Meeting Phil Niekro at a 2002 Hall of Fame Event – Sully Baseball Photo at Noon for June 2, 2018


The great knuckleball artist Phil Niekro was at the Hall of Fame event I attended in 2002. I swear to God he could make at least three different major league staffs today.

Great Milestones in Strange Uniforms



I got an idea for a blog post from one of my readers.

It is an interesting concept. Often when we think of great milestones reached by a player, they are wearing a uniform of a team that we associate them with.

Players like Carl Yastrzemski, Derek Jeter, George Brett, Robin Yount and Tony Gwynn played their entire careers with one team. So when they passed 3,000 hits, they did so in a uniform we were expecting. Rickey Henderson had several tours with the A’s, and it was in his second one that he passed Lou Brock for career saves and declared himself the greatest of all time in Oakland.

Other players returned to former teams to pass milestones. Eddie Murray was back with the Orioles when he slammed home run number 500. Greg Maddux returned to the Cubs for win number 300.

But other players reached their great career highlight in a uniform that virtually nobody remembers them wearing.

For example…

Boston Herald

,  Boston Herald

Hall of Famer Paul Waner (aka Big Poison) got 2,868 hits over his 15 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. But when he became the 7th player to collect 3,000 hits on June 19, 1942, he did so as a Boston Brave.

Eddie Mathews played with the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. But when he became just the 7th player to hit 500 homers on July 14, 1967, he did so as a member of the Houston Astros.

Photo credit:   John Iacono - SI

Photo credit: John Iacono – SI

Gaylord Perry spent the bulk of his career with the Giants, winning the Cy Young Award with the Indians and Padres. But he won his 300th game on May 6, 1982 with the Seattle Mariners.

1984 Fleer

1984 Fleer

The player Pete Rose was best remembered as a Red and later led the Phillies to their first World Championship. But when he became the first player with 4,000 hits since Ty Cobb on April 13, 1984, Pete was playing for the Montreal Expos.



Tom Seaver was “The Franchise” for the Mets and famously was dealt to the Reds. But his win #300 happened on August 4, 1985 as a member of the Chicago White Sox.

AJN Rules

AJN Rules

Also in 1985, Phil Niekro, who began his career with the Milwaukee Braves and played in Atlanta over three decades, won his 300th on October 6th during his cameo with the Yankees.



Don Sutton was best known as a Dodger, but his 300th win was recorded on June 18, 1986 while he pitched for the California Angels.

SF Chronicle

SF Chronicle

The first 21 years of Steve Carlton’s career was split between the Cardinals and the Phillies. He played for four more teams in his final three seasons. He recorded career strikeout number 4,000 during his “blink and you will miss it” stint with the San Francisco Giants on August 5, 1986.

Photo By Bruce Bisping

Photo By Bruce Bisping

Dave Winfield is best remembered for being a star Padre and Yankee and leading the Blue Jays to the World Championship. But the native Minnesotan returned home and on September 16, 1993, got his 3,000 hit as a Twin.

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File

Paul Molitor was one of the great players in Milwaukee Brewer history. Like Winfield, Molitor helped lead the Blue Jays to a World Series title. Also like Winfield, he was a native Minnesotan who returned home to the Twins where he recorded his 3,000 hit. Molitor hit a triple on September 16, 1996, making him the only person to triple for his 3,000th.

Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay Times

Wade Boggs was one of the best hitters in Red Sox history (which is saying something.) He would later help the Yankees win the 1996 World Series and ride a horse in the process. But when he collected his 3,000th hit, he wasn’t wearing one of those classic uniforms. He was a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He slugged a home run on August 7, 1999, being the first to ever homer for number 3,000. (Derek Jeter would be the second.)

Photo: Stephen Gunn - Getty Images

Photo: Stephen Gunn – Getty Images

Rickey Henderson broke the single season and career stolen base record as a member of the Oakland A’s, the team most teams associate with him. But hit number 3,000 happened on October 7, 2001 when he was a member of the San Diego Padres.

Eric Miller - Reuters

Eric Miller – Reuters

Frank Thomas was the greatest slugger in Chicago White Sox history. But when Thomas crushed his 500th home run on June 28, 2007, he did so as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.



Tom Glavine pitched 17 seasons with the Atlanta Braves but notched his 300th victory on August 5, 2007 as a member of the New York Mets.

Greg Fiume/Getty

Greg Fiume/Getty

The most recent 300 game winner was Randy Johnson, who reached the milestone on June 4, 2009 pitching for the San Francisco Giants.

