McGriff, Rolen anticipating induction day

Written by: Aaron McCoy

In just nine days, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will welcome the Class of 2023 to Cooperstown to celebrate the exceptional careers of Fred McGriff and Scott Rolen.

The pair of electees addressed members of the media on Friday for the final time before the July 21-24 Induction Weekend.

Braves Gear

Represent the all-time greats and know your purchase plays a part in preserving baseball history.

Cardinals Gear

Represent the all-time greats and know your purchase plays a part in preserving baseball history.

“I’ve just been totally blessed,” McGriff said. “It’s been a long journey, but it’s been an awesome journey.”

McGriff was elected to the Hall of Fame in December of 2022 through the Contemporary Baseball Players Era Committee process. A five-time All-Star Game selection, McGriff played 19 seasons with the Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Devil Rays, Cubs and Dodgers.

With the Braves, McGriff played a crucial role in the club’s success during the 1990s. During the ’95 season, the “Crime Dog” hit cleanup in each of his league-high 144 games-played and helped bring the Braves their first World Series title to Atlanta.

“Baseball is an individual game and a team game, and when you all come together and finally pull it off and win a World Series Championship, it’s just a beautiful feeling,” McGriff said regarding one of his fondest career memories. A year prior, McGriff was the hero and MVP of the 1994 All-Star Game, where he kept the National League’s hopes of victory alive in the bottom of the ninth with a pinch-hit, two-run home run that sent the game into extra innings.

Consistency was key for McGriff as he finished in the Top 10 of his league’s Most Valuable Player Award voting in six straight seasons, and he had 10 seasons in which he slugged at least 30 home runs. He also was the first player in history to record a 30-homer season for five different franchises.

Receiving praise for staying clean during baseball’s “Steroid Era,” McGriff finished his career with a .284 batting average, 493 home runs and 1,550 RBI.

“I took it as a compliment,” McGriff said regarding the comparisons to other players during this time, “having integrity and going out there and playing the game like it should be played.”

Fellow Class of 2023 electee Scott Rolen had nothing but good things to say about McGriff during his time with the media.

“As a player, you knew who the Hall of Famers were that you were playing with and against every day in your era,” said Rolen, quoting the late Hall of Famer Joe Morgan. “I always believed that Fred McGriff was a Hall of Famer. It’s an honor to be inducted with Fred.”

Rolen explained that it is a surreal experience to be part of baseball’s greatest team with baseball royalty such as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.

“That’s not real,” Rolen said. “These guys are true legends, and I get the chance to share that (plaque) gallery with them, for which I’m greatly honored.”

Rolen was elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in January. An eight-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base, Rolen played 17 seasons for the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds. Beginning his career in Philadelphia, he unanimously won National League Rookie of the Year in 1997, picked up his first Gold Glove Award in 1998 and claimed a Silver Slugger Award in 2002 before he was traded to St. Louis.

“It was such a great landing spot for me, development wise,” Rolen said of his early days with the Phillies. “I learned to play the game there. There was a toughness there that you had to play with that was a huge piece of my career going forward.”

Compiling all that he learned in Philadelphia, Rolen took his experience at the hot corner and tallied three more Gold Glove Awards, along with four All-Star Game nods in each of his first four seasons with the Cardinals. He also was an integral part of the 2006 club that brought St. Louis its 10th World Series victory. A Cardinals logo will be featured on Rolen’s plaque when it is unveiled during the Induction Ceremony.

After a short stint in Toronto, Rolen would step into a leadership role and become a vocal clubhouse presence in Cincinnati during his last four years, picking up two more All-Star Game selections and another Gold Glove Award in his time with the Reds. He finished his career with a .855 OPS, 316 home runs, 118 stolen bases and 517 doubles.

“I tried to play with as much max-effort as I could,” Rolen said. “Hitting was never a real natural situation for me. I really had to work on it daily. I really had to grind through every at-bat.”

Rolen and McGriff will receive the ultimate reward for their hard work and dedication, as they will be enshrined on July 23 during the Induction Ceremony, which will be televised by MLB Network.

Aaron McCoy is the 2023 public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Leadership Development

Related Stories

Fred McGriff unanimously elected to Hall of Fame

Contemporary Baseball Era Committee tabs five-time All-Star as member of Class of 2023.

Scott Rolen elected to Hall of Fame by BBWAA

Scott Rolen, a seven-time All-Star who won eight Gold Glove Awards for fielding at third base during a 17-season career in the major leagues, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Tuesday in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America

Exuberant McGriff meets the media as Hall of Famer

The newest member of the Class of 2023 shares his thoughts on his first 24 hours as a Hall of Famer.

Rolen speechless after emotional visit to Hall

Scott Rolen visited the Hall of Fame on Feb. 28 in advance of his induction.

McGriff’s 1994 All-Star Game homer was height of season

A month before the strike, Fred McGriff highlighted the 1994 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh.