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Dale Murphy

Dale Murphy

Position(s):
C, 1B, CF, LF, OF, RF
Nicknames:
The Murph
Born:
March 12, 1956
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 4"
Weight:
210 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-13-1976 with ATL
Allstar Selections:
1982 GG, 1982 MVP, 1982 SS, 1983 GG, 1983 MVP, 1983 SS, 1984 GG, 1984 SS, 1985 GG, 1985 LG, 1985 SS, 1986 GG, 1988 RC

 

Selected in the first round of the 1974 June draft by the Atlanta Braves, Murphy turned down a scholarship to Arizona State where he would have teamed up with Bob Horner. He began his career as a catcher, but had chronic throwing problems, occasionally hitting his own pitcher attempting to throw out runners at 2nd base. 

The Braves then tried him as a first baseman, where in 129 games Murphy led the league in errors (23 in 1978). His career was in serious Jeopardy, until Bobby Cox took a chance and tried him in the outfield in 1980. The move proved to be genius. 

In a six-year stretch (1982-1987) he led baseball in homers (218), and total bases while also ranking in the top three in runs, hits, RBI, and slugging. During that same period he won five Gold Gloves and stole 105 bases at a 73% success rate. That performance earned him two MVP awards (1982-1983) and established him as one of the best players of the 1980s. 

What did Dale Murphy do between the end of the 1982 season and the announcement five weeks later that he was the National League MVP? He went to the Instructional League to work on his hitting. In 1983 that extra work paid off. Through June Murphy was chasing the Triple Crown. He shared the National League lead in home runs with 19, ranked second in RBIs with 55 and fourth in batting average at .326. His 69 runs put him on course to challenge the league record of 158 set by Chuck Klein in 1930. Of his 19 homers, 15 were hit to center or right field. 

"He's scary," said Reds manager Russ Nixon. "Do they have something above MVP?" 

Through June, Atlanta was 43-29, matching its 1982 pace; the only trouble being that the Dodgers were eight games better. No other team in the majors had a better record, which left the Braves second in both the division and the big leagues. 

Before a home game against San Francisco on June 12, Murphy visited in the stands with Elizabeth Smith, a six-year-old girl who had lost both hands and a leg when she stepped on a live power line. After Murphy gave her a cap and a T shirt, her nurse innocently asked if he could hit a home run for Elizabeth. "I didn't know what to say, so I just sort of mumbled 'Well, O.K.,' " says Murphy. That day he hit two homers and drove in all the Braves' runs in a 3-2 victory. 

Murphy is of the Mormon faith, and set high standards of behavior for himself. He refused television interviews unless fully dressed, and also refused to allow female fans to put their arms around him for photos. He would only endorse wholesome products such a milk. 

Murphy's moral views sometimes got him some heat from feminist groups, such as when he refused to talk to women in the locker room. In fact he refused to talk to anyone in the locker room if a woman was present. In Murphy's defense however he went out of his way to talk to female reporters outside the locker room. 

Murphy often would pick up his teammates dinner checks, but would not buy their beer on moral grounds. The right-handed slugger is considered one of the nicest, most even tempered men ever to play Major League baseball. He almost never showed his anger on the field or off. He did once let his anger get the best of him on the field - in 1984. 

"Murphy came up against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He faced Ken Howell in the bottom of the ninth with the tying run on third. He struck out for the the 100th time that season. To celebrate he drop-kicked the dugout water cooler. Smoked it too," recalls Glenn Hubbard "ice went everywhere". The players in the dugout were frozen, mouths agape." 

Murphy attended Portland Community College and Brigham Young University (1979) where he met his future wife Nancy, whom he married on October 27, 1979. Their children: Chad (7/80), Travis (10/81), Shawn (12/82), Tyson (12/85), Taylor (8/87), Jacob (9/89), McKay (9/91), and daughter Madison (10/93). Murphy is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

 

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