Murphy fit for Hall of Fame

The Baseball Writers of America announced the results of the annual Hall of Fame balloting on Tuesday. Just one new member, albeit a long-overdue and deserving one in Rich "Goose" Gossage, will be making the trip to Cooperstown for enshrinement in July. While Gossage got in on his ninth try, former Atlanta outfielder Dale Murphy is still waiting on his call.

Few players embody the wholesome ideals that many still prefer from their favorite athletes. Humble and soft-spoken, uber-talented in his prime and never caught in the tabloid pages or police blotters. In retirement, he has even taken the initiative to champion the cause of keeping young athletes away from choosing to use/abuse steroids.

No, it doesn’t get much classier than Murph. He became, perhaps, the most popular player in the game by the mid-80s and already had racked up two MVP awards by the age of 27. The list goes on, five gold glove awards as an outfielder – his third position in the major leagues. Murphy debuted as a catcher in two brief trial during the 1976 and ’77 seasons, switched primarily to first base in 1978 before settling into the outfield in 1980.

There’s a theory here that I am hoping will come to practice sooner than later. That being that through the turbulent "Steroid-Era" controversy, players of past generations – particularly stars of the 80s – will get a new look as being Hall-worthy.

Murphy, Jim Rice, Andre Dawson and Dave Parker join already enshrined sluggers Mike Schmidt and Eddie Murray to represent the most potent bats from 1976 -1990. You can lump a few others names in there, but those six players are at the top of the charts offensively. The best part about the production you see on the back of these player’s cards in that the numbers are all-natural.

Keeping the focus on Murphy, there are some detractors to his career. The quick decline is the one that draws the most critique. Murphy played in an era when 400 homers would generally mean enshrinement (the only notable exception being feast-or-famine slugger Dave Kingman). Had there not been a work stoppage in 1981, Murphy would likely not be sitting on 398 career homers. Of course, it doesn’t work that way but you don’t need a vivid imagination to put Murphy among the most feared sluggers of his day.

His .265 career batting average and nearly 1,800 punch-outs aren’t exactly the bright spots of his HOF resume, but there are people with more K’s and lower averages. I think, for all that is going on now, Murphy should be elevated by the fact that he has been and continues to be a class act. Dale Murphy is good for the game.

Till Next time,

G-Mc

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