By Devon POV Mason | Contributor
Former MLB player Fred McGriff played in the league for 19 years and enjoyed a successful, yet harshly underrated career.
Throughout his career, he won multiple individual awards, while making a deep impact on every team he played for. He also developed a nickname during his time in the league. “The Crime Dog” would stick with him for the rest of his career.
McGriff initially signed with the New York Yankees after the team selected him in the ninth round of the 1981 MLB Draft. The next year he was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays, and four years later, he would make his MLB debut with the Blue Jays.
He spent his first five MLB seasons with the Blue Jays and hit a respectable .278 during those years. In 1989, McGriff won his first Silver Slugger award batting .269 with 36 home runs and 92 RBIs.
Following his time up north he was traded to the San Diego Padres. In his second season with the Padres, he was named to his first All-Star team and won his second Silver Slugger award. McGriff continued to take his game to the next level. During the middle of his career, he joined his third team, the Atlanta Braves. The slugging first baseman joined a talented roster, that would go onto have a lot of success.
During the 1994 season, McGriff made his second all-star team, and he finished the season batting .318 while hitting 34 home runs. The next season the Braves won the 1995 World Series. McGriff hit .261 with two home runs and three RBIs in six games against the Cleveland Indians,
McGriff was a player that many people knew across the league. During the 1990s and 2000s, he appeared in multiple baseball instructional videos, which would get a lot of viewers. He teamed up with Tom Emanski a baseball coach who did a lot of instructional videos and lessons for players, to make those videos. McGriff and Emanski had a relationship before he made it to the majors, as Emanski helped the “Crime Dog” become just that by helping him with his swing early in his baseball career. Safe to say it paid off.
During those years McGriff had a lot of success, as he was good in the field and with his bat. He was already a World Series champion and had made numerous All-Star appearances. So seeing McGriff in those videos attracted a ton of positive feedback and attention.
As far as how the “Crime Dog” name came about?
ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman gave McGriff the nickname, as McGriff’s last name is similar to “McGruff “The Crime Dog’s name. McGruff was an animated dog that helped increase crime awareness and personal safety.
It was fitting that Berman gave McGriff that nickname because of his last name and it stuck with lanky power-hiter the rest of his underrated career.
He finished his career with a .284 batting average, 2,490 hits, 493 home runs, and 1,550 RBIs. Many believe he needed those seven more home runs to reach the magic number of 500 and have a real shot at making it to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. But if guys like Jim Thome and Jeff Bagwell and Harold Baines are in the Hall, then McGriff’s omission is…well a Crime… Dawgs