UPDATE: January 9th 2012.
Once again the votes are in and Dale Murphy is near the bottom of the ballot in votes. This is pretty mind boggling to me, however I've become resigned to the fact, over the years, that he will not be elected. I suppose there's always the Veteran's Committee, but I'm not holding my breath for that.
The interesting thing is that once again his vote totals have gone up. This year he garnered 14% of the vote up from recent years. Unfortunately he only has another year on the ballot. Next year will be his final year of eligibility, so unless a miracle happens and he gets elected with 75% of the vote next year ( highly unlikely) then he will fall off the ballot permanently.
Look, I've said about everything I CAN say on this topic. I used to call in to the Ben Maller radio show on Fox Sports Radio and champion the cause, so much that many people who listened to the show felt it was a schtick that I would engage in, to rile up the host (a Dodger fan). However I've always maintained that I was completely sold on what I was saying. This isn't a joke or schtick to me. I genuinely believe that Murphy deserves to get in when all factors are weighed.
Anyway, that's the current status of Murphy's eligibility. I would like to send out congratulations to former Cincinnati Red Barry Larkin, who was the sole inductee this year. Hats off to you, sir.
I'll leave you with a quick blurb from Jayson Stark's new ESPN column where he lists who he voted for and why. Every year (with the eception of a couple of years where there were just so many people he wanted to select, but could only select 10) he has voted for Murphy.
Murphy, I understand, is a tougher case. If you want to argue his period of dominance didn't last long enough, I get where you're coming from. But when I look at Murphy, I see a guy who spent at least five years in the who's-the-best-player-in-the-whole-darned-National-League conversation.
I also see a player who led all National Leaguers in runs and hits in the '80s, tied Mike Schmidt for the most RBIs and finished second to Schmidt in homers. Murphy was a back-to-back MVP. He won five straight Gold Gloves. He was a 30-homer, 30-steal man. He once led the continent in All-Star votes. And if there was a way to factor character and integrity points into WAR, he might be the all-time leader.
So he got my vote. And I felt great about casting it.
UPDATE: January 6th 2010.
The votes are in, and while Dale Murphy did not get elected to the Hall of Fame, which was predictable, he did NOT fall off the ballot, having garnered 62 votes and 11.7% of the votes. This further goes to show that the Hall of Fame voters are clueless. When you have hapless and clueless people like Jay Mariotti voting for the Hall of Fame (or rather NOT voting for the Hall of Fame) then you're going to be at the mercy of people who perhaps think they know Baseball more than they do.
How do we fix this? I dunno. Maybe have managers and players alone voting for it? Perhaps have it where you have to have been retired from the game for at least ten years to be able to vote, and you can't vote for yourself or a team mate? I would trust people who played with Murphy to be a good judge of his career, than some idiot sports writer who's too self absorbed to even fill his ballot out.
Feel free to leave a comment and suggest how you would change the Hall of Fame voting, if at all. Even if you don't agree with me, that Murphy deserves to be inducted.
My congratulations go out to Andre Dawson who was the sole inductee this year. Way to go Andre. Much deserved!
Growing up in Virginia I loved watching my beloved Atlanta Braves play. Seeing as how TBS, then owned by Ted Turner who also owned the Atlanta Braves, aired nearly all their games on TV, it was very easy for me to see them. I grew up loving the 1980's era team filled with players like Bob Horner, Glenn Hubbard, Steve Bedrosian, Pascual Perez, Brett Butler, Claudell Washington and my personal favorite player, Dale Murphy.
I remember in 1983 I got to go see them play in Atlanta when they took on the hated New York Mets. I don't remember much from the game, but I remember a few things. First, I got to have ice cream in a mini-helmet. That was just the epitome of cool, at my tender age of eight years old. Second, I remember somewhere along that trip I met Chief Knockahoma which was one of the highlights of my day. And third, I remember my favorite player, Dale Murphy, popping up to third base to end the game, which was won by the hated New York Mets 3-2.
Fulton County Stadium, which is no longer around, was such a beautiful stadium. I was seriously upset when they tore it down to build a more updated stadium. I understood it, but still didn't like it. Too many of our national ballparks have gone the way of the dinosaur, either the entire place being torn down, or corporate names slapped onto them replacing what we always knew them as.
Unfortunately that's not the way it went down. In the 16 years since he retired, Murphy hasn't come close to getting elected. In order to get elected you need 75% of the vote, and last year (2008) he only got just over 11%. He's never gotten more than 23.2% of the votes.
How can this be? The man is a back to back MVP, one of only two players in HISTORY to have back to back MVPs and not be in the Hall of Fame (Roger Maris is the other). A big knock against him is that he only had 398 home runs and a lifetime average of .265. Also many people want to label him as only being REALLY good for a span of four or five years during the 80's. He never won a championship and was only on ONE playoff team (1982).
However, if we kept out all the players who never won a World Series title, there would be numerous players who wouldn't be in.
And those who like to say that he was only good for a handful of years are missing the big picture.
In the entire decade of the 80's only one man hit more home runs than Murphy (Mike Schmidt). He tied for the most RBI's hit ALL DECADE, and he got more hits and scored more runs than anyone in Major League Baseball over those ten years.
He was a seven time all star (five time starter), he won five straight gold glove awards, won the home run title two years in a row, won the Batting title twice, and was named NL Player of the month 6 times in his career.
When he had retired he was ranked #27 all time in Home runs and 4th among active players. In 1983 he was only the fourth NL player in history to reach the 30/30 club. That year he also joined Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as the only players in HISTORY to hit 30 home runs, steal 30 bases and hit .300 in the same season.
And while, yes, his home run total (398) and average (.265) were not the stuff that legends are made of, there are many people in the Hall of Fame that have stats that are not as good.
Ozzie Smith, no doubt a great player and deservedly in the Hall of Fame, had a lower average (.262) and only 28 career home runs.
Ryne Sandberg had a slightly better average (.285) but had only 282 home runs.
Cal Ripken Jr. only had 33 more home runs than Dale Murphy, and his career batting average was only .006 higher, at .271.
All three are in the Hall of Fame, based not just on offensive numbers, but also defensive numbers and what they meant to the game of Baseball.
So why is Dale Murphy not held to those exact same standards?
Here was a guy who won five straight gold glove awards at a position (Center Field) that was not his original position. He started out as catcher, then moved to 1st base and then to the outfield.
Here's a guy who was equal to or BETTER than Ryne Sandberg, Cal Ripken Jr. and Ozzie Smith in the categories that are used AGAINST Murphy, and yet they are in (and rightfully so) and Murphy will likely never get in (Shamefully so).
But hey, who am I? I'm just a Braves fan. Of course I'm biased, right? Well listen to what some of his peers thought. And for the sake of fairness, I'm not going to include any Braves associated people.
"If you can't be impressed by Murph, you can't be impressed. What really impresses me is how he started out as a catcher a few years back and ends up in center field with a Gold Glove. You've got to appreciate that kind of talent."
"I can't imagine Joe DiMaggio was a better all-around player than Dale Murphy."
"These days, anytime one of my pitchers keeps Murphy in the ballpark, I pat 'em on the fanny."
"There's no doubt he's a great hitter who will get his home runs and RBIs, but the best thing about him is he also plays a great center field. In this age of specialization, when you get some guys who can steal, some who can hit, and some who can field, it's nice to see a guy who can play all the facets."
"I don't challenge Murphy, even if he's 0 for 20. Not him, not ever."
In the coming years you're going to see many players coming up for eligibility who have been tainted with the steroid stigma. Mark McGwire is up this year. Others coming up in the future will be Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, Raphael Palmerio, Barry Bonds and more.
And many of them will probably be voted in, while not on the first try, eventually. Which will be a sad state of affairs when someone like Dale Murphy who played 100% legit, has always lived his life according to the best interest of Baseball and his own moral code won't.
Dale Murphy even set up a foundation called "I Won't Cheat" in which he tries to keep high school and college kids from getting involved in steroids, before they even get to the minor leagues.
This is a guy who's not worthy of being in the Hall of Fame? This is a guy, who in the entire decade of the 80's was one of the most dominant and just flat out scary people to face, hitting the second most home runs and the most hits and runs in all of baseball isn't good enough?
If Dale Murphy isn't good enough for the Hall of Fame, what's the point of having a Hall of Fame? Enough with this nonsense of "he belongs in the Hall of Very Very Good".
This year will more than likely be his final year on the ballot, because if he drops below 5% then he's off the ballot and won't be elected unless the Veterans Committee decides to do the right thing and sack up and put him in.
I have to say, that with all of Baseball's faults, and all of it's bad press and publicity they've gotten over the steroid scandal and they're own foot dragging over the mess, what could be a better way to take a step in the right direction, than by recognizing one of the all time greats, not just at the game of baseball, but one of the all time great people, and the all time great ambassadors of the game and representatives of the game.
Someone that played the game the right way, didn't cheat, and never had a whiff of controversy around him.
As I said, if Dale Murphy isn't Hall of Fame worthy....who is? And if not, what's the point of having it? Just elect the players you liked, and call it a day. But don't call it a Hall of Fame, because without Dale Murphy in there, it's not.