(Images via @tomdipace. Follow Tom for more Hall of Fame-worthy photography.)
Everybody knows a “one-upper.” First, you tell an awesome story about how you saved a puppy from a burning building. The room is impressed, you’re feeling great. Then “Mr. One-Upper” chimes in with an EVEN BETTER story about how HE saved TWO PUPPIES from a burning building. Now its a lose-lose situation because no matter how good your comeback is, the one-upper will just one-up you again, so its this never-ending vortex of one-upping until someone submits. Mariano Rivera doesn’t have this problem. Why? Because Mo just leans over to Mr. One-Upper and says with his humble smile, “I’m the only unanimous Hall of Famer ever.” Mic drop city.
In this article we’ll take a look at the newest class of Hall of Famers thanks to @tomdipace. WPW was around for the last two seasons of Mariano Rivera’s career and we did profile him. Fittingly, Mo wore Nike Cooperstown spikes and a black-on-black glove (at first Rawlings, then later Nike). Simplicity was all he needed to get the last out in 952 MLB games, saving 652 of them. Both are records.
Nike modernized the cleats for him late in his career, but Mo’s cleats were always inscribed with Philippians 4:13 (one interpretation: “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”). This is the same Bible verse Steph Curry writes on his own kicks, and one that many other great athletes have drawn inspiration from.
For his record breaking 602nd save, Nike made the cleats above.
Rivera had no career arc. He was dominant from the moment he entered the bullpen in 1996 through the last out in 2013. When he came up, he wore Rawlings gloves in black, switched to Zett, and then finally Nike. In the above photo he is wearing a Nike Pro Gold Tradition glove in black.
Rivera’s Zett glove from 1998.
2001 Rawlings PRO-R42
From 2013. Nike Diamond Elite Pro.
Just like his cutter, Mo was consistently sharp with his gear.
Another throwback, Roy “Doc” Halladay truly was a surgeon on the hill. He had a Randy Johnson-like nastiness to his game, matched with a dizzying combination of movement to his pitches, and pinpoint control. Doc carved. Won the Cy in both leagues. One of two guys to throw a postseason no-no (in the first postseason game of his career).
A fan of the Nike Shox line throughout his career, Halladay favored the Shox Fuse 2 cleats during his time with the Phillies.
The above glove looks like the gamer he’s wearing two photos up from 2009-2010 that shows the mesh back, but its not nearly as good-looking as the version below with red accents.
These can be scoured for on eBay.
He wore a Diamond Elite Pro II glove with the Phillies, a glove no longer in production but might be hunted for on eBay.
In his tenth and final year on the ballot, Edgar Martinez joins a class of pitchers (Rivera, Halladay, Mussina) against which he hit a combined .375. Here he is using all-black Franklin Pro Classics and some Reebok cleats.
Martinez was known for his obsessive dedication to his craft, hitting to a hefty lifetime .312 batting average with a Louisville Slugger M356 Ash, a model that is available for customization via Louisville Slugger. As you can see, “swag” was not Martinez’ concern. He was thinking gaps all day.
The man was so locked in that he would weigh his bats on a food-scale to get more precise measurements.
Mariners Teal, the inspiration behind the WPW logo, is simply one of the best colors in sports. Along with Reebok, Martinez also wore Mizuno cleats. Back then, about 95% of guys wore black cleats. Ho-hum. Pants are hemmed just right, though.
Speaking of well-hemmed pants, Mike Mussina racked up five All-Star appearances and seven Gold Glove awards in a 270-win career with the O’s and the Yanks. The Nike Air Coops with the orange swoosh were sneaky like his fastball, and the 12-to-6 knuckle-curve (grip shown above) was Mussina’s knee-buckler.
A Stanford economics graduate (6 months early), Mussina got guys out with his mind as often as his arm. To those in the clubhouse, Mussina was known for his love of crossword puzzles. In fact, there was some sort of film made about it. You can tell from the video that he did a lot of crossword puzzles because throughout the interview he just calls them “puzzles.” That’s hardcore crosswording if I’ve ever seen it. That cerebral advantage carried over to the mound, where, like all great pitchers, Moose was able to make quick adjustments to outwit hitters. He was so good at re-inventing himself that he won 20 games in his 18th and final season—the first pitcher ever to “ride off into the sunset” after a 20 win season.
Which 2019 Hall of Famer had the most swag?