With the LA Angels visiting the Chicago Cubs for a weekend series, Cubs manager Joe Maddon made a bold statement regarding Angels outfielder Mike Trout on Friday. Maddon said he believed MLB should change its logo to Trout’s likeness and that he could “be the league’s Jerry West.”
Despite Trout’s current status as the best player in the game, as demonstrated by everyday play and paycheck, he’s not the best player to EVER play the game. Not to romanticize the past, but there are plenty of players who have had more of an effect on the game than Trout has to this point. That being said, let’s look at a few former players who would be more viable options for a new logo.
Ken Griffey Jr.
This is an easy one. Ken Griffey Jr. was the guy who played baseball the way we all wanted to play it, made his mark on the game, and did it all as one of the few clean players during baseball’s “Steroid Era.”
Not only was Junior a beacon to every kid who loved baseball, but he also had more of an impact on the game than you might realize. You know how everybody in MLB wears No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day? That started with a conversation Griffey had with then-commissioner Bud Selig and Robinson’s widow Rachel Robinson. He said he wanted to honor Robinson by wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day.
The idea was approved and Selig, who then encouraged other clubs to let players do the same. Now, everybody wears No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. The only problem we might have with using The Kid as the new logo is which pose to use as the silhouette. The iconic follow through to his swing can’t be used because that’s already used for his Swingman brand with Nike. His picturesque and iconic batting stance would be an amazing image to represent baseball. Or, maybe an image depicting his backwards hat.
Speaking of Jackie Robinson. Can you name any player in the history of baseball who’s had a bigger impact? The ripple effect since Robinson broke the color barrier was a literal game changer. Robinson’s courageous move from the Negro Leagues to MLB sparked an important moment in a league that has become more inclusive and diverse.
Of course, as we watch the games, we can see there’s still somewhat of a disparity, most of which is socioeconomic and has to do with baseball’s appeal to African Americans. But you can see that there’s much more international involvement in the game than there once was with just under 30 percent of big leaguers in 2017 having been born outside the U.S.
The more glaring number is the 7.7 percent of African American and Canadian American players. I don’t think racism is involved with players who do or don’t get called up in The Show, in most cases, but there is an issue with availability. And I believe as part of Jackie Robinson’s legacy, baseball needs to be more accessible to underprivileged children.
Now for the only reason Robinson wouldn’t work as the logo of MLB: There’s no unique, iconic action shot to Robinson’s name. His batting follow-through isn’t something you could put a silhouette on and have someone say, “That’s definitely Jackie Robinson.” The most famous picture of Robinson is a posed shot of him holding his bat. It’s not really much different from the current logo.
Finally, The Babe himself. No other name in any sports is spoken with such reverence as George Herman “Babe” Ruth Jr.
There is no professional football player or basketball player who is so widely regarded with the esteem of Babe Ruth. The Michael Jordan versus LeBron James debate runs daily across sports shows to try to decide who is the greatest basketball player of all-time. Even then, Boston Celtic great Bill Russell periodically gets his name thrown in the mix because of his years of sustained dominance in the NBA.
In the NFL, the positions are so different and specialized that it’s difficult to choose an iconic player to make the logo. In addition, the conversation that calls Tom Brady the greatest ever still brings in naysayers who want to give the credit to his longtime coach Bill Belichick.
The Babe changed the game of baseball by dominating pitchers by not just crushing home runs but leading the league in homers 12 of his 22 years, and most of those years the next guy in line wasn’t even close. Everyone knew who Babe Ruth was in a day that there was no live TV broadcast or internet and AM radio and newspapers dominated the mediascape. Simply by word of mouth, the whole world knew about the Colossus of Clout, even without ever seeing him hit a baseball.
There is no other swing that is more iconic than that of Babe Ruth. The stance held at the end of his swing can easily be identified by any casual baseball fan. Nearly any person who has ever skimmed an American history book could look at a silhouette of Ruth’s swing and know that’s the Great Bambino.
Who do you think deserves consideration for immortality as the MLB logo? Has your favorite player had enough of an impact on the game to merit consideration? Share your thoughts.