Jim Thome played 13 seasons for the Cleveland Indians, so there’s no doubt which team’s cap his Hall of Fame plaque will have him wearing. There was a question though as to which Cleveland Indians hat the plaque would portray.
Throughout Thome’s career, the Indians wore a hat featuring Chief Wahoo. For years, the team and their fans have been ridiculed about that logo, depicting a cartoon-like smiling Indian. As pressure continued, the Indians gave in to the pressure and announced that while they weren’t officially getting rid of the logo, they would no longer feature it on their caps and jersey sleeves following the 2018 season. The team had used the logo in one form or another since 1947.
So with the hat being officially deemed politically incorrect and the Indians acquiescing, should Thome wear the Chief Wahoo hat on his Hall of Fame plaque? Actually, it’s not his decision. The Hall of Fame changed their rules years ago to eliminate the players having the final say over which team is portrayed on the cap out of fear that players could basically auction off the decision to teams that they played for during their career, or that teams could put language in a player’s contract stipulating that if they enter the Hall of Fame, they must choose that team’s cap for their plaque.
If Thome has his way though, he’s made his decision:
“I know my decision would be to wear the ‘C’, because I think it’s the right thing to do. I think I need to have a conversation with the Hall of Fame because of all the history and everything involved, I just think that’s the right thing to do,” Thome told a reporter recently.
Thome was referring to the red, block-letter capital C that the Indians have used as an alternate logo. During his initial stint with the team from 1991-2002, the Indians didn’t wear that logo on their cap. When Thome returned to the Indians in 2011, they did wear the block ‘C’ hat as part of their road blue cap and their alternate home red cap that season.
On the statue of Thome erected at Progressive Field in 2014, Thome is enshrined wearing a Chief Wahoo batting helmet.
The more interesting situation would be if he had preferred to enter wearing the Chief Wahoo hat that he wore throughout his career. It would have been interesting to see what the Hall of Fame would have set as a policy regarding that hat now that it’s officially going to be put into storage.
Thome has also reportedly narrowed the list of candidates to present him for induction during the Hall of Fame ceremony this summer. The former Phillie has kept the list a highly guarded secret, but you have to believe that former Indians and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is on the short list, probably somewhere at or near the top. The Hall of Fame must also approve the choice of who will introduce the player.