By the time Shawn Green retired from baseball in 2008, he walked among the league greats. In 2007, he was one of just four active players with at least 300 home runs, 1,000 runs and RBIs, 400 doubles, a .280 average, and 150 stolen bases. The other names? Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., and Gary Sheffield. But when Green first appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot, he received a confusing two votes. The result eliminated him from ever appearing on the ballot again.
"I look back at my career and think in some ways, I was overrated," Green said on the "New York Accent" podcast. "In other ways, I was underrated -- I had a stretch of five years in the middle that were really, really good. The other years were kind of solid but nothing too special. I guess it depends what window of my career you look at but I'm definitely happy with the way things turned out."
Green's career numbers were always overshadowed by the video game stats others players produced, and no season captured this better than 2001. That year, Green swatted 49 homers, one of his three campaigns with 40-plus. Yet, his mark was only good enough to tie for sixth-most in the majors. The turn of the century was the peak of baseball's Steroid Era. Bonds hit 73 homers back in 2001, setting the single-season record. Sammy Sosa smacked 64 and Alex Rodriguez hit 52. Due to PED's, all three stars have been kept out of the Hall.
Statistics from the Steroid Era were eye-popping. Green's mark of 49 homers would've been enough to win the National League race each year from 2008-16. But in 15 big league seasons, he only made two All-Star teams, and Green says he's never considered himself as one of baseball's greats.
"I was very proud to have a well-rounded game, and that's kind of what I tried to do," Green said. "Those guys are legends of the game. Griffey's a guy that I looked up to when I was in the minor leagues. He was just kind of coming up at that point. Barry Bonds, I feel, is the best offensive player in the history of the game.
"And Sheffield was a teammate who was probably one of the most dangerous right-handed hitters most teams would say they didn't want to see up in a key situation. I think a lot of people would be really surprised to know I'm in such an incredible select company. Those are some legends of the game -- Griffey and Barry Bonds."
Green is now a tech entrepreneur, having founded Greenfly -- a company that helps connect baseball players and fans though social media. He's celebrated as one of the best Jewish players of all-time, and he also made national news when he, much like legend Sandy Koufax, decided to sit out on Yom Kippur.
"So the first year was 2001 [against San Francisco]," Green says. "It was right after 9/11. It was a hard decision for me because we were a couple of games behind the Giants and that was our big rival. And I was playing really well. So, it was kind of a big deal offensively to lose my bat. But it wasn't a big deal [in the public's eye] because I think 9/11 was still in everybody's mind.
"Fast forward to '04, it became a real big story where they were talking about it on daytime talk shows and radio shows about religion in the workplace and missing work. I was surprised because there was so little attention three years earlier, but I guess without the 9/11 [backdrop] then it became a story.
"So, fast forward again to '07 in New York, I did the same thing. Everyone was very supportive. All of my teammates were supportive. Especially in New York, the Mets have such a strong Jewish fanbase, that there was nothing negative said. I'm sure there's people who had their opinions, but everyone was pretty supportive."
Green was a member of many competitive teams, but the closest he ever got to winning a World Series was in 2006, when the Mets dropped NLCS Game 7 against the Cardinals. Green has no regrets, however, and he's happy with his baseball career and work running Greenfly. Not many people can step outside themselves enough to say they're both underrated and overrated. But Green has never been ordinary.
You can listen to and watch the entire conversation of Green on "New York Accent" everywhere you get your podcasts, and on YouTube.