FRED McGRIFF (USA Today Sports/Dyer)

The Crime Dog, Fred McGriff, is becoming a Washington State Cougar

STOP THE PRESSES. Fred McGriff, the legendary Crime Dog who hit more home runs than all but 27 people in Major League history, is a Washington State Cougar.

It won’t be officially unofficial until June 12 and 13, when Drew Bledsoe convenes the annual Cougar Legends Golf Tournament at Suncadia Resorts in Cle Elum. But right there on the official roster of celebrity participants — next to the likes of Marcus Trufant, Mark Rypien, John Olerud, Mike Leach, et. al. — reads the name Fred McGriff with the words “honorary legend” alongside.

The question was put to another icon, event organizer Jason Gesser: Is this the same Fred McGriff of All-Star and World Series fame?

Or are we talking the namesake great-grand nephew of a forgotten Washington State lineman who blew open holes for Basil Doane and the boys back in the Dietz Years?

“The Crime Dog himself,” assures Gesser.

You can almost hear Chris Berman’s voice in that sentence.

Since Fred went straight to pro ball from Thomas Jefferson High in Tampa, Fla., he’s eligible for the college taking, right?

“Absolutely,” laughs Gesser. “After the event, yes, we can claim him!”

That’s about 35 years too late for Bobo Brayton. But still. How often do you get to put a guy in crimson who won a home run title in both the American and National leagues and has more career round-trippers than Stan Musial, Willie Stargell, Carl Yastrzemski, Duke Snider and Cal Ripken?

And he's tied with Lou Gehrig.

All those guys are in the Hall of Fame, by the way, and the Crime Dog isn’t. But don’t get me started.

So the question begs: How did the former Blue Jays, Padres, Braves and Rays star line up to become an honorary Coug?

Gesser explains that he and McGriff have become friends over recent years playing in Joey Harrington's annual charity golf tournament. Coupled with the fact WSU decided last year to invite one celebrity outside the family to the event each year, McGriff and WSU made perfect sense.

"Mark Hendrickson told me, 'you have to get him' ... Fred is flying all the way out here from his home in Florida to be part of the Cougar Legends," Gesser said. "He's just a great guy."

Last year's honorary Coug Legend was former NHL star Brett Hull

"We're doing a little friend-raising with interesting people who help make the Legends event even more memorable for those who attend," Gesser said.

"We've had to expand the field each year -- this is an event that is growing. But to keep it personal we're capping it this year at 26 teams of four -- and we're sold out. This is becoming an event you circle on the calendar."

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