Major League Baseball had its Hall of Fame ceremony recently and as usual, Dale Murphy’s name wasn’t on the list of the latest inductees. Murphy, who played 18 seasons, 15 of those for the Atlanta Braves, joins the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in the long list of “What in the Sam Hill is wrong with the Hall of Fame” snubs.
An urban legend has sprung up over the last 10-15 years that Murphy is “too clean-cut” to be inducted. Some people have said his religious views have unfairly kept him out with people incorrectely commenting it’s because he’s a devout Christian. Well, actually, Murphy is a devout Mormon. And it’s not like he did anything strange on account of his religion. I read he never was interviewed unless he was fully dressed. I mean, I don’t like someone sticking a microphone in my face while I’m trying to get my pants on, either.
Oh, he refused to drink alcoholic drinks as part of his religion. And only offered to pay for other’s meals if they avoided alcohol. So, what? Many atheist/agonistic are teetotalers too. And he refused to be photographed with women embracing him, even though his boy-next-door looks in the 1980s made every woman below the Mason-Dixon line moist. Yes, he was weird because he didn’t drink, didn’t exploit women and felt he should look his best for a TV interview. That’s what’s kept him out of the Hall of Fame? He was bascially what would happen if Chris Evans, Keanu Reeves and Tom Hanks were combined and decided to play baseball instead of act.
Murphy was just a kid when he began playing for the Atlanta Braves in 1976 and spent the next 15 seasons bascially being the face of the franchise even when they were at their worst in the 1980s. I remember those days fondly in the 1980s. Braves baseball was such a disappointment, you could go to the stadium and basically have any choice of where you wanted to sit. My late girlfriend and I joked that we were probably at the same game in the mid-1980s because we were right down near right field when someone was able to grab a foul ball that had been hit on a line drive.
Murphy was the right recipient of the torch being passed when Hank Aaron retired. He was an All-Star seven times in 1980 and then 1982-1987. He was a MVP for the National League in 1982 and 1983 when he was the RBI leader as well. In 1984 and 1985, he was the NL home run leader. He was a darn good player.
Unfortunately, this might have been his problem. He peaked too early in his career. He did so well starting out that his last few years weren’t his best. That’s what they look at. How you held up time after time. And let’s face it, there were some seasons in which the Braves just sucked. Being the stand-out on a team that is doing poorly doesn’t really help your stats, even though they were very good. Was Murphy god because he was a good player when looking at the NL and American League or was he a good player because he stood out because the rest of the Braves weren’t good?
And our human bodies can only do so much. As Murphy settled into his 30s, his health affected his performance. He was batting .295 in 1987. But that went down to .226 in 1988. He would never bat above .250 until 1991 when he had playing for the Philadelphia Phillies at this time. He was traded in August of 1990 when the Braves finished 65-97. The next season in 1991 the Braves went all the way to the World Series…without Murphy.
That has to hurt to see your former team achieve so much without you. The Braves became the first NL team to go from last place to the first in two seasons. Some people commented that Ted Turner, who had owned the Braves, was making the players earn their salaries. The Braves had become “America’s Baseball Team” thanks to Turner showing the games on his cable network TBS. If you’re going to be airing these games on your own channel that is being seen by people all the way from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and all the Springfields, you better have them winning a good majority.
Sometimes, it just helps to change things up. And that the Braves had better seasons after Murphy left makes some feel that the problem might have been management which directly and indirectly affected him. Also, the Braves was the only MLB team in the south during Murphy’s time. Was it just because he was the local boy the way Tom Brady seem to be the only quarterback of a New England football team? Murphy stayed with the Phillies through 1992 before finishing his last season with the Colorado Rockies during their initial season.
So, you go from being the face of a baseball franchise to playing on an expansion team that ended its season with a 67-95 record. That’s like winning an Oscar and/or appearing in many blockbuster movies earlier in your career but only getting the parent or grandparent roles after a while. You can’t appear the lead in anything buy a direct-to-video movie that not even Bruce Willis or Nicolas Cage would make.
Hey, it happens.
Actors sometimes come on strong earlier in their careers and then are reduced to having to work in bad productions for money. Look at Jeremy Irons. He won an Oscar for his role as Claus von Bulow for Reversal of Fortune in 1991 and hasn’t even been nominated for his work since then. It was a good performance that he could never improve on it. Some say Orson Welles made his best movie with Citizen Kane. He didn’t have much success with later movies. Sometimes having to do whatever he could from making movies to finance others. Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960 and never published anything for decades. She knocked a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth of game seven of the World Series with two outs and down by four points with that one. What do you do for an encore?
What sucks is Murphy is such a good guy. He was a good player. He has a great public persona. He even did a viral video showing support for the youth baseball team that both my step-nephew and son of a childhood friend played on. I think the only scandal you’d find is seeing him not use a drink coaster on a table.
So, what is it keeping Murphy and other great names out of the Hall of Fame?
It could be politics. He may just be a regional superstar like I mentioned earlier. There also could be some backlash because TBS showed Braves baseball bascially the way Rob Zombie has to feature his wife, Sherri Moon Zombie, in everything much to everyone’s chagrin. Some might feel that Murphy never rebounded after 1988 and retired too late. I mean, the man’s got a wife and eight children. I can appreciate him wanting to play as long as he’s able to put food on the table. But Murphy doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would ever blow his money on useless expenses.
Some inductees are long overdue who were playing before Murphy was even born. Maybe one day, Murphy, who is 66 now, will get his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. It would be nice to see him get this achievement while he’s alive.
What do you think? Please comment.