Fred McGriff Unanimously Elected to Hall of Fame by Contemporary Baseball Era Committee; Belle, Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro Fall Well Short

Fred McGriff hitting with the Toronto Blue Jays
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Fred McGriff Elected to Hall of Fame

First baseman Fred McGriff, the first player in major league history to hit 30-plus home runs with five different teams, is the newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. “The Crime Dog,” who smacked 493 home runs in his 19-year career, earned induction on a unanimous vote from the 16-member Contemporary Baseball Era Committee Sunday. Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch made the announcement Sunday evening in a live broadcast on MLB Network’s MLB Tonight.

The Contemporary Era Committee considered eight players for induction, all of whom had their most significant impact from 1980 onward. Those eight players were outfielder Albert Belle, outfielder Barry Bonds, pitcher Roger Clemens, first baseman Don Mattingly, outfielder Dale Murphy, first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, pitcher Curt Schilling, and McGriff. Players needed 12 votes (75%) for induction.

The Committee consisted of Hall of Fame members Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas, and Alan Trammell; major league executives Paul Beeston, Theo Epstein, Derrick Hall, Arte Moreno, Kim Ng, Dave St. Peter, and Ken Williams; and veteran media members/historians Steve Hirdt, LaVelle Neal, and Susan Slusser. Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark presided over the committee in a non-voting role. Hall of Famer Chipper Jones had to be replaced last minute by Hall due to illness.

McGriff led the voting with 16 votes. Mattingly followed with eight (50%). Schilling had seven (43.8%), while Murphy had six (37.5%). Belle, Bonds, Clemens, and Palmeiro each received fewer than four votes.

Career of Fred McGriff

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Fred McGriff made his major league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he spent five seasons (1986–90). During his tenure, he received MVP votes in each of his last three seasons. In 1989, he won the Silver Slugger. McGriff belted 30-plus home runs in each of his final three seasons in Toronto.

On December 5, 1990, he was traded to the San Diego Padres with shortstop Tony Fernandez for Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar and outfielder Joe Carter. McGriff continued to shine in San Diego, where he spent two and a half seasons (1991–93). He hit 30-plus homers in his two full seasons there, drawing MVP votes in both seasons. In addition, he won the 1992 Silver Slugger and started the 1992 All-Star Game in San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium.

To Atlanta and the World Series

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Midway through July 1993, the struggling Padres traded McGriff to the Atlanta Braves, who were trying to catch the San Francisco Giants for the NL West title. His addition to the Braves sparked them to a famous comeback. On July 19, the Braves were nine games behind the Giants with 68 games left. From the day of McGriff’s first game (July 20) onward, they went 51–17 to catch the Giants, who went 41–27 over the same span. This gave the 104-win Braves a one-game victory over the 103-win Giants. It was the last year of the two-division, non-Wild Card Era.

While in Atlanta (1993–97), he hit 130 home runs. The Braves won two pennants (1995, 1996) and the 1995 World Series during that span. From 1994 to 1997, he hit 25-plus homers in each season, breaking the 30-homer barrier in the strike-shortened 1994 season (34). Also in 1994, he earned All-Star Game MVP honors, hitting a dramatic pinch-hit two-run home run off Lee Smith with one out in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings. The NL won the game in the bottom of the tenth to snap their six-game losing streak. Montréal Expos left fielder Moises Alou hit a double to score Hall of Fame right fielder Tony Gwynn — McGriff’s former teammate — from first with the winning run. McGriff also made the All-Star team in 1995 and 1996, starting the game both years.

Heading Home

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His last at-bat as a Brave came in Game Six of the 1997 NLCS, grounding to second in the bottom of the eighth off Kevin Brown of the Florida Marlins. The Marlins won the game, 7–4, to win the pennant en route to the 1997 World Series title. That off-season, the Braves sold his contract to the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, allowing McGriff — a Tampa native — to play at home. He spent three and a half seasons there, hitting 99 home runs. Thirty-two of those came in 1999. While with the Devil Rays, he made his final All-Star appearance in 2000.

McGriff joined the Chicago Cubs through a 2001 trade that came near the trade deadline. After the 2002 season, where he hit 30 home runs for the final time in his career, he signed a one-year free agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. McGriff played 86 games for the Dodgers in the 2003 season. He signed another free agent deal with the Devil Rays during Spring Training 2004. McGriff played the final 27 games of his career with his hometown team before being released in July.

Looking Ahead

Hall of Fame Weekend 2023 will be July 21–24 in Cooperstown, New York. The Induction Ceremony will be Sunday, July 23. On Tuesday, January 24, MLB Network will air the BBWAA Election results for the Class of 2023.

The Contemporary Baseball Era Committee will next consider players in 2025 for the 2026 induction ceremony. In the winter of 2023, they will consider executives/managers/umpires from the Contemporary Era. The Classic Era Committee, covering candidates whose primary contributions came prior to 1980, will meet in 2024 to consider players for the 2025 induction ceremony.

Main Photo:

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Players Mentioned:

Fred McGriff, Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Curt Schilling, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas, Alan Trammell, Ken Williams, Chipper Jones, Tony Fernandez, Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, Moises Alou, Tony Gwynn, Kevin Brown

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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