By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) Greg Maddux certainly was an Atlanta Brave. And he definitely was a Chicago Cub.
He also was a Los Angeles Dodger and a San Diego Padre, albeit briefly.
But when he’s inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, Maddux won’t be any of them – and yet, at the same time, he’ll be all of them.
And, really, that just makes a whole lot of sense.
On Thursday, the Hall announced that Maddux has decided his plaque will have no logo, a decision that the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan described as “a small, but telling victory for the Cubs, who let the four-time Cy Young Award Winner leave as a free agent in his prime.”
Earlier this month, I argued in a column that I’ve long believed that deep down Maddux has always felt he was more of a Cub than a Brave, and I suspected that if given his preference he very well might choose to represent Chicago in Cooperstown.
In many ways, however, the news on Thursday was even better than that because Maddux now can represent all of his fans. And while the Hall of Fame may catch a lot of heat for its procedures and decisions, it’s also clear that with the Maddux decision – as well as the choice to have fellow inductee and former Cardinals, A’s and White Sox manager Tony La Russa also go logo-less – the HOF has learned at least one important thing since 2010 when Andre Dawson was inducted as a Montreal Expo against his wishes.
It’s now choosing logic over logos.
And I hope that’s something that continues in the future.
On Thursday, Maddux explained in a statement that, “My wife, Kathy, and I grew up in baseball in Chicago, and then we just had an amazing experience in Atlanta with the Braves. It’s impossible for me to choose one of those teams.”
He later spoke to reporters at a Rangers minicamp, where he’s working a special assistant to general manager Jon Daniels, and added: “Love both places. Obviously, I feel like I had more success as a Brave. We did get a World Series there. But I came up a Cub. For me, I couldn’t pick. I really couldn’t. Both places mean too much to me personally and my family. I’m going to go in as neutral, I guess.”
When it comes to deciding what logos are represented on inductees’ plaques, the Hall of Fame has made the final call since 2001 after changing its rules in response to rumors that Wade Boggs had a clause in his final contract with Tampa Bay saying he would request that the Rays logo be emblazoned on his cap.
Since then, the Hall has said that it weighs players’ preferences about what team’s cap to put on their plaque, but Dawson’s preference didn’t seem to carry much weight four years ago.
After his cap decision was made, Dawson told the media that he wasn’t thrilled with the Hall’s selection, saying: “I know the difference in the 10 to six years probably was something of a consideration on their part. But I tried to explain, perhaps, the impact of what really catapulted me to Hall of Fame status, and pretty much what my preference was.
“The Hall clearly stated their major concern is the history of the game and that’s what really played into their decision. I’m disappointed. I can probably say that, because Chicago was my preference.”
I attended Dawson’s Hall of Fame induction in 2010, and while I was happy for the Montreal fans in attendance in Cooperstown, the experience was also bittersweet for the many Cubs fans – and, unfortunately, even for Dawson himself. In hindsight, it probably would have been best had Dawson gone in with a logo-less plaque, as well.
And, really, perhaps all players should. Or, even better, as a friend suggested this morning, the Hall of Fame could simply place the logos of all of the teams that the inductee played for on the perimeter of his plaque, giving each of them their due.
On Thursday, Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson explained that a logo makes sense for those “whose most compelling contributions clearly took place with one team” and not having a team logo is “equally acceptable” for those whose careers were built significantly among multiple teams.”
He added that, “Regardless of the selection, a Hall of Famer belongs to every team for which he played or managed, as well as every fan who followed his career.”
And perhaps they should all be represented that way, especially in this age when players rarely spend their entire career with one franchise. Unfortunately, it’s too late for Andre Dawson’s induction, but it’s still nice to see that the Hall has seemingly wised up with Maddux and La Russa.
Let’s hope that wisdom lasts.