Fred McGriff Instant PC: 10 Career-Defining Crime Dog Cards

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With so many different base cards, subsets, parallels, memorabilia cards and autographs, building out a collection for a single player can be overwhelming.

Luckily, the 10-Card Instant PC article series is here to help.

There are more than 3,000 different Fred McGriff cards, according to the Beckett database.

So where does one begin putting together a Fred McGriff PC?

These 10 cards serve as an excellent representation of his playing career and footprint on the hobby, making them a great place to start.

1986 Donruss #28 Fred McGriff RC

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A ninth-round pick in the 1981 draft by the New York Yankees, McGriff was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays on Dec. 9, 1982 in a five-player deal that sent reliever Dale Murray to the Yankees.

He was included in the 1986 Donruss release despite not making his MLB debut until later that year, and that foresight means that Fleer and Topps missed the boat on releasing a true Rookie Card of one of the 1990s top sluggers.

1986 Donruss Fred McGriff Rookie Card

1986 Leaf #28 Fred McGriff RC

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The 1986 Leaf set was identical in appearance to that year’s Donruss product aside from “Leaf” replacing “Donruss” in the upper left corner and the back featuring both English and French write-ups to cater to the Candian market.

The checklist was a scaled down 264-card set compared to the 660-card Donruss release, and the only “Rated Rookies” to appear in the leaf set were McGriff (Blue Jays), Andres Galarraga (Expos) and Dave Shipanoff (Phillies, Edmonton native).

1986 Leaf Fred McGriff Rookie Card

1987 Topps Traded #74T Fred McGriff

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It may not be a rookie, but McGriff’s first Topps card is still worth including in any budding PC.

Platooning in the DH role with a young Cecil Fielder, McGriff hit .247/.376/.505 with 20 home runs in 356 plate appearances as a rookie in 1987. That earned him a spot in the 1987 Topps Traded set that also includes a Greg Maddux XRC.

1991 Topps Traded #77T Fred McGriff

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After winning 86 games to finish second in the AL East in 1990, the Blue Jays decided to shake things up. They shipped McGriff—fresh off a 35-homer season—and starting shortstop Tony Fernandez to the San Diego Padres in exchange for 23-year-old second baseman Roberto Alomar and veteran slugger Joe Carter.

Those two proved to be integral members of back-to-back World Series winners in Toronto, while McGriff continued to rake in San Diego, leading the NL with 35 home runs in 1992 while earning his first All-Star selection.

1993 Triple Play Nicknames #10 Fred McGriff

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McGruff the Crime Dog was a staple in 1980s and ’90s advertising as part of the National Crime Prevention Council’s efforts to enhance public safety, with the animated bloodhound promising to “Take a Bite Out of Crime.”

It’s not hard to connect the dots from there to McGriff being dubbed the Crime Dog, and it’s only fitting that this Triple Play insert card be included to honor one of the most memorable nicknames of the 1990s.

1993 Topps Traded #88T Fred McGriff

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McGriff joined the Atlanta Braves in a 1993 trade deadline deal that sent Melvin Nieves, Donnie Elliott and Vince Moore to San Diego. He hit .310/.392/.612 with 19 home runs and 55 RBI in 68 games after the trade, helping lead the Braves to a 104-win season and a division title.

He spent the next four seasons in Atlanta, slugging 130 home runs and earning three All-Star nods during his time with the team.

1994 Stadium Club #111 Ron Gant/David Justice/Fred McGriff

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When the Braves acquired McGriff, he joined an already dangerous lineup in 1993 that was led by David Justice (40 HR, 120 RBI) and Ron Gant (36 HR, 117 RBI), and that trio was honored on this 1994 Stadium Club card.

While the Braves were always viewed as a team led by its terrific starting pitching, those three sluggers also deserve their fair share of the credit for helping launch a run of 14 straight division titles.

1995 Donruss Dominators #3 Frank Thomas/Jeff Bagwell/Fred McGriff

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The 1990s were loaded with power-hitting first basemen and fun insert cards, and this card does a wonderful job combining the two.

The 1995 Donruss release was littered with insert sets, and Dominators was a Series 2 exclusive found 1:24 packs. The cards featured Donruss’ picks for the three best players at each position, and McGriff was selected alongside reigning MVP winners Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell at first base. A peelable protective film gave the cards a high-end feel, and the silver foil back was just as sharp as the front.

1996 Leaf Signature Extended Autographs #124 Fred McGriff SP/1000

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One of the few autograph cards from McGriff’s playing days was part of the iconic 1996 Leaf Signature set.

Not featured in the product’s original release, McGriff was part of the Extended Series that came out five months later. With a print run of just 1,000, it’s a tough one to find, but not impossible.

1998 Topps Inaugural Devil Rays #349 Fred McGriff

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The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sent $20,000 to the Braves in exchange for McGriff prior to the 1997 expansion draft, taking on his $5.5 million salary in the process. Andres Galarraga replaced him in Atlanta, and the Rays had a veteran slugger to build their fledgling team around.

Along with the 1998 Topps flagship release, factory sets with a foil stamp celebrating the inaugural season for the Devil Rays and Diamondbacks were also released, similar to the 1993 Topps Marlins and Rockies sets. There were 5,000 of each set produced, and the Devil Rays card of McGriff is a worthy selection to represent his time in Tampa.

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Joel Reuter

Joel is a National MLB Columnist at Bleacher Report who has spent the last decade as a full-time MLB writer. A lifelong Cubs fan and Chicago resident, nostalgia drives his card-collecting focus. He is currently working on assembling the entire base catalogs of four of his all-time favorites—Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee.

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