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is-dale-murphy-a-hall-of-famer | January | 2008 Articles

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Is Dale Murphy a Hall of Famer?

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If you ask me, yes.  My childhood dog's name was Murphy, so perhaps I'm a little biased.  Regardless, Dale Murphy represents all that is good about the game (and the 80s) and should be rewarded for that.  For me it really is that simple.

However, the last word you can use to describe baseball's Hall of Fame election process is "simple."  Let's start with the vagueness presented to Hall of Fame voters.  They are told to vote based on “the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.”  In other words, they can vote for whomever they wish and the rest of us can go on wondering what they were thinking until the end of time. 

It's futile to try and reason with the voters (which consist of 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America), but I rarely turn down a challenge.  So, here are my top ten reasons why "the Murph" should get that miracle phone call tomorrow informing him that he's been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

10.  He was only the sixth player since 1922 to join the 30-30 club.  (For those not in the know, that's 30 stolen bases and 30 home runs in a single season, which "the Murph" accomplished in 1983.)

9.  He's #45 on the All-Time Home Runs List (398).

8.  In 1984, he led the league in the following categories: Slugging Percentage (.547), Total Bases (332), Extra-Base Hits (76), Home Runs (36).

7.  In 1983, he led the league in the following categories: RBIs (121), OPS (.933), Slugging Percentage (.540) and Runs Created (131).

6.  He is #13 on the all-time consecutive games played list with 740 games played between September 26, 1981 and July 8, 1986. 

5.  He won four consecutive Silver Slugger awards (1982-1985).

4.  He won five consecutive Gold Glove awards (1982-1986). 

3.  He was a seven-time All-Star (1981, 1982-1987).

2.  He had back-to-back MVP seasons in '82 and '83.  At the time, he was only the fourth player in history to have back-to-back MVP awards and was the youngest to ever do so.  The only player since him to have back-to-back MVP awards was Barry Bonds.  Dale Murphy is the only eligible back-to-back MVP aside from Roger Maris to not be inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

1.  He exemplifies the man every professional baseball player should be.  Joe Torre, his former manager, once said about him, "If you're a coach, you want him as a player. If you're a father, you want him as a son. If you're a woman, you want him as a husband. If you're a kid, you want him as a father. What else can you say about the guy?"  Dale Murphy is the last person you'll find tooting his own horn.  Instead, he'll talk about the people who supported and influenced him or how happy he is to be able to use his experience to provide an example for the youth who look up to him.  He won three awards I think he probably values far more than the Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers.  He won the Lou Gehrig award in 1985, which is given to the single player in that season who best exemplifies the integrity and character Gehrig showed both on and off the field.  In 1988, "the Murph" won the Robreto Clemente award, given annually to the single player who represents the commitment to community that Clemente himself represented.  He also won the Bart Giamatti award, which is given to the single player in that season who best exemplifies the compassion demonstrated by the former commissioner.  This was given to "the Murph" for his charitable contributions, which included such things as 10% of his salary going to his church every year.  My favorite was the column he wrote every week for the AJC entitled "Ask Dale Murphy."  In lieu of payment, he had the AJC give a four-year college scholarship to a high school graduate each year.    

Nolan Ryan has been quoted as saying, "I can't imagine Joe DiMaggio was a better all-around player than Dale Murphy."  Nonetheless, the highest percentage of Hall of Fame votes he accumulated was 23.2% of the vote in 2002 – far short of the 75% required to be inducted.  Last year, the Murph got only 9% of the vote. 

If Dale Murphy's only career years were 1982-1987, I'm convinced he'd have been in the Hall of Fame long before now.  Unfortunately, his last six seasons tainted his career stats and are often given as the reason for his being left out of the Hall of Fame. 

Given the current state of affairs in baseball (where the lying is as bad or worse than the steriod use), I think players like Dale Murphy should be celebrated and honored for not only their peak years but also for the way they conducted themselves off the field.  At least half the adjectives used in the criteria given to voters suggests that those entering the Hall of Fame should have made contributions to the game that go beyond the playing field.  Integrity, sportsmanship and character are attributes Dale Murphy not only had, but mastered.  He was known for signing autographs after games until team representatives forced him to stop.  As mentioned previously, he has won the Roberto Clemente, Lou Gehrig and Bart Giamatti awards.  He was Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in 1987.  He was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in 1995.  Can you ask for a better all-around player?  This writer thinks not – unfortunately they don't give me a ballot. To "the Murph" – you'll always be a Hall of Famer to me!
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