Longtime first baseman Fred McGriff was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the only player elected out of the eight nominees under consideration by the 16-person Era Committee. McGriff was a unanimous vote, getting votes from all 16 members.
Twelve votes were required for selection, and of the other seven players on the ballot, Don Mattingly came closest with eight votes. Curt Schilling received seven votes, Dale Murphy six votes, and the other candidates (Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro) each got fewer than four votes.
McGriff hit .284/.377/.509 with 493 home runs over his career, which spanned 19 seasons (1986-2004) with the Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Rays, Cubs, and Dodgers. The Crime Dog’s impressive resume included a World Series ring with the 1995 Braves, as well as the individual honors of five All-Star appearances, three Silver Slugger awards, and six top-10 finishes in MVP voting. McGriff’s highest finish in the MVP race was fourth, during a 1993 season split between San Diego and Atlanta.
The Yankees actually drafted McGriff in the ninth round in 1981, but he was dealt to the Blue Jays in 1982 as part of a trade that longtime Bronx fans still remember with regret — ironically, Mattingly’s presence as the Yankees’ first baseman of the future was one of the reasons New York was comfortable in dealing McGriff. Blossoming as a star in Toronto, McGriff nevertheless found himself dealt to the Padres almost exactly 32 years ago to the day, in one of baseball’s most memorable blockbuster trades. The Jays moved McGriff and Tony Fernandez to the Padres for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter, in a swap that set the table for Toronto’s World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.
The Padres’ own hopes of contention faded, and McGriff was one of many notables dealt during a fire sale in 1993. The first baseman became one of the stalwarts of the Braves’ success throughout the 1990’s, and enjoyed some championship success himself with Atlanta’s 1995 title. Over his career in the postseason, McGriff continued to swing a mighty bat, hitting .303/.385/.532 with 10 homers over 218 PA in the playoffs.
McGriff then joined the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1998, with the Tampa native getting a chance to play in his hometown. Over five seasons with the Devil Rays and then in brief stints with the Cubs and Dodgers, McGriff was still at least an above-average hitter until well into his late 30’s, before finally starting to slow down with L.A. in 2003 and then a final season with Tampa Bay in 2004.
Though McGriff was a staple of any “professional hitter” discussion, he was also somewhat underrated during his career, perhaps owing to the fact that he played for several teams during his career rather than becoming an iconic figure for one particular franchise. The 1994-95 players’ strike was also often cited as a reason for McGriff’s lack of Cooperstown recognition, as those lost games surely cost McGriff the chance of surpassing the 500-homer threshold, leaving him with “only” 493 big flies.
These may have been reasons why McGriff never came close to the 75% voting threshold required for induction via the writers. It also didn’t help that McGriff had the bad luck of being up for election amidst a crowded era for candidates, including several players dogged by PED suspicions or other off-the-field issues — including Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro, and Schilling.
The “veterans committee” is the catch-all name for an annual panel of rotating membership, organized by the Hall Of Fame every year to gauge the cases of players who weren’t elected or considered by the writers, or non-playing personnel who aren’t a part of the writers’ ballot. Candidates are considered from the “Contemporary Baseball” (1980-present) and “Classic Baseball” (1980 and earlier) time periods, and broken down into a three-year rotation…
- Contemporary Baseball, players: 2022, 2025, 2028, etc.
- Contemporary Baseball, managers/executives/umpires: 2023, 2026, 2029, etc.
- Classic Baseball, all candidates: 2024, 2027, 2030, etc.
As such, the seven players who weren’t voted in on this year’s ballot will have to wait until December 2025 to receive another look, and it isn’t necessarily a guarantee that any of those seven will even make the 2025 shortlist. However, since several of the names on the veterans committee change every year, it is quite possible that a HOF candidate who missed out this time might be regarded more favorably by a future committee.
That being said, the rather drastic lack of support for Bonds and Clemens on this ballot might be a strong hint that it will be some time before the hard feelings dissipate over the two superstars’ alleged use of PEDs. While Bonds and Clemens weren’t inducted by the writers, their final year on the ballot saw them each obtain at least 65% of the vote, falling respectably close to that 75% threshold. Likewise, Palmeiro (who was suspended for PED usage in 2005) lasted only four years on the writers’ ballot before falling off, and was perhaps even a surprise candidate for inclusion on this year’s Contemporary Baseball shortlist. Schilling’s history of inflammatory and controversial public statements and tweets also stalled his support from the writers, and his first appearance on an Era Committee also saw him fall well short of induction.
It also seems possible that the overwhelming show of support for McGriff was also something of a repudiation of the PED era. McGriff, Mattingly, and Murphy were seen as the most controversy-free candidates on this particular eight-player ballot, with no ties to PEDs or other off-the-field issues. Though McGriff’s power numbers were impressive in their own right, the overwhelming homer totals posted by some of McGriff’s peers in the late 90’s and early 2000’s had the effect of making his numbers look lesser in comparison, which may have been another reason why McGriff never quite got his full due either during his career or on the writers’ ballot.
McGriff will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23. He will be joined by any players elected via the writers’ ballot, and those results will be announced on January 24.
This year’s 16-person Contemporary Baseball committee was comprised of Angels owner Arte Moreno, former Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, Twins president/CEO Dave St. Peter, Diamondbacks president/CEO Derrick Hall, White Sox executive VP Ken Williams, Marlins GM Kim Ng, former Red Sox/Cubs front office boss Theo Epstein, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, longtime statistician and broadcaster Steve Hirdt, and Hall-of-Fame players Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell. Chipper Jones was initially supposed to be part of the committee, but couldn’t participate due to illness and was replaced by Hall.