Spring Season

Posted: March 3, 2005 in Everything

Now that my mother-in-law has braved breast cancer surgery and survived with flying colors, it’s time to get down to business: baseball!

All Major league teams have reported to either Florida or Arizona for spring training. You baseball fans out there will agree with me that the excitement is starting to build as you hear daily reports from your team. But before we get too head-over-heels in love with the coming season, we need to take a look at the past.

Yesterday, the Major League Baseball Players Veteran’s Committee vote ZERO players into the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Can you believe this? There are three players who have won multiple “Most Valuable Player” awards in the history of baseball who are NOT in the Hall of Fame: Pete Rose, Roger Maris, and Dale Murphy. Rose isn’t eligible because he was a cheater. But Maris’ single season home run record (*61) stood for over three decades and the guys who broke it were juiced on steroids when they did it. Dale Murphy–as I wrote in this space over a year ago–is still not been allowed access to the Hall, and it is a great injustice.

Just check out the numbers:
18 Seasons
.265 Career Batting Average
398 Career Home Runs
2111 Hits
1266 Runs Batted In
.273 Career Post-Season Average
1982 and 1983 National League Most Valuable Player

But the numbers aren’t the whole story. The Hall of Fame is about what players do on the field for sure, but it is also about the players’ impact on society and the game. The truth is that if Dale Murphy were allowed into the Hall of Fame, he would have some of the less impressive numbers of the group. It’s true that other players with similar numbers like Ron Santo and Joe Carter aren’t in the Hall either.

But the numbers don’t consider the effect.

I remember a second grader in 1982 who loved playing and watching baseball because he wanted to be just like Dale Murphy. He wore his socks like him, and wanted to wear his number (3). He tried to imitate his swing and his jog from the dugout to the field. That same boy was so excited on a family trip to Atlanta that he made his parents drive him to Fulton County Stadium two hours before the game so he could see Dale Murphy take batting practice. When that family moved to Atlanta, the boy asked his parents to stop taking him to Braves’ games because every time they went the Braves would lose–and he didn’t want that for Dale. When that second grader was in 9th grade, he cried when the Braves traded Dale Murphy to Philadelphia–he just couldn’t imagine Murphy in another uniform. And that second grader turned 9th grader turned college freshman couldn’t quite understand why the Colorado Rockies would release Dale Murphy in 1993.

Most people won’t believe this, but in the life of Dale Murphy, one little boy learned about life. He learned that you can hit a lot of home runs, but because you’re a home run hitter it also means that you’ll strike out a lot too. Either way you’re still the best hope for your team. He learned that if you work hard and play by the rules the game will reward you–but nothing last forever. He learned that humility is an under-appreciated virtue, but a desperately needed one. Most importantly, he learned that in life you should swing for the fences in order to bring people home.

So, if you know anyone who has voting priviledges for the Hall of Fame, tell them to do Dale, me and the world a favor: Put Murphy in the Hall!

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