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Know who thinks Fred McGriff deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? New member Chipper Jones

Jones voiced strong support for his former Braves teammate
Fred McGriff and Chipper Jones had plenty to celebrate during their time in Atlanta. [Times files 1995]
Fred McGriff and Chipper Jones had plenty to celebrate during their time in Atlanta. [Times files 1995]
Published Jan. 25, 2018

Chipper Jones had so much to be thrilled about Wednesday in celebrating his well-deserved election to baseball's Hall of Fame.

But he also took a couple moments during a media conference call to share his frustration that former Braves teammate Fred McGriff is getting so little support from the voters, with only 23.2 percent of the vote this time, and only one more year left on the ballot.

RELATED: From small Florida town, Chipper leads four into Hall

Asked about the Tampa-born McGriff, who had a reputation for playing clean, getting surpassed by players who used performance-enhancing drugs, Jones made his feelings clear:

"It's very unfortunate," Jones said. "I had a conversation with somebody close to me today about Fred McGriff. I feel like he is one of the guys that during his five years in between him being done playing (2004) and when he first hit the Hall of Fame ballot that a lot of people passed him by. And some of those people had clouds of suspicion and it really kind of made the number 500 (of home runs) obsolete.

"Having had this guy as a quote/unquote bodyguard hitting behind me in the lineup, there was nobody I enjoyed hitting in front of more than Fred McGriff. People feared this guy.

"Whenever he was traded. like (MLB Network host) Brian Kenny, I heard him say today, the event was seismic. This guy was a difference-maker. He was a helluva guy. A helluva ballplayer. He was even better in the
postseason.

"It's really unfortunate. I think if he had maybe been a little more outspoken, a little more flashy or whatnot, you may notice the numbers a little more. He was just a professional. He came to the ballpark every day, and he was one-ninth of the equation to help us win ballgames.

"Very little was ever said. I had to go up and ask for help from Freddy, but when I did he was always very gracious and gave it to me and took me under his wing.

"I'm a little biased but ultimately when you're looking at a guy that hit in the .280s, I don't know exactly what his career batting average was (.284), but upwards of 500 homers and 1,550 RBIs, those are Hall of Fame numbers in my book. Especially when he did it as consistently as he did."

RELATED: Getting into Hall is hard; so is voting

McGriff played 19 seasons in majors for the Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, his hometown Devil Rays, Cubs and Dodgers. Besides his quiet and low-key personality, his chances also may be hurt because of how often he changed teams, spending no more than five seasons with any one, in that there is one he is identified, and no team championing his cause, such as the Mariners do for Edgar Martinez.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays