Murphy a long shot in final year on Hall ballot
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
There will be a sense of celebration and excitement among Braves fans when the 2014 Hall of Fame class is announced. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz could all be among the inductees.
But there will also likely be a sense of sadness among fans when the 2013 Hall of Fame class is announced without the inclusion of Dale Murphy.
One of the most beloved figures in Braves history, Murphy gained national fame while proving to be one of the game’s most productive players during the 1980s. As he won consecutive National League MVP Awards and multiple Gold Glove Awards, he seemed to be constructing a Hall of Fame career.
But to the chagrin of many Braves fans, Murphy is a long shot be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. This year marks the 15th and final year that he will be on the Hall of Fame ballot.
“I just wish he would have had a couple more good years,” longtime Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren said. “I would have liked to have seen him finish a little better and get to 400 home runs. That might have been enough.”
There may have been a short period during the ’80s when Murphy seemed to be a cinch for future Hall of Fame induction. But since being placed on the ballot in 1999, he’s never received more than 24 percent of the votes.
Murphy was included on 14.5 percent of the ballots cast last year. That’s 1.9 percentage points higher than he drew the previous year. There is a chance that he could see yet another increase from voters who choose to give him a tip of the cap during his final year on the ballot.
But barring a miraculous turn of events, this increase will still leave Murphy far short of the 75 percent vote total players must receive to gain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Shortstop Barry Larkin (86.4 percent) earned his ticket to Cooperstown on the 2012 ballot. Starting pitcher Jack Morris (66.7 percent) and first baseman Jeff Bagwell (56 percent) are the top returning vote-getters from last year’s ballot. Results of the 2013 election will be announced on Jan. 9.
“Dale produced great numbers and he won two MVP Awards,” Cox said. “He went from catcher to first base to left field to center field and became a Gold Glove winner. Also, you can’t forget his charitable work. He’s first class, and that has to count for something.”
Schuerholz, who currently serves as the Braves’ president, campaigned last year for Murphy by sending a letter to Hall of Fame voters and other members of the BBWAA.
“The Atlanta Braves organization is extremely proud of Dale’s outstanding accomplishments during an extraordinary 18-year Major League career, 15 of which were spent with the Braves,” Schuerholz said in the letter.
“Not only on the field, but off the field as well, Dale represented himself and the city of Atlanta with the class and professionalism consistent with the ideals of Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Even today, he continues to be one of our game’s greatest ambassadors.”
Murphy won back-to-back NL MVP Awards in 1982 and ’83, and he stood as just one of six players during the 1980s to record 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season (’83). He won five Gold Glove Awards, four Silver Slugger Awards and earned seven All-Star selections.
Murphy’s supporters have continued to point out that he led all Major League outfielders during the 1980s in home runs (308) and RBIs (929). He ranked second among outfielders during this span in hits (1,553) and extra-base hits (596).
Murphy compiled more total bases than anybody during the ’80s. Over that 10-year span, Mike Schmidt was the only player with more homers, and Eddie Murray was the only player with more RBIs. Schmidt and Murray have both been enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
“Other than a couple seasons there, he played for a team that a was a second-division team,” Van Wieren said. “He was obviously the star and such a humble guy. When you talked to him about something he had done, he’d always point out what some other player did. There were times that he carried that team for two or three weeks at a time.”
Murphy’s candidacy has seemingly been hindered by his .265 lifetime batting average, which was damaged during some unproductive years late in his career. He hit .289 from 1982-87, but batted just .238 from 1988 until the end of his career in ’93.
After playing for the Braves from 1976-90, Murphy concluded his career by playing with the Phillies (1990-92) and the Rockies (’93).