My Annual Dale Murphy Rant

Each year after the Hall of Fame inductees are announced I sit and ponder the vote and wonder once again why Dale Murphy does not garner more support than he does. I should probably begin by saying I am not a Dale Murphy groupie nor have I ever met the man in person.

Growing up like many other kids one of the few “national” cable stations that we received was the Turner Broadcast System’s channel from Atlanta. What this meant was that we were able to watch more Atlanta Braves baseball games than any other team in the country.

As a result, I became more familiar with the Braves players than I did any other team well with the exception of the Chicago Cubs whom I idolized and followed almost religiously. Come to think about it, my being a Cubs fan probably explains why I am so maladjusted but that is a subject best left to professional therapists.

The benefit of watching the Atlanta Braves was that it gave me a great opportunity to see several young players reach the major leagues and flourish. One of those players happened to be Dale Murphy.

Murphy was a first round draft pick by the Braves in 1974. He was a talented player and flew through the Atlanta minor league system and reached the majors in 1976 at the age 20. He was a late season call-up and played in 19 games as a catcher.

Murphy would begin the 1977 season back in the minor leagues but again earned a call-up appearing in 18 games. As a catcher Murphy was adequate but he developed a mental block of throwing back to the pitcher. It got so bad that it looked as though his career would be over.

The Braves loved his offense and made the decision to move Murphy to first base where he played the 1978 season. That was a breakout year for him. He hit only .226 but belted 23 home runs and 57 RBIs while stealing 11 bases.

The following year Murphy moved from the infield to the outfield and became a dominate player. From 1980 through 1987 Dale Murphy was arguably the most dominating player in baseball.

He was elected to seven all-star games and was named league MVP in back-to-back seasons. During this span he was described not just as a lock for the Hall of Fame but was compared to the game’s greatest players.

Besides his on-field success, Murphy was a model ball player off the field. He worked with several charities in the Atlanta area and won the Lou Gerig Memorial award and the Roberto Clemente award for outstanding citizens. He was the poster child for cleanliness and his reputation was impeccable.

In his career Murphy had 12 20-Home Run seasons, six 30-Home Run seasons and in 1987 he hit 44 Home Runs and drove in 105 runs. From the ages of 22 through 31 he was one of the most feared players in baseball.

Teams did not want to face Murphy at the plate and his defense was just as impressive. He earned a Gold Glove in five consecutive years. Murphy was one of those players who changed the way teams approached their opponents.

Unfortunately, when Murphy reached is mid-thirties his production dropped off. For whatever reason he began his decline. Rather than walking away from the game he loved, Murphy continued to play which when looking at the statistics shows a strong decline.

These latter years tarnished an otherwise incredible career. As a result, the baseball writers look only at the statistics and fail to account for the dominance Murphy exhibited in the first eleven years of his career. They have completely discounted the character aspect and instead view Murphy as a good player undeserving of induction to Cooperstown.

In his first year of candidacy Murphy received 19 percent of the votes. The second year that number raised to 23 percent and it looked as though Murphy would continue to gain support until he would finally be inducted.

That upward trend did not continue though. Subsequent years would see Murphy’s vote total decline. In this year’s voting; his total dropped to just 11.7 percent which was up 0.2 percent from 2009.

It is disappointing that a player of such high character with a stretch of dominating seasons would be so egregiously overlooked. In this era of baseball players all falling under the suspicion of performance enhancing drugs, Dale Murphy is the poster child for a ball player who was among the best in the game for over a decade and did so with his own talent.

Were I to have a vote for the Hall of Fame, it would definitely include Dale Bryan Murphy of the Atlanta Braves the best player to play the game in the 1980s.


3 Comments

  1. If he had 3 more homers he’d be in there…

    • You’re probably right. It just seems like such a travesty that three home runs would make such a difference to an otherwise great career. As the years go by I’m becoming much more disillusioned with the BBWAA voting model.

  2. I can’t agree more. I thought in order to get into the Hall of Fame a player needed to be a dominate player during the era he played. Murphy was one of the top two players in the National League for years. (Mike Schmidt was the other) How can a player who dominated his era not be in the Hall? Seven All Star appearances and back to back Mvp’s along with Gold Gloves. It’s a joke that Murphy is not already in the Hall. He was one of the greatest players of the 80’s and should be a lock. It is a shame that Murphy is not in the Hall.

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