not good enough to have him choose them over the team that gave him his start.

Tony La Russa, 2014

The Hall of Fame manager went in via the Expansion Era Committee after three long managerial stints. He went 522-510 with the Chicago White Sox from 1979 to 1986, then won a World Series and three AL championships over 10 years with the Oakland Athletics, posting a 798-673 record. His longest stint included two World Series titles in three appearances over 16 years with the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he went 1,408-1,182 from 1996 to 2011.

Andre Dawson, 2010

Dawson was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1977 for the Expos, and was a three-time All-Star, a six-time Gold Glove winner and a three-time Silver Slugger before he left for the Cubs in 1987. He won NL MVP that year and made five straight All-Star appearances in their colors, but ended up representing the Expos in Cooperstown.

Ricky Henderson, 2009

Henderson played for nine teams over his 25-year career, but ended up donning the hat of the Athletics, with whom he played 14 seasons — including the first six of his career. He then spent five-plus years with the New York Yankees, who traded him back to Oakland in 1989. He won the AL MVP award in 1990 for the Athletics, and was mostly transient once he left there.

Dennis Eckersley, 2004

Eckersley worked as a starter earlier in his career, including seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox from 1978 to 1984, but became a star as a closer in Oakland, where he had 320 saves with a 2.74 ERA and won the Cy Young and MVP awards in 1992. All those accolades led to him wearing an Athletics cap in Cooperstown.

Gary Carter, 2003

The Mets had some claim to Carter considering he made four All-Star teams while hitting .249 with a .731 OPS and 89 home runs in five seasons in New York from 1985 to 1989. But he started (and ended) his career with the Expos, with whom he played 12 seasons and hit .269 with 220 home runs and a .796 OPS while making seven All-Star teams, including six straight before he left for New York.

Dave Winfield, 2001

Winfield began his career with the San Diego Padres in 1973, batting .284 with 154 home runs and an .821 OPS. He made four straight All-Star teams to end his Padres tenure in 1980 before signing with the Yankees. In the Bronx, he made eight straight All-Star teams while batting .290 with an .851 OPS and 205 home runs. But he ended up donning a Padres hat.

Catfish Hunter, 1987

The last blank cap for a player before Maddux was Hunter, who spent the first 10 years of his career in the Athletics organization — first in Kansas City and then Oakland — and made six All-Star appearances to go with his 1974 Cy Young Award there while posting a 3.13 ERA. The last five years of his career with the Yankees brought him two more All-Star nods with a 3.58 ERA, plus the last two of his five World Series rings. He went in with a blank hat.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

twitter.com/JonMeoli

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
52°