Legends of YesterYear: Looking Back at Fred McGriff’s HOF Career
Fred McGriff, “The Crime Dog”, will be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame come this summer, 19 years after retiring from the game. He was selected by the 16-person Era Committee, and was a clean sweep receiving all 16 votes beating out seven other nominees.
The Tampa, Florida native was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 9th round of the MLB draft. After spending two seasons with the Yankees Gulf Coast team, New York traded McGriff to the Toronto Blue Jays for relief pitcher Dale Murray. Ironically, Murray went on to play in two and a half season with the Yankees (1983-1985), before retiring in 1985.
As for McGriff, he made his Major League Debut with the Blue Jays on May 17, 1986 and one day later, he recorded his first of many base hits. He only played in three MLB games that season, as he finished up in AAA batting .259, with 19 home runs and 74 RBIs. That would be the last time he would play in a minor league game again for nearly 20 years.
In 1987, McGriff played in his first full season with Toronto and batted .247, with 16 doubles, 20 home runs, 43 RBIs and 63 walks through 107 games. Then for the next seven straight seasons he hit no less then 31 home runs, while appearing in two All Star games, winning three Silver Slugger awards and was a candidate to be named the League MVP in six straight seasons.
During that streak of home runs, McGriff was actually traded along with SS Tony Fernandez to the San Diego Padres for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter on December 5, 1990. After the trade, Toronto would actually go on to win World Series in 1992 and 1993 with Alomar and Carter leading the way.
As for McGriff he did become an All Star with San Diego in 1992, but in the middle of the 1993 season, the Padres sent McGriff to the Atlanta Braves for three prospects Melvin Nieves, Donnie Elliott and Vince Moore. Nieves, who made appearances in seven seasons, had two good seasons with the Detroit Tigers in 1996 and 1997 when he hit at least 20 home runs in each season. Elliot appeared in 30 games for the Padres in 1994 and one game in 1995, then never made it back to the majors. Moore made it as high as Double A, then spent seven seasons playing with Independent teams, before retiring from the game in 2004.
With Atlanta, McGriff made three straight appearances in the All Star Game from 1994 to 1996, while also helping the Braves to three straight NL East Division Titles from 1995 to 1997 and two NL Pennants (1995 and 1996). In 1995, the Braves and McGriff won the World Series defeating the Cleveland Indians 4 games to 2.
After four productive seasons, the Braves did not protect McGriff during the 1998 Expansion Draft and they then traded him to the Expansion team, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The trade also ended his ability to play postseason baseball, as four and a half seasons with the Devil Rays and one each with the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers, didn’t prove to be eventful. He still put up McGriff numbers, even making the All Star team with Tampa in 2000, but the teams were not good enough to play beyond the regular season.
Even though McGriff played with six teams throughout his 19 years in the Majors, he was consistently putting up big numbers and showing that he was one of the greats in the game.
McGriff had 10 seasons when he hit at least 30 home runs, drove in over 100 runs in eight seasons, and was elected to five All Star Games, while finishing in the top 4 for the AL MVP race in 1993.
It would have been great to see McGriff win more then one World Series crown, but that will never negate the amazing career that he achieved, as he accumulated 493 career home runs, tying Lou Gehrig at #26 on the MLB All-Time Home Run list.
Congrats to the Crime Dog on an amazing career and a well deserved Hall of Fame call.
Our Senior Editor Brian Koss recently wrote an article about Fred McGriff’s call to the Hall.
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