By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
Vladimir Guerrero going into Cooperstown with a halo on his plaque?
The discussion goes on but with election time coming up in the next few months, the National Baseball Hall of Fame has given its preliminary blessing to Guerrero having an Angels' logo on his cap instead of an Expos' emblem.
“When a player or manager is elected to the Hall of Fame, the Museum staff provides him with guidance on logo options, including not having a logo on the plaque," Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson told me.
"We always takes the electee’s wishes into consideration and he drives the thought process. Our primary objective is to be sure the selection makes sense from an historical standpoint.”
It would make sense because the gap in the amount of time Guerrero spent with the Expos and Angels' isn't a large one. He spent seven and a quarter seasons with the Expos and six with the Angels.
Guerrero has told friends and reporters that he would prefer to go in as an Angel. If it happens, it would be the first time that franchise has seen a player enter the Hall of Fame with a halo on a plaque. Incredulous as it may sound, that is true. The Angels began operations 56 years ago in 1961.
"We are actually still awaiting the first player with an Angel hat in Cooperstown. Hopefully, that will be Vladimir Guerrero next year,'' said Angels vice-president of communications Tim Mead. "And eventually, we also await the first homegrown Angel into Cooperstown. I wish I could say with 100% certainty which logo Vlad will go into Cooperstown with. Though we are optimistic, I certainly do not want to be in a position of making a statement on Vlad's behalf until we know with absolute certainty.''
In the past, the Hall of Fame has overturned the wishes of two Expos' greats, who wanted to go in with another logo. Gary Carter spent 11 and a quarter seasons with the Expos but preferred a Mets' logo, even though he spent six less seasons in New York than he did in Montreal. The Hall ruled that Carter's identity was with Montreal and told him that he had to go in as an Expo. Same with Dawson. He spent 10 and a quarter seasons with Montreal but wanted to go in as a Cub even though he spent just six seasons in Chicago.
On the contrary, Expos icon Tim Raines didn't ask for a White Sox logo on his plaque in Cooperstown this past July. He wanted to go in as an Expo. He toiled five seasons with the ChiSox but in excess of 10 with the Expos. If he had asked for a Chicago logo, he would have been turned down by the Hall.
So Guerrero's 7-6 record for seasons played in Montreal as opposed to the Angels is tight. For Carter, it was 11-5 for the Expos against the Mets, for Dawson, it was 10-6 against the Cubs and for Raines, it was 10-5 against the White Sox.
"Vlad says that only because the Expos are no longer a team and he never played for the Nationals, he would probably go in as an Angel. But he knows it is ultimately the decision of the Hall of Fame,'' said his marketing agent and spokesman Jesse Guerrero.
Guerrero was voted the American League's Most Valuable Player in 2004 while with the Angels and owns a home in Anaheim. Guerrero was a homegrown Expos' product and put up some mighty fine numbers with Montreal so if he's choosing the Angels, then former Expos' officials, fans and media will have to grudgingly accept his decision.
Barring voter turnaround against him, Guerrero is expected to be elected into Cooperstown in January. He gained 71.7% of votes cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America last January. A player needs at least 75% of the votes to get in. Trevor Hoffman received 74% of the votes and almost assuredly will gain entry into the Hall along with Guerrero.
First-time eligibles next year include Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Jamie Moyer and the Jones clan: Chipper and Andruw.