The National Baseball Hall of Fame will welcome at least one new member in 2023. Sunday night the Hall of Fame's Contemporary Era Committee announced it has voted Fred McGriff into Cooperstown. He received a full slate of 16 votes from the 16-person committee. McGriff was the only one of eight players on the Contemporary Era ballot to make the cut on Sunday. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling fell short of the twelve votes needed for induction.
Here are the full voting results, courtesy of the Hall:
- 16 votes: McGriff
- 8 votes: Don Mattingly
- 7 votes: Curt Schilling
- 6 votes: Dale Murphy
- Fewer than four votes: Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro
McGriff spent the maximum 10 years on the BBWAA's Hall of Fame ballot from 2010-19 and topped out at 39.8 percent of the vote in 2019. Seveny-five percent is needed for induction. This was his first time appearing on one of the Hall of Fame's committee ballots, which are intended to review personnel not voted into Cooperstown by the BBWAA.
A career .284/.377/.509 hitter, McGriff played for six teams (Braves, Blue Jays, Cubs, Devil Rays, Dodgers, Padres) in parts of 19 MLB seasons from 1986-2004. Originally a Yankees draft pick in 1981, McGriff was traded to Toronto as a minor leaguer in the Mike Morgan/Dale Murray swap in Dec. 1982. He is a five-time All-Star and he received MVP votes in nine different seasons.
McGriff retired with 493 career home runs, tied with Lou Gehrig for the most in history among players not in the 500 home run club. He was supremely durable throughout his career -- McGriff averaged 149 games a year from 1988-2002 -- and the 1994-95 players' strike likely cost him a shot at 500 homers. The strike cut 66 total games of Atlanta's schedule those two years, McGriff's age 30-31 seasons. He was in his prime and he slugged 61 homers in 257 games those two seasons.
Only nine of the 28 players ahead of McGriff on the all-time home run list are not in the Hall of Fame. Two are active (Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols) and will be first ballot Hall of Famers as soon as they're eligible. The other seven have been kept out due to performance-enhancing drug ties or suspicions: Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, and Sammy Sosa.
McGriff won a World Series championship ring with the 1995 Braves and he was a dominant postseason performer: .303/.385/.532 with 10 home runs in 50 career postseason games. He is the fifth member of that 1995 Braves team to be voted into the Hall of Fame, joining Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz.
Here is the 16-person committee that voted in McGriff (note: Chipper Jones was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks executive Derrick Hall after he was unable to partake due to illness):
- Hall of Famers: Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas, Alan Trammell
- Executives: Paul Beeston, Theo Epstein, Derrick Hall, Arte Moreno, Kim Ng, Dave St. Peter, Kenny Williams
- Media: Steve Hirdt, LaVelle Neal, Susan Slusser
The committee includes two of McGriff's former teammates (Jones and Maddux), an executive who had McGriff on his team (Beeston), and several Hall of Famers who were similarly outspoken against performance-enhancing drugs and/or failed to get into Cooperstown on the BBWAA's ballot (Morris, Smith, Thomas, Trammell).
The Contemporary Era Committee is separate from the BBWAA's Hall of Fame ballot and is the current iteration of the Veterans Committee. It considers players who made their greatest contributions to the game after 1980. The Contemporary Era Committee will meet in Dec. 2023 to consider non-players, then the Classic Era Committee (prior to 1980) will meet in Dec. 2024.
. Votes are due by the end of the year and the rest of the 2023 Hall of Fame class will be announced Jan. 24. Induction weekend is July 21-24 in Cooperstown.