I grew up in Atlanta during the days of perpetually bad baseball being played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. We went to several games in those days, and Dale Murphy was one of my favorite players. Two decades later, Murphy has yet to make it into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame after missing the cut for the 13th year in a row. Murphy has two more chances to be voted in over the next few years before his eligibility ends, but his chances of being voted in by the sports writers are now virtually zero.
To be honest, I've never felt that Murphy had much of a chance to be voted that honor. While he was one of the top players of the 1980's, his career numbers don't stack up to players who did make it into the Hall of Fame. He finished with career totals of 398 home runs, 2,111 hits and a batting average of just .265.
Let's compare that to Andrew Dawson, another outfielder whose playing career coincided with Murphy's. Dawson was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, but he was a controversial pick because of his borderline numbers. He finished his career with 438 home runs, 2,774 hits, and a batting average of .279. If Dawson can barely squeeze into the Hall (in his ninth year of eligibility he received 77.9% of votes when 75% was the minimum needed), then Murphy has no shot.
In order for position players to be voted into Cooperstown nowadays, they need to be special. They need stats that will stand the test of time, or they need to have been clearly superior to their peers for an extended period while they were playing. An example today would be Albert Pujols, who will most certainly earn Hall of Fame entry when he is eligible because of his superior statistics as well as being recognized as one of the best players in baseball for the past decade.
Murphy was certainly a popular player throughout the 1980's, but his best years came in the early years of that decade. He won the NL MVP in 1982 and 1983, and even made it into the "30-30" club in 1983 when he hits over 30 home runs and had 30 stolen bases (a rare accomplishment in those days). He led MLB in home runs from 1984-1985, and also led the NL in RBIs from 1982-1983.
Certainly he had a few outstanding years, but the rest of his career doesn't support his candidacy for the Hall of Fame. He only had six years in which he hit more than 30 home runs, and only two seasons in which he batted over .300 (even then his single-season career high was .302 in 1983). There's no doubt he was hot for a few years, but that's not enough to be considered one of the greatest of your era.
Murphy was certainly one of the good guys in baseball during his career, but unfortunately that's not enough to make it to Cooperstown. However, he will always be remembered as one of the most popular players in Atlanta Braves history.
Julie grew up in Atlanta during the years Dale Murphy played and always loved rooting for him.
- Sports & Recreation
- Sports & Recreation/Baseball
- Dale Murphy
- Andrew Dawson