September 24, 2008

The Tao of Fred McGriff - Day 8

From Fred McGriff's entry on

"In 2000, the production company Rocco's Jobbers produced a pilot for a television series based loosely on McGriff and the "Crime Dog" nickname. The concept of the series revolved around a professional baseball player who moonlighted as a crime-fighting vigilante named "The Crime Dog". The project was a major creative and financial disaster, failing to get picked up by any networks. It is believed that McGriff himself has the only surviving copy of the pilot episode, which was given to him by his friend and former teammate, David Wells. On casting sheets used to promote the project, the comedy-action series was described as "Major League meets Blade", referencing two successful movie franchises. Kirk Jones, who played the titular character in Blade: The Series in 2005, was cast as The Crime Dog in the pilot.

McGriff has appeared in commercials for Tom Emanski Baseball Training videos on ESPN since 1991, which are still aired to this day on the network (one of television's longest running commercials ever). Because of the frequency and longevity of the Emanski commercials, ESPN analyst Kenny Mayne coined a second, less used nickname for McGriff, "Baseball Superstar", as he was referenced in the commercials as "Baseball Superstar Fred McGriff."

That's a lot to digest, but one thing's for certain: my admiration of the man just grew ten-fold. Like every other sports fan trawling late-night ESPN for west coast scores, I was aware of the Emanski commercials where McGriff walks stiffly across the diamond while juvenile automatons field an endless series of soul-crushing grounders.

I was not, however, aware of the failed pilot. I need to see that show. Should I make it my goal to a) get McGriff to acknowledge the existence of The Baseball Card Blog and b) get him to send me a copy of the tape?

Um, yes. Definitely.

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