Fred McGriff, generally known as the Crime Canine throughout his taking part in days, is lastly heading to Cooperstown. A reward for a stellar profession, together with practically 500 house runs, the primary baseman was inducted into the corridor of fame on July 23, 2023. Over his 19-year profession, McGriff compiled 5 All-Star alternatives, three Silver Slugger awards at his place, and hit 30 or extra house runs in a season 10 occasions. He’s maybe greatest recognized for his time within the Atlanta Braves group, the place he led the group to its first Main League Baseball championship. McGriff has been one former participant whom different ex-MLB gamers would at all times say must be in Cooperstown as McGriff himself mentioned in December when he was elected to the Corridor of Fame: “I run into loads of former gamers they usually all say I had a terrific profession and I must be within the Corridor of Fame. So I’m actually having fun with myself. It’s simply such a particular second to name myself a Corridor of Famer. Now it’s ‘Fred McGriff, Corridor of Famer.’”
McGriff, the son of a TV restore store proprietor and a schoolteacher, briefly mentioned the values the pair instilled in him throughout an emotional speech “It’s been a protracted journey. I encourage you, no matter your dream is, to by no means surrender. At all times keep in mind to remain true to who you’re. There shall be fires alongside the best way, however these fires can ignite the spark for the following season of your life.’’ In a present of respect, when McGriff was launched, your entire 50-member Corridor of Fame class shook his hand as he made his technique to the stage. Throughout his speech, when McGriff talked about his mom and father’s assist as he was first beginning to play baseball, the feelings began to stream. McGriff practically broke into tears however his spouse, Veronica, was within the crowd crying for the each of them.
McGriff’s story is one that can undoubtedly be a little bit rarer within the coming years as a result of Black American participation within the sport is waning. In 1991, McGriff’s heyday, there have been extra Black American baseball gamers on MLB rosters. At Opening Day that yr, 18.3% of MLB gamers have been American-born Black gamers, however in 2022 that proportion had fallen to 7.2%. In response to Esquire, socioeconomic elements clarify little of Main League Baseball’s lack of effort at bridging this hole. Even its managers are taking on the battle, as Houston Astros supervisor Dusty Baker mentioned the dearth of Black gamers within the 2022 World Collection: “Nicely, I don’t assume that’s one thing that baseball ought to actually be happy with,’’ Baker mentioned. “It seems unhealthy. It lets individuals know that it didn’t take a yr, or perhaps a decade to get thus far.”
Though there have been Black American gamers chosen on the high of the 2023 MLB entry draft, there may be nonetheless a battle to get extra Black American gamers into the league, notably from HBCU’s. In 2022, there was not a single participant from an HBCU invited to the league’s draft mix. There was additionally not a single participant from an HBCU rostered on an MLB franchise. As a response, Ken Griffey Jr., a hall-of-fame centerfielder put collectively a showcase designed to extend consciousness of the expertise positioned on the nation’s Traditionally Black Faculties and Universities.
In affiliation with the MLB-MLBPA Youth Improvement Basis, Griffey developed the occasion to deal with the dearth of consideration to these packages as he informed NPR: “Once you go to the lower-tier schools, they’re on the market as a result of they love the sport, as a result of they’re not being seen like they need to be,” Griffey says. “They’re not getting the publicity, like everybody else. And they also love the sport in a different way than somebody who’s simply good at it.” Hopefully, Griffey’s initiative can result in the following Fred McGriff, an American-born Black participant who loves the sport finally being rewarded with the sport’s highest honor.