This year, by earning 90% of the vote, Alomar will join Pat Gillick, his General Manager from the Blue Jays’ glory years, which included back-to-back World Series wins in 1992 and 1993. Let’s hope that Tom Cheek wins the Ford Frick Award and is the next Jay to get the call.
It’s terrific that these two men will be added to the hall’s pantheon of great people associated with the game. But the Hall also needs more and better ‘artifacts’ related to the Blue Jays, their greatest players and their greatest moments.
The Hall of Fame mostly relies on donations from players and fans for its extensive inventory of icons related to the great game and its greatest moments. Cooperstown is a treasure trove of baseball memorabilia and iconic artifacts. Visitors can see the autographed bat and ball from Babe Ruth’s 60th home run in his 1927 season. His called shot’ bat is also on display. The ball and bat from Ted Williams’s 500th homerun is enshrined in the Hall. Joe Jackson’s glove, from when he played for the Chicago White Sox and patrolled left field is also something to see—it’s simple and tiny by today’s standards. There’s even a Honus Wagner baseball card.
The Hall of Fame display for the Jays’ back-to-back wins in 1992 and 1993 contains several items related to the team. Behind the glass is a pair of shoes worn by Paul Molitor. There are game jerseys from John Olerud and Joe Carter. There is a Joe Carter bat, and a Roberto Alomar jersey. I suppose it’s a respectable collection, but not exactly one that features truly iconic items from those magical post-seasons.
What would I like to see? How about a line-up card listing the legendary WAMCO batting order that so terrorized pitching? How about a bag from that final ’93 game to link Carter’s game winning home-run to Tom Cheek’s now famous call of “Touch ’em all, Joe! You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!” Or, how about “the” Joe Carter bat from that same play? Or the helmet he lost because of all his jumping around as he round the bases? Or, how about Roberto Alomar’s ball and/or bat used to hit that 9th inning home run off of Dennis Eckersley in game 4 of the ’92 AL championship series? Alomar’s high line-drive dramatically shifted the momentum of the series and finally knocked Oakland down to size. A Roberto Alomar glove, perhaps? Or, how about the bag and some bloodied dirt from Todd Stottlemyre’s exhuberant face first slide into the third base in game 4 in the 1993 World Series? Okay, maybe that’s going too far, but you get my drift.
The Hall also features ‘lockers’ for all of the major league teams in a large room set up to look like a locker-room. Team ‘stuff’ is located behind plexiglass in mock lockers. The Jays locker is the sparsest of all 30 teams. When I last visited the Hall, the locker featured a Tony Fernandez bat, used in 1999 when he had his .328 batting average. There was a Carlos Delgado jersey worn in 2004– of course the sign even helpfully notes it was his last year with the Jays. Also in the display was a Frank Thomas jersey celebrating his 500th career home run on June 28, 2007 when was with the Jays for a little more than a season before his acrimonious departure. Rounding out the display was Charlie O’Brien’s hockey style catcher’s helmet. Add in a couple of stock photos of Vernon Wells and Roy Halladay and that’s the whole locker. Unfortunately, the Jays locker is also tucked into a corner at the farthest corner of the room and this only adds to the overall impression.
I find myself thinking about the slim collection in that Cooperstown locker almost every day I walk into my garage at home. My son Chad and I are die-hard Jays fans and we have a 3 ft. by 5 ft. display case featuring our own collection of Jays memorabilia. Sure, a lot of the stuff is game day give-aways, but all of it connects us to memories of days at the park. We have bobble-heads of Roy Halladay, Lyle Overbay, Cito Gaston, Eric Hinskie and John Macdonald. We have assorted mugs, pins, and pennants in celebration of World Series wins. There is even a creepy looking Carlos Delgado rubber duck. There’s a Blue Jay Troll. There are also some tiny logo’d tiny running shoes, Jays hats and shirts, all worn by Chad when he was a young boy.
But we also have what I think is some pretty cool stuff. There’s a Joe Carter ball, signed by Joe and given to then 4 year old Chad. We have a Roy Halladay autographed All-Star ball from 2003, his first Cy Young season. We also have a Halladay autographed rookie card. We have gameday tickets and a souvenir shirt given to fans who attended the October 2, 1991 game when the Jays became the first team to exceed 4 million fans in one season. José Bautista gave Chad a signed ball when he was sitting on home run #40 on his way to a Jays season record of 54. There are other balls signed by Jays players including John Macdonald, Lyle Overbay, Jason Frasor and Jesse Carlson. There’s even a Vernon Wells home run ball that Chad caught above the Jays’ bullpen in 2008.
The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown relies on players, teams and fans to provide significant items related to the game. Judging from what’s on display there now, The Blue Jays are very poorly represented when compared to other teams. This is a big year for the Jays with Alomar being elected along with Pat Gillick. And let’s hope that Tom Cheek is finally recognized as the great broadcaster he was, with a Ford Frick award this next year.
So, what would you want to see in either the Jays World Series display or their ‘locker’ at Cooperstown? What are the iconic items that should be there to celebrate great moments or players in Jays history? Do you have an item that should be in the hall? Do you know some former Jays players who might be persuaded to donate some iconic bling to the Hall? If you do have something that deserves to be in the Hall, click here for information and guidelines: Hall of Fame
As for me, I’ll be keeping the Delgado rubber duck and the Blue Jay Troll doll as part of our permanent collection. These items will be rare…. someday.
John Ecker | Pantheon