Mike Mussina spent his first 10 seasons with the Orioles and his last eight with the Yankees. He excelled with both teams, which is why he was elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
But which team’s cap will adorn Mussina’s plaque when he is inducted into the Hall in Cooperstown on July 21?
The most likely answer: neither.
“The situation is unique,” the newly minted baseball immortal said Wednesday in a news conference at the St. Regis Hotel in midtown Manhattan. “I almost split my career down the middle with two organizations. I told you (Tuesday), right now I couldn’t sit here and choose one over the other. They’re both instrumental to me sitting here. So I think we’ve got a little bit of time here to talk it over with the Hall of Fame and with the people there, and I think all of us put together will come to the right decision, whatever it is. But as I sit here right now, no, I have not decided.”
The popular notion that a player will “choose” which team’s logo to put on his Hall of Fame plaque is incorrect. The Hall has the final say, but the player does have input.
Mussina, who received 76.7 percent of the vote in his sixth year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, had a record of 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA. With the Orioles, the righthander went 147-81, 3.53. After signing with the Yankees as a free agent prior to the 2001 season, Mussina went 123-72, 3.88.
Rather than pick one team’s logo and ignore the other, Mussina can go into the Hall with no logo on his cap. The most recent player to have that as his cap solution was Greg Maddux in 2014.
The late Roy Halladay, who was elected as part of the Class of 2019 along with Mussina, Mariano Rivera and Edgar Martinez, will not have a logo on his cap, according to his widow, Brandy. Halladay, who died in a plane crash in 2017, starred for Toronto and Philadelphia in a 16-year career.
There will be no decisions to be made for Rivera and Martinez, who each played for one organization during their careers. Rivera will become the 23rd Hall of Famer to enter with a Yankees cap on his logo. Martinez will be the second to sport a Mariners logo, joining Ken Griffey Jr.
Mussina had plenty of postseason experience with both of his teams, starting six games with the Orioles and pitching in 17 more with the Yankees, including a memorable relief appearance in the Yankees’ extra-inning victory over the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.
In 2008, Mussina won 20 games for the only time. He had resolved before the season to retire and didn’t change his mind even after notching his 20th victory on the final day of the regular season.
Mussina said his two best baseball memories were the three scoreless relief innings in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and his 20th win in 2008, both of which occurred in a Yankees uniform. But he has a special fondness for his first organization as well.
“The place you start, the team that drafts you, brings you to the major leagues, gives you an opportunity,” Mussina said of the Orioles. “They put me out there to pitch and said, ‘You’re going to do this until you prove you can’t.’ “
Mussina proved he could, and on July 21 he’ll have the plaque to prove it.
Birds or Bombers?
Mike Mussina's tale of two cities:
BALTIMORE NEW YORK
Seasons 10 8
Games 288 249
Innings 2,009 2/3 1,553
W-L 147-81 (2-1 postseason) 123-72 (5-7)
Pct. .645 .631
ERA 3.53 3.88
WHIP 1.175 1.212
ALL-STAR GAMES 5 0