The long wait for Baseball Hall of Fame recognition is finally over for Fred McGriff.
McGriff was unanimously elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame through a vote by the Hall’s “Contemporary Era” committee, earning all 16 votes as others who dropped off the writers’ ballot saw their support shrivel.
Yankees great Don Mattingly received eight votes and pitcher Curt Schilling seven, falling well short of the 12 needed for election. Two-time Atlanta Braves MVP Dale Murphy earned six votes.
But slugger Barry Bonds — a seven-time MVP — and pitcher Roger Clemens — a seven-time Cy Young Award winner — failed to garner at least four votes. That less than 25% support is a significant dropoff from the 66% and 65% of votes Bonds and Clemens received, respectively, from the Baseball Writers’ Assn. of America in their final year on that ballot.
McGriff’s accomplishments were significantly overshadowed by the huge power numbers produced in baseball’s so-called steroid era. In that light, his election can be viewed as correcting an oversight.
“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.
One of the most consistent sluggers of his generation, “The Crime Dog” finished his 19-year MLB career just seven home runs short of the 500 mark once considered to guarantee a ticket to Cooperstown.
During his decade on the BBWAA ballot beginning in 2010, McGriff never received even 40% support by the time his eligibility expired in 2019. Given a second chance, the post-1980 Era committee overwhelmingly validated McGriff’s credentials.
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The Hall’s 16-member committee, comprised of former players, baseball executives, media members and historians, revealed the results Sunday at MLB’s Winter Meetings in San Diego — with McGriff elected unanimously.
“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”
McGriff had 10 seasons of 30 or more homers, leading the American League with 36 for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1989 and claiming the National League title in 1992 when he hit 35 for the San Diego Padres. The five-time All-Star, also played for the Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.
The left-handed hitting first baseman helped lead five teams to the postseason, two of them to the World Series. He won his only World Series title with Atlanta in 1995, hitting a pair of home runs and posting a .955 OPS in a six-game win over Cleveland.
Despite McGriff’s 493 career home runs, two other sluggers on the Contemporary Era ballot had even more: Palmeiro with 569 and Bonds with 762. However, Palmeiro tested positive for PEDs in his final MLB season and Bonds was dogged by PED allegations as he was setting the all-time single-season and career home run records.
Among the players under consideration by the committee this year, Schilling came the closest of anyone to being elected by the baseball writers — garnering 71.1% of the vote in 2021. However, he — along with Bonds and Clemens — fell off the writers ballot last year after their 10 years of eligibility expired.
Contibuting: The Associated Press