Fred McGriff poses for a photograph with his plaque during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Clark Sports Center on July 23, 2023 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
COOPERSTOWN, New York – Former Major League first baseman Fred McGriff was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown, New York.
McGriff played 19 MLB seasons from 1986 to 2004 with the Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers, hitting 493 career home runs. He made his MLB debut on May 17, 1986, with the Blue Jays, and played his last game on July 15, 2004, with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
McGriff was not voted in during his 10 years on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, but was unanimously voted in by the Contemporary Era Players Committee. He is the 27th first baseman to be voted into the Hall of Fame, and was joined on stage by fellow Hall of Fame first basemen Jim Thome, Jeff Bagwell, Eddie Murray, Tony Perez, and Frank Thomas.
“I’ve been blessed my whole life and I continue to be blessed,” McGriff said in a videoconference last December. “It is quite an honor to be elected into the Hall of Fame. I want to thank the committee. I know it’s tough deciding who to vote for.”
McGriff’s career accomplishments include being a five-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger, being named All-Star Game Most Valuable Player in 1994, and winning the World Series in 1995 with the Atlanta Braves.
McGriff finished his career with 2,490 hits, 493 home runs, 1,550 RBI, and a .284 batting average. He played 2,239 of his career games at first base and 174 games as a designated hitter.
McGriff faced adversity in his first season with the Yankees Gulf Coast League team in 1981, hitting just .148. Due to his struggles, McGriff decided to play winter ball in Puerto Rico. After hitting .272 in rookie ball in 1982, McGriff’s stock rose, and he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.
McGriff hit 30-or-more home runs in a season for five different teams in his career. His first 30-homer season came in 1988, when he hit 34 in his third season with the Blue Jays. The only other player in MLB history to accomplish that feat is Gary Sheffield. McGriff hit a career-high 37 home runs in 1993, splitting the season between the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres.
The Baseball Hall of Fame has been a long time coming for McGriff, but he felt overjoyed when he received the call while at his house last December.
“It was the best phone call of my life,” he said during his speech on Sunday. “It is a great feeling to be recognized for your hard work.”
McGriff paved his own way into the National Baseball Hall of Fame with dedication and hard work. He even noted during his speech that he was cut from his high school varsity baseball team as a sophomore, but was drafted by the New York Yankees in the ninth round of the 1981 amateur draft just two years later.
“Stay true to who you are,” McGriff said. “What a journey, what a dream, playing in front of some great fans.”
McGriff joins a long list of accomplished first basemen in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but his dedication to his career and passion for the game is one of a kind.