|Batted: Left||Threw: Left|
|May 17, 1986 for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|July 15, 2004 for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|Career Highlights and Awards|
Frederick Stanley "Crime Dog" McGriff (born October 31, 1963 in Tampa, Florida) is a former left-handed Major League Baseball player who starred for several teams from the mid-1980s until the early 2000s. A power-hitting first baseman with a tall, lanky build, the five-time All-Star became, in 1992, the first player since the dead-ball era to lead both leagues in home runs. Although he has never hit more than 37 homers in a single season, he finished his career only seven homers away from joining the exclusive 500 home run club. He won a World Series title with the Atlanta Braves in 1995. He currently works in the Devil Rays' front office as an advisor. He also currently works for Catch 47 as a co-host for "The Baysball Show".
McGriff was a prospect in the New York Yankees minor league system in the early 1980s, but in 1982, the Yankees, in one of their famous shortsighted moves of the decade, dealt McGriff to the Toronto Blue Jays. He reached the majors full-time in 1987 and slugged 34 home runs the next year, his first of seven consecutive seasons with over thirty homers. McGriff emerged as the top power hitter in the American League in 1989 as he belted 36 home runs. His power numbers remained steady in 1990 as McGriff batted .300 and established himself as a consistent producer.
Move to the National League
On December 5, 1990, McGriff was traded to the San Diego Padres with Tony Fernandez in exchange for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter - two players who would be integral in Toronto's back-to-back World Series titles in the early 1990s.
He continued to flourish in the National League, hitting .278/.396/.474 for San Diego in 1991. He led the NL in home runs in 1992, three years after he had accomplished the same feat in the AL. On July 18, 1993, the Padres, seeking to unload their high-priced veterans, dealt McGriff to the Atlanta Braves. McGriff hit a pivotal home run in his first game with the Braves and his offensive tear during the second half of the season helped carry the team to a division title, with a record of 51-19 after his arrival. He finished with a career high 37 homers and fourth place in the NL MVP voting. McGriff was batting .318 and already had 34 home runs when the strike ended play in August 1994. It would have been a career-year for McGriff. He did manage to win the All-Star Game MVP Award that year after hitting the game-tying home run for the National League, after the NL trailed 7-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning.
McGriff's production remained steady in 1995 as he continued to be a successful clean-up hitter for the Braves. He hit two home runs in the 1995 World Series as he won his only championship ring. The quiet star hit .295/.365/494 with a career-best 107 RBIs on his way to another World Series appearance in 1996. With only 22 home runs in 1997, McGriff appeared to be in decline. Being controversially called out on strikes by umpire Eric Gregg on an outside pitch by Livan Hernandez during the 1997 NLCS was the last significant event for McGriff as a Brave. The team allowed him to be picked up by the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays after the season.
It looked like McGriff would be allowed to finish out his career in his hometown of Tampa. He batted .278, but with only 19 home runs. However, McGriff's career experienced a minor renaissance in 1999 when he hit a career-high .310 with 32 home runs. The season rejuvenated McGriff's career and gave hope of him reaching the coveted 500 home run mark. After another solid season in 2000, McGriff got off to a good start in 2001. He was heavily pursued by the contending Chicago Cubs around the trade deadline, and the soft-spoken McGriff waived his no-trade clause to allow himself to be dealt to Chicago on July 27, 2001. He hit a respectable .282 with 12 homers in 49 games with the Cubs, but the team did not reach the postseason.
McGriff had 30 home runs during a strong 2002 campaign, which earned him a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2003 season. He was 22 homers shy of 500 for his career, but the forty-year-old McGriff could only muster 13 with a .249 batting average.
During spring training in 2004, the Devil Rays re-signed McGriff in hopes of letting the veteran ballplayer hit 500 home runs. Unfortunately, he ended up with a .181 average and had hit just two home runs in his sporadic play from the end of May until mid-July. The Devil Rays released McGriff on July 28, 2004, seven home runs shy of 500. Despite the fact that McGriff only played in Tampa Bay late in his career, he collected 66 win shares as a Devil Ray, the team's all-time record.
While McGriff hoped to catch on with another team after being released by the Devil Rays, McGriff officially declared his retirement during spring training of 2005 when he received no calls from any teams requesting his services. He retired with 493 home runs, tied with baseball legend Lou Gehrig, and becomes Hall of Fame eligible in 2009.
- McGriff's nickname "Crime Dog" was bestowed on him by ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman, noted for his unusual and idiosyncratic player nicknames. The nickname is a play on McGruff, a cartoon dog created for American police to raise children's awareness on crime prevention. In addition, Berman would punctuate McGriff highlights by referring to them as "Crime Time", again, a wordplay referencing prime time TV. Unlike most of Berman's nicknames, the "Crime Dog" nickname entered into standard usage. McGriff has stated that he actually is fond of the nickname.
- In 2000, the production company Rocco's Jobbers produced a pilot for a television series based loosely on McGriff and the "Crime Dog" nickname. The concept of the series revolved around a professional baseball player who moonlighted as a crime-fighting vigilante named "The Crime Dog". The project was a major creative and financial disaster, failing to get picked up by any networks. It is believed that McGriff himself has the only surviving copy of the pilot episode, which was given to him by his friend and former team mate, David Wells, who has an ownership interest in Rocco's Jobbers. On casting sheets used to promote the project, the comedy-action series was described as "Major League meets Blade", referencing two successful movie franchises. Interestingly, Kirk Jones was cast as The Crime Dog in the pilot, and was cast as the titular character in the Blade: The Series in 2005.
- He has appeared in commercials for Tom Emanski Baseball Training videos on ESPN since 1991, which are still aired to this day on the network (one of television's longest running commercials ever). Because of the frequency and longevity of the Emanski commercials, ESPN analyst Kenny Mayne coined a second, less used nickname for McGriff, "Baseball Superstar", as he was referenced in the commercials as "Baseball Superstar Fred McGriff." Currently, McGriff hosts a radio show in Tampa and is an assistant baseball coach at Jesuit High School of Tampa
- His record of home runs hit in the most major league ballparks was eclipsed by Ken Griffey Jr. in 2006.
- Was the first person to hit a home run at the Skydome, now known as the Rogers Centre.
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- List of major league players with 2,000 hits
- List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- List of Major League Baseball home run champions
- List of Major League Baseball home run champions
- Los Angeles Dodgers all-time roster
- Baseball-Reference.com - Major league career statistics
|American League Player of the Month
|American League Home Run Champion
|National League Home Run Champion
|National League Player of the Month
|Major League Baseball All-Star Game
Most Valuable Player