March 5, 2011; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves former player Dale Murphy watches during a spring training exhibition game against the New York Mets at Disney Wide World of Sports complex. Image Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Dugout Dirt: Dale Murphy and the Hall of Fame

In what is a crucial year for the Hall of Fame ballot in baseball, it is also Dale Murphy’s final year on the ballot.

Many baseball fans know that if players can stay on the ballot for up to 15 years once their name first appears. Dale Murphy’s name appears on the ballot for the 15th time this year. No matter what happens come January when the announcement is made, it will be Murphy’s final year and that’s a shame.

A shame because Murphy should have been inducted years ago. Rob Neyer looked at Murphy in 2009. Neyer looked at the years 1982-87, where Murphy ranks 1st in home runs, 2nd in games played, 2nd in runs, 3rd in RBI, and 1st in runs created. This is all over a period of 6 seasons. Not to mention the 5 gold gloves that Murphy won for his defense in the outfield or the 2 MVP awards that he won in back to back seasons.

Braves beat writer David O’Brien makes the case in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Even Dale’s daughter, Madison, makes the case for her father.

“I’ve voted for Dale Murphy every year,” longtime Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports columnist Jeff Schultz told me.

Murphy’s son, Taylor, started a petition recently titled Dale Murphy and the Hall of Fame: BBWAA Needs to Observe and Honor Their Own Voting Guidelines.

What made him create the petition?

“I’ve always felt Dale Murphy belongs in the Hall of Fame,” Taylor Murphy said. “Not because he’s my Dad. But because he was the greatest player in the 80’s and is the greatest person I’ve ever been around. Since it’s such a crucial year for HOF voting, with Bonds and some other ‘roiders’ being voted on for the first time, voters (writers) needed to be aware of the criteria it takes to be a Hall of Famer. So I started the petition. Dale Murphy is everything that is good about baseball. He fulfills all the criteria, and it’s time the writers honored him by voting him into the Hall of Fame.”

What has the reaction been like?

“The reaction has been great,” said Taylor. “Fans have come out in the thousands to support. The writers have been supportive for the most part, too. Some are sharing the petition with their followers, some are not. It’s been left up to the writers to decide how our (baseball fan’s) Hall of Fame will look like. We can only hope that they do so in a manner that represents the game of baseball in a positive way.”

Earlier this week, I spoke with the former Braves outfielder.

“It just kind of blew me away,” Dale said over the phone.

Murphy has 5 Gold Gloves for his defensive work in the outfield. Are those stats being ignored by the voters and not being weighed equally with offensive stats?

“Offensive stats verses defensive stats? Well, yeah, I don’t really know. I would agree with you. I don’t think defensive stats are looked at that much. You’d have to ask the voters. It tends to go that way. I guess that’s a natural thing. It’s changing to a certain extent but I think it ought to be a consideration. I would agree with you. I don’t know how much of a consideration but with the advent of new ways of looking at defensive things, that it’s an added dimension. I would agree with you in that it’s heavily weighted toward offensive.”

Taylor Murphy also commented on the Gold Gloves when I interviewed him for this column.

“In sports, it’s always been strange to me how overlooked defense is,” Taylor said. The old adage ‘Defense wins championships’ could not be more true. My dad’s gold gloves have definitely been overlooked, and it’s a shame.”

Murphy’s other son, Chad, sent an open letter to the voters of the BBWAA. Chad’s letter stressed the voting section of the Hall of Fame criteria:

Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Chad’s letter also looks at the accomplishments, which I feel make a stronger case than the stats briefly mentioned in the Neyer column from 2009. Here are just a few of them:

* Back-to-back NL MVP 1982, 1983 (1 of only 12 players—and the youngest in history at that time—to accomplish this)
* 7-time NL All-Star (top NL vote-getter in 1985 and a starter in 5 of those games)
* 4-time Silver Slugger award-winner
* 5-time Gold Glove award-winner
* 6th player in MLB history to reach 30 home runs/30 stolen bases in a single season
* Only player in history to compile a .300+ batting average, 30+ home runs, 120+ runs batted in, 130+ runs scored, 90+ bases on balls, and 30+ stolen bases in a single season, 1983 (Jeff Bagwell, 1999)
* Led MLB in total bases during the span of 1980-1989 (2,796)
* 2nd (only to HOFer Mike Schmidt) in total home runs from 1980-1989 (308)
* 2nd (only to HOFer Eddie Murray) in total runs from 1980-1989
* 1st in total home runs from 1980-1989 among all Major League outfielders (308)
* 1st in total RBIs from 1980-1989 among all Major League outfielders (929)
* 2nd in total hits from 1980-1989 among Major League outfielders (1,553)
* 2nd in total extra-base hits from 1980-1989 among Major League outfielders (596)
* Played in 740 consecutive games from 1980-1986 (11th longest streak in history at the time, and 13th today. Only missed 20 games total between 1980-1989)
* Reached base in 74 consecutive games, 1987 (3rd longest streak in Major League history)
* 398 career home runs (19th in Major League history when he retired, 4th among active players)
* 2111 career hits
* 1266 career RBIs
* .265 career batting average

As for the efforts by his children? “My kids have been just very nice and supportive,” Murphy says. “It’s been wonderful.”

Tags: Atlanta Braves Baseball Hall Of Fame Dale Murphy Mlb

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