SAN DIEGO — Former big league slugger Fred McGriff was selected as the newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling denied once again.
McGriff was a unanimous choice among the 16 members of the inaugural contemporary baseball era committee, which considered a ballot of eight candidates whose primary contributions to the game took place after 1980. A player needs 75% of the vote to be elected.
“What an honor,” McGriff said in a Zoom call with the media from his home in Florida. “It’s a beautiful night in Tampa. I did it. I got in there. I feel as if I’ve been totally blessed my whole life and I continue to be blessed. It’s an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
McGriff, 59, starred for six different clubs during a 19-year career that ended in 2004. The five-time All-Star clubbed 493 homers and collected 2,493 hits while finishing in the top 10 of MVP balloting in six different seasons, including each season from 1989 to 1993.
McGriff hit 30 or more homers in a season for five different franchises, including the Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs. He was a key member of the 1995 Braves team that won the World Series, homering twice in the Fall Classic against Cleveland.
Still, in part due to a backlog of controversial candidates from the divisive steroid era, McGriff could not get over the hump in 10 appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, topping out at 69 votes (39.8%) in his final year of eligibility in 2019.
Since then, McGriff became a favored cause among Hall of Fame pundits for his consistent excellence and a track record free of the kind of performance-enhancer-related controversies that plagued other stars from his era. Now, the soft-spoken McGriff will be delivering the biggest speech of his life on July 23 during the induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York.
“For me it was always about consistency,” McGriff said. “I worked hard to get to this point. I went out and just played the game the way it was supposed to be played.”
While McGriff was celebrating the long-awaited honor, much of the chatter in the lead-up to Sunday’s announcement revolved around all-time greats on the ballot who have been associated with various controversies, including 354-game winner Clemens and all-time home run leader Bonds.
It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since falling short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others. On the 2022 BBWAA ballot, Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).
This year’s contemporary era panel was comprised of Hall of Fame members Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas, Alan Trammell; major league executives Paul Beeston, Theo Epstein, Derrick Hall, Arte Moreno, Kim Ng, Dave St. Peter, Ken Williams; and veteran media members Steve Hirdt, LaVelle Neal and Susan Slusser. The committee was chaired by Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark in a non-voting capacity.
Hall of Famer Chipper Jones was originally slated to participate in the deliberations but had to bow out due to illness. Hall replaced him on the panel, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.
Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Schilling had seven and Murphy had six. Nobody else had more than three.
The next time that contemporary era players can be considered is 2025, for possible inclusion in the 2026 induction ceremonies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.