The results are in, and the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee has elected first baseman Fred McGriff to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. McGriff’s candidacy received unanimous support from the 16 Hall of Fame Board-appointed electorates, which included Greg Maddux, a former teammate during McGriff’s time with the Atlanta Braves. McGriff had spent a decade (2010-2019) on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) ballot and received the most support from the voters in his final year of eligibility with 169 out of a possible 425 ballots (39.8 percent). This was McGriff’s first time appearing on an Era Committees ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame. A man of class and dignified excellence, McGriff’s vast accomplishments are no longer overshadowed by contemporaries who had severely damaged the ethos of baseball through the usage of performance enhancing substances.
The unassuming nature of McGriff’s statistical achievements, high moral character, and impressive consistency over parts of 19 major league seasons have resonated with a group of electorates comprised of Hall of Famers, executives, media members, and historians. One of the greatest mysteries in recent memory regarding BBWAA Hall of Fame voting is how McGriff only had a limited number of baseball writers supporting his candidacy. The phrase “Cooperstown Justice” has been used with great regularity by MLB Network’s Brian Kenny as the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee took matters into their own hands regarding McGriff. They demonstrated the importance of giving overlooked candidates a second chance from a different perspective.
With McGriff’s election, there are now 26 ball players enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame who have been identified as first basemen. 12 have been elected by the BBWAA with four in their first year of eligibility: Willie McCovey (1986), Eddie Murray (2003), Frank Thomas (2014), and Jim Thome (2018). The BBWAA elected Lou Gehrig by acclamation in 1939 through a non-traditional process. The remaining 14 are a combination of various iterations of the Veterans Committee (11), the 1971-1977 Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues (one), and the 2006 Special Committee on Negro Leagues (two). In terms of relevance and fan engagement, four Hall of Fame first basemen have played a portion of their careers in the 2000s: McGriff, Thomas, Thome, and Jeff Bagwell who was elected in his seventh year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot (2017).
McGriff is the seventh person elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame since 2014 who is associated with the powerhouse ball clubs assembled by the Braves over a period of 15 seasons. Between 1991-2005, they had won 14 division titles, five National League pennants, and the 1995 World Series. McGriff had played in 636 regular season ball games during his time in Atlanta over five seasons (1993-1997) where he was a three-time National League All-Star. In 45 postseason ball games with the Braves, McGriff had compiled an impressive .992 On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS) while hitting 10 home runs according to Baseball-Reference. In his two World Series with the Braves (1995 and 1996), McGriff had posted a .989 OPS with four home runs over 12 ball games.
In their third time on an Era Committees ballot, Don Mattingly (8) and Dale Murphy (6) fell short of receiving the 12 votes needed for election. In the 2018 Modern Baseball Era election, both had received fewer than seven votes. In the 2020 Modern Baseball Era election, Mattingly and Murphy had received three or fewer votes. First-time Era Committees candidate, Curt Schilling (7), had a strong showing in the election. Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Rafael Palmeiro each finished with less than four votes.
Next up, the Ford C. Frick Award winner will be announced on December 7th at the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego, California. The BBWAA will congratulate its Career Excellence Award winner at some point during the week as well. All voting members of the BBWAA have until December 31st to complete their Hall of Fame ballots as the election results will be announced on Tuesday, January 24th at 6:00 PM ET on the MLB Network. In December 2023, the Contemporary Baseball Era Non-Players Committee will evaluate the candidacies of managers, umpires, and executives whose accomplishments had occurred from 1980 to the present day.
- Baseball Hall Of Fame Unanimously Rewards Fred McGriff’s 19 Seasons Of Excellence
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