Simmons - NY Daily News

Simmons – NY Daily News

Gary Sheffield never stayed on one team for very long. So perhaps it is appropriate that his greatest achievement, home run number 500, took place during his brief stint with the New York Mets on April 17, 2009.

Greg Fiume/Getty

Greg Fiume/Getty

Wherever Jim Thome played, he was a beloved fan favorite. He joined the 600 home run club on August 15, 2011 not as a member of the Indians but with the Minnesota Twins.

I always wondered what those fan bases thought about those moments. They barely got to know these players but managed to witness one of their great career defining moments.

With A-Rod and Ichiro closest to 3,000 hits, I wonder where their celebrations will be. If CC Sabathia wins 95 more decisions, he will be a 300 game winner. Which uniform will he be wearing then?

Let’s appreciate those events, even if the uniform is a bit jarring.

Hall of Fame Plaque Will Have The Player’s LAST Cap – A Sully Baseball solution

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

There is Hall of Fame cap controversy and the staff here at Sully Baseball has a solution.

Greg Maddux and Tony LaRussa have chosen to have their Hall of Fame plaques have no logo on their caps. LaRussa wanted to respect the A’s and the Cardinals, both organizations that he led to the World Series title. Maddux took pity on Cub fans. (He should have a Braves cap on.)

In the past there were other controversies and debates. Did Dave Winfield get paid to have a Padres cap on his plaque? Wade Boggs wanted a Devil Rays cap on his instead of the Red Sox but it wasn’t allowed. Same with Gary Carter who wanted to go in as a Met and Andre Dawson wanted a Cubs hat. The Hall of Fame put them in with Expos hats.

There is a simple solution to all of this that would eliminate all controversy and maybe create some new cool memories for the future:

Whichever team is the last one you play for in the major leagues is the one on your plaque.

Simple. No more handwringing. You retire with a team or you play your last game somewhere and are elected to the Hall of Fame, then BOOM. You are immortalized with that hat.

Kind of like musical chairs but with caps and museums.

Now that might lead to a few strange plaques, I admit.


Greg Maddux would be immortalized with a Los Angeles Dodgers cap.

Marc Serota/Getty Images

Marc Serota/Getty Images

Frank Thomas? He’d be a Blue Jay.

And going back in history, there would be odd ones.


Babe Ruth? Forget the Curse over the Red Sox or the house he built for the Yankees. His plaque would have him with a Boston Braves cap.


Juan Marichal was a beloved Giant who attacked the Dodgers with a bat once. But look at what cap would be on his plaque. AWKWARD!

64 Snider f

Well if the Dodgers can claim Marichal for the Hall, then it only seems right that a classic Dodger like Duke Snider goes in as a Giant.


Ty Cobb would be a Philadelphia Athletic.


Yogi Berra would be a MET!


Dave Winfield would be a Cleveland Indian.


Tom Seaver… the Franchise… Boston Red Sox legend.


We all remember Minnesota Twin great Steve Carlton, right?

rickey dodgers

The Dodgers got Rickey Henderson along with Greg Maddux and Juan Marichal? That’s just not fair!

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals

But wait a minute, Tom Glavine would go in as an Atlanta Brave. Remember he returned to the Braves after a sojourn with the Mets?

That could be a new baseball tradition. Getting a Hall of Fame caliber player to return for one game. The Cap Clincher! There is a precedent for that.

Phil Niekro pitched for the Braves for 20 seasons, beginning in Milwaukee in 1964 until the end of the 1983 season in Atlanta.

After some good years with the Yankees and Braves, he wore down and his career was over after a failed comeback with the Blue Jays.

But the Braves signed him for one game at the end of the 1987 season. He did not fare too well in that game against the Giants on September 27th. When he was relieved in the fourth inning, he got a standing ovation. Knucksie was leaving the game as a Brave. His fans saluted him one last time.

His plaque rightfully has the Braves logo on it.


Imagine more games like that. Instead of a ceremonial “signing in spring training to retire with a team” the way that Nomar did with the Red Sox or Hideki Matsui did with the Yankees, you do it for real.

Ken Griffey Jr. returned to the Mariners instead of going out as a White Sox hitter. His plaque will and should have the “S” on it.

Let’s see more of that! More legends coming back and having the crowd go nuts, knowing that their favorite player will go out with THEIR cap. It can be a pinch hitting appearance or a 1/3 of an inning as a mop up man.

But it would be a new point of pride for a fanbase, an organization and a player.

And it would end any more hat silliness. You go out with a team and that hat is on the plaque.

Makes perfect sense to me.