February 17, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Those hoping this would be the year that another National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee would be featured in a Toronto Blue Jays cap on their plaque will have to wait.
Fred McGriff, who played his first five major league seasons with the Blue Jays, will be pictured in a blank cap on his plaque.
“Fifteen of my 19 major league seasons were split, playing half a decade with the Blue Jays, Braves and Devil Rays,” McGriff said in a release issued by the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday. “At each stop, I was lucky to be a part of memorable teams and to play in front of some of the best fans in baseball. In discussing my career with the Hall of Fame, we decided that with no logo on my plaque, I can equally represent these cities and the incredible fans in Toronto, where I got my start, Atlanta, where we won the World Series, and my hometown of Tampa Bay, as well as my time in San Diego. I can’t wait to see my plaque when it’s unveiled this July in Cooperstown.”
The Hall’s 2023 induction class consists of McGriff and Scott Rolen, both of whom are ex-Jays. Of the two, McGriff seemed like the best bet to be pictured in a Jays’ cap. The power-hitting first baseman belted 125 of his 493 big league home runs as a Jay and posted an 19.4 WAR with the club. That’s by far the highest WAR he registered with any of the six clubs he played with during his career (His 11.1 WAR in five seasons with the Braves was second). McGriff posted his highest on-base percentage (.389), slugging percentage (.530) and on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) (.919) with the Blue Jays.
But given his itinerant career, it’s not surprising that he’ll be pictured in a blank cap. If I was a betting man, I would’ve put my money on McGriff being highlighted in a Braves cap. That’s the team he won his only World Series with in 1995.
McGriff was elected by the Contemporary Baseball Players Era Committee on December 4.
Unsurprisingly, Rolen, who only played parts of two seasons with the Blue Jays in 2008 and 2009, will also not be featured in a Blue Jays cap. It is somewhat surprising, however, that he’ll be highlighted in a St. Louis Cardinals cap rather than a Philadelphia Phillies cap. He started his career with the Phillies and his seven-season tenure with them was his longest with any team.
“After reflecting on my 17-year career, and conferring with the Hall of Fame, I have decided on a Cardinals logo for my Hall of Fame plaque,” said Rolen in a Hall of Fame release. “I believe this decision accurately represents a pivotal portion of my career based on our teams’ successes in St. Louis. I am grateful to Philadelphia, St. Louis, Toronto and Cincinnati for the opportunities given to me as a player, but more importantly, for how they embraced me and my family. I am truly honored that my plaque will hang among the legends in Cooperstown.”
Rolen, who was elected to the Hall by the baseball writers on January 24, batted .282 with 150 home runs and an .877 OPS and 29.4 WAR in seven seasons with the Phillies. He was dealt to the Cardinals on July 29, 2002 and proceeded to hit .286 with 111 home runs, while recording an .879 OPS and 25.9 WAR in six campaigns with the Cards. He won his only World Series with the Cardinals in 2006.
In 203 games over parts of two seasons with the Blue Jays, Rolen batted .288 with 19 home runs and a .810 OPS. He finished his career with parts of four years with the Reds.
Rolen and McGriff will be inducted into the Cooperstown shrine on July 23. Their plaques will be unveiled prior to their speeches.
According to the Hall of Fame, a player’s plaque “serves to reflect the totality of a career, details an individual’s accomplishments in the game in approximately 90 words, while listing each team on which an individual played or managed.” There is an artist rendering of the inductee at the top of the plaque that features former players in a cap.
Roberto Alomar is the only player to be inducted to be pictured in a Blue Jays cap on their plaque.
Thanks for the info.
Thanks for reading this and for your support.
Thanks for the info. I thought that Rolen would be a Philly.
Hi Bob. I kind of thought the same. I don’t imagine the Phillies fans are taking it well. 🙂 Thanks again for reading and your support.
Not surprised by McGriff as he had similar great years with Toronto, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Rolen was a hard choice I’m sure and either way he was going to upset one of the teams.
I thought McGriff would be featured in an Atlanta cap, but strictly by stats, he had his best years in Toronto. But I can understand it being blank. I don’t imagine Phillies fans are very happy with Rolen’s choice. Thanks for your comment, Scott.