Blue Jays in Cooperstown

Hall bound Blue Jays

There have been many great players to put on the double blue in the last 30 years but none of them have been inducted into Cooperstown wearing a Jay’s hat. Part of the Cooperstown mystique is a multi-team player choosing the team he would like to be remembered by. There has been some controversy lately Gary Carter as an Expo, Dave Winfield as a Padre and Nolan Ryan as a Ranger.
Don’t get me wrong there are Jays in the Hall of Fame Winfield, Paul Molitor and Phil Neikro to be exact.
There have been Blue Jays at the bottom of many ballots in the last few years, namely Tom Henke, Dave Steib, George Bell and Joe Carter have had a handful of votes between them but none were good enough to consider ever being inducted as a player; Steib maybe as a long shot.


Let’s look at the greatest Blue Jays who spent enough time with the Jays to rationally consider going in as a bluebird. The one that comes to mind immediately is currently active Carlos Delgado. The two Wild Cards that should stir up discussion if not downright arguments are Fred McGriff and Roberto Alomar. Both Alomar and McGriff have solid Hall of Fame credentials. There are lesser players in the Hall now. Also, if elected, both players have a rational choice to make between other teams they played with.
Lets look at the Crime Dog first. His reciprocating “player most like himself” formula puts him in the company of Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell, both HOFers. His 493 career dingers should get him into the Hall. I realize there is a magic number of 500 and 7 more homers would have made him an automatic. His 493 tie him with the immortal Lou Gehrig for 21st all-time. If 493 is not enough; he will have the most homers without being inducted. He was also extremely consistent; he could be counted on for 30 HR and 100 RBI in any season with an average between .275 and .310. So, with those credentials McGriff, not a shoe-in, can probably expect to be giving an induction speech in Cooperstown sometime in the next 20 years.
Now, the question, will he go in as a Blue Jay? A simple answer – probably not. McGriff played 19 seasons in 6 different uniforms. His career highlight should be winning the 1995 World Series with the Braves. His best years were his two and a half-year stint with the Padres from 1991-1993 and the years 1999-2000 which he split between the Devil Rays and the Cubs. McGriff, being from Tampa may want to go in wearing his home team jersey. With all this in mind there is little that would make him decide to don a Blue Jays uniform on his special day in Cooperstown. The only thing I can think of is any sentimental memory of his early days in the bigs or wanting to be the first Blue Jay Hall of Famer.
He may not get a chance to join before Roberto Alomar is inducted. No matter what you think of this player and what he thinks of Toronto, Alomar should go down as one of the best all round second basemen in history and one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time. His 2724 career hits gave him a .300 career average. He had more power than most second basemen hitting 210 career home runs and knocked in 77 runs on average. He was a 12-time All-Star and 4-time Silver Slugger. He also won 10 Gold Gloves, more than any other second basemen including Bill Mazeroski, who Alomar is almost incomparably better than with the stick. Alomar benefited by playing on some amazing teams in Toronto, Cleveland and Baltimore but even in pressure packed situations he responded by making some clutch hits, key defensive plays and batting .313/.381/.448 in 58 playoff games – marginally better than his regular season stats.
Alomar could make an argument to go into the Hall as either an Indian or an Oriole but it was in Toronto that Alomar was catapulted into superstardom. It is also here that Alomar won his only World Championships. While playing only 5 of his 17 seasons in Canada he was a Blue Jay longer than any other team he played for.
Alomar’s name, regardless of his accomplishments, is infamous in Toronto and this may sway his decision in going in as a Jay. Alomar wanted out of Toronto after the teams’ fortunes took a downfall and his celebrity in the city attracted deranged stalkers. He became unpopular after sitting out the final games in 1995 to maintain his .300 average hoping to attract a hefty off-season deal. Alomar, then with the Orioles visiting SkyDome spat in the face of an umpire in the last week of the regular season. With Bud Selig’s Vice Squad in a frenzy they failed to suspend Alomar during the playoffs. After that incident Alomar, caused no further problems and matured into a steady batter and a spectacular glove in the field. His production took a nosedive when he moved to the Mets and the National League in 2002. Alomar retired before the 2005 season when he was cut from the Chicago White Sox. Alomar has yet to be recognized by the Blue Jays in the Level of Excellence – their answer to retiring numbers, which he certainly deserves. Perhaps Ted Rogers, JP Riccardi and Alomar are expecting the Toronto faithful to show up and jeer.
Both Alomar and McGriff are still a few years away from eligibility. There is one former Blue Jay who should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Carlos Delgado had several MVP-like seasons with the Jays and the way he continues to produce he should be able to become only the 5th man to collect 3000 hits and 500 HR. Those credentials make him, like I said a first balloter. He should go in as a Blue Jay. He played from 1993-2004 with the Jays. The only thing that I can see that would make him opt for another cap is to win a World Series title with the Mets. He is also about 10 years away from eligibility.
So, it is a race between Delgado, Alomar and McGriff to get into the Hall. Does McGriff have the numbers to get in? Will Alomar’s reputation keep him out of the HOF for years to come and permanently out of a Blue Jays uniform? Will there still be no Jays in the Hall of Fame when Carlos Delgado gets his day in the Sun? Maybe one of these men will enter Cooperstown as a Blue Jay, but maybe the current crop of Blue Jays will produce the franchise’s first Hall of Famer.

Written By

  • The choice of which team’s logo appears on a player’s plaque is not up to the player, but the Hall of Fame. The logo selection is based on where that player makes his most indelible mark, not things such as having grown up near a team you played with for 3.5 of 19 seasons.

  • I thought that while the HOF gets the final say, the player’s still get input on what they’d like.

  • Kman

    I don’t know if McGriff will go in, but I can’t see Alomar go in as a Blue Jay, after all that went down.

  • Early

    Player gets to choose but HOF has to approve. McGriff could probably go in for any team he played with. Alomar’s greatness as a Jay is still ignored. He was a great player and sooner or later he will get some recognition, regardless of what sort of personality disater he was.

  • No, player does not get to choose. Player can lobby but the Hall of Fame makes the decision.

  • C. Joseph

    The Hall took a lot of the cap-choice power away a few years ago to prevent guys from auctioning off the rights to their plaque cap to the highest bidder. Probably a wise decision.

    Anyway. I’d say Delgado has an outside chance at the Hall at best. Alomar is clearly the best of these players; my guess is that he’ll be wearing an Indians cap, though it might be a Blue Jays one if the Hall decides to weight his rings more heavily.

  • I think the hall may want to distance Alomar fromt the “situation”, so I’m assuming– and hoping– that Alomar goes in as an Indian.

  • Early

    Why would you hope that Alomar goes in as an Indian? Because you like the Indians?

  • Early

    From http://www.baseballhalloffame.org

    The choice of which team’s logo appears on a player’s plaque is the Museum’s decision, though we always consider the wishes of an inductee. As a history museum and as such, it’s important that the logo be emblematic of the historical accomplishments of that player’s career. A player’s election to the Hall of Fame is a career achievement, and as such, every team for whom he played is listed on the plaque; however, the logo selection is based on where that player makes his most indelible mark. Visit our Hall of Fame plaque section to see the plaques of your favorite Hall of Fame members.

  • Earl, read my first comment.