Longtime first baseman Fred McGriff was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the only player elected out of the eight nominees under consideration by the 16-person Era Committee. McGriff was an unanimous vote, getting votes from all 16 members.
Twelve votes were required for selection, and of the other seven players on the ballot, Don Mattingly came closest with eight votes. Curt Schilling got seven votes, Dale Murphy six votes, and the other candidates (Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro) each got fewer than four votes.
McGriff hit .284/.377/.509 with 493 home runs over his career, which spanned 19 seasons (1986-2004) with the Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Rays, Cubs, and Dodgers. The Crime Dog’s impressive resume included a World Series ring with the 1995 Braves, as well as the individual honors of five All-Star appearances, three Silver Slugger awards, and six top-10 finishes in MVP voting. McGriff’s highest finish in the MVP race was fourth, during a 1993 season split between San Diego and Atlanta.
Long considered one of the game’s best hitters, McGriff was also somewhat underrated during his career, perhaps owing to the fact that he played for several teams during his career rather than becoming an iconic figure for one particular franchise. The 1994-95 players’ strike was also often cited as a reason for McGriff’s lack of Cooperstown recognition, as those lost games surely cost McGriff the chance of surpassing the 500-homer threshold, leaving him with “only” 493 big flies.
These may have been reasons why McGriff never came close to the 75% voting threshold required for induction via the writers. It also didn’t help that McGriff had the bad luck of being up for election amidst a crowded era for candidates, including several players dogged by PED suspicions or other off-the-field issues — including Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro, and Schilling.
The “veterans committee” is the catch-all name for an annual panel of rotating membership, organized by the Hall Of Fame every year to gauge the cases of players who weren’t elected or considered by the writers, or non-playing personnel who aren’t a part of the writers’ ballot. Candidates are considered from the “Contemporary Baseball” (1980-present) and “Classic Baseball” (1980 and earlier) time periods, and broken down into a three-year rotation…
- Contemporary Baseball, players: 2022, 2025, 2028, etc.
- Contemporary Baseball, managers/executives/umpires: 2023, 2026, 2029, etc.
- Classic Baseball, all candidates: 2024, 2027, 2030, etc.
As such, the seven players who weren’t voted in on this year’s ballot will have to wait until December 2025 to receive another look, and it isn’t necessarily a guarantee that any of those seven will even make the 2025 shortlist. However, since several of the names on the veterans committee change every year, it is quite possible that a HOF candidate who missed out this time might be regarded more favorably by a future committee.
That being said, the rather drastic lack of support for Bonds and Clemens on this ballot might be a strong hint that it will be some time before the hard feelings dissipate over the two superstars’ alleged use of PEDs. While Bonds and Clemens weren’t inducted by the writers, their final year on the ballot saw them each obtain at least 65% of the vote, falling respectably close to that 75% threshold. Likewise, Palmeiro (who was suspended for PED usage in 2005) lasted only four years on the writers’ ballot before falling off, and was perhaps even a surprise candidate for inclusion on this year’s Contemporary Baseball shortlist. Schilling’s history of inflammatory and controversial public statements and tweets also stalled his support from the writers, and his first appearance on an Era Committee also saw him fall well short of induction.
This year’s 16-person committee was comprised of Angels owner Arte Moreno, former Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, Twins president/CEO Dave St. Peter, Diamondbacks president/CEO Derrick Hall, White Sox executive VP Ken Williams, Marlins GM Kim Ng, former Red Sox/Cubs front office boss Theo Epstein, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, longtime statistician and broadcaster Steve Hirdt, and Hall-of-Fame players Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell. Chipper Jones was initially supposed to be part of the committee, but couldn’t participate due to illness and was replaced by Hall.
More to come…