I never saw Fred McGriff play in person. And yet, here he is in Fenway Park circa 1989-1990. A friend of mine used to have tickets about 20 rows behind home plate and I remember going to a number of games around that time.
Nor did I ever really watch games that McGriff played in. My family, like everybody else who got cable, got all the Braves games on TBS. But that didn't mean I watched them. So then here's my question: Can I legitimately call McGriff my favorite player if I a) never saw him play in person and b) never made much of an effort to catch his games on TV? I think I'm safe.
McGriff fit what I was looking for in a baseball hero. To me, he was obscure. And if you know anything about my values system, obscurity ranks very high. Oh sure, he wasn't a face in the crowd to fans of the game. But ask a random person on the street who McGriff was and I'd bet nine out of ten wouldn't know. And yet, here's the funny thing: if McGriff had spent his career in a baseball mecca like Boston or New York, I'm completely convinced that his national presence would've rivaled that of Boggs, Mattingly or any other of his more famous contemporaries.