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Dale Murphy

Dale Murphy meeting fans at the CNN Center.
Center fielder / Right fielder
Born: March 12, 1956 (1956-03-12) (age 53)
Portland, Oregon
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 13, 1976 for the Atlanta Braves
Last MLB appearance
May 21, 1993 for the Colorado Rockies
Career statistics
Batting average     .265
Home runs     398
Runs batted in     1,266
Career highlights and awards

Dale Bryan Murphy (born March 12, 1956, in Portland, Oregon) is a former outfielder and first baseman in Major League Baseball, most notable for his years with the Atlanta Braves. During his career, Murphy won consecutive National League Most Valuable Player Awards (1982-1983), the National League's Silver Slugger Award four straight years (1982-1985), and the National League's Gold Glove award five straight years (1982-1986).


Playing career

Murphy is regarded by many as one of the premier players during the 1980s. His best years were with the Atlanta Braves, appearing in the All-Star Game seven times, and leading the National League in home runs and RBI twice; he also led the major leagues in home runs and runs batted in over the 10-year span from 1981 to 1990. He led the National League in games, at bats, runs, hits, extra base hits, RBIs, runs created, total bases, and plate appearances in the 1980s. He also accomplished a 30-30 (30 home runs with 30 stolen bases) season in 1983, at the time only the 6th player since 1922 to do so. His 1983 MVP year is the only time in major-league history a player has compiled a .300 batting average, 30 home runs, 120 runs batted in, 130 runs scored, 90 bases on balls, and 30 stolen bases - with fewer than 10 times caught stealing.


Murphy won five consecutive Gold Glove Awards, and won two consecutive MVP awards in 1982 and 1983, making him one of only four outfielders in major league history with consecutive MVP years, and the youngest ever to do so at the time. Between 1981 and 1986, Murphy played in 740 consecutive games, at the time the 11th longest such streak in baseball history (since then passed by Miguel Tejada and Cal Ripken).

As a fielder

Murphy did not begin his Major League career as an outfielder - though in the minor leagues, he had always played either the outfield or first base. He began in an ill-conceived attempt to conversion into a catcher, but he supposedly had difficulties throwing out runners attempting stolen bases.

Also, his knees were taking a good amount of pounding from trying to catch his teammate Phil Niekro's knuckleballs behind the plate, and other pitchers, too. Murphy also suffered a serious knee injury in a collision with a base-runner at home plate.

Murphy was moved briefly to first base, where he led all National League first basemen in errors with 23 in 1978, and left field, before reaching the peak of his success playing center field, his true natural position, where he won the Golden Glove award for five consecutive baseball seasons. By many sports reporters and observers, Murphy was considered to be the best all-around player in the Major Leagues for the six-year span between 1982-1987.

His professional baseball career began in 1976 and ended in 1993. He also played some for the Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies franchises. He finished his career with 398 home runs (19th in MLB history at the time of his retirement) and a .265 batting average. He reached the playoffs only once, in 1982, where the Braves were eliminated in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals. His jersey number "3" was retired by the Atlanta Braves on June 13, 1994.

Murphy's clean-living habits

Murphy's clean-living habits off the diamond were conspicuous in a league wracked by illegal drugs and salary controversies. A devout Latter-day Saint, or Mormon,[1] Murphy did not drink alcoholic beverages, would not allow women to be photographed embracing him and paid his teammates' dinner checks (as long as alcoholic beverages were not on the tab). He also refused to give television interviews unless he was fully dressed. Murphy had been introduced to the church by Barry Bonnell, a teammate early in his career.

For several years, the Atlanta Constitution ran a weekly column, where Murphy responded to young fans' questions and letters. Murphy's TV commercials usually had him advertising milk, ice cream, and Canon cameras. In 1987, he shared Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Year" award with seven others, characterized as "Athletes Who Care", for his work with numerous charities, including the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Georgia March of Dimes and the American Heart Association.

One of his more memorable incident was reminiscent of The Pride of the Yankees:

Before a home game against San Francisco on June 12, 1983, 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.[2]

Post-baseball life

After his baseball career ended, Murphy became more active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From 1997 to 2000, he served as president of the Massachusetts Boston Mission of the church.[3] Murphy was at one point said to be considering a run for Utah governor in 2004, but failed to generate enough interest within the Republican Party.

In 1997, Dale was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame & Museum.[4]

In 2008, he was appointed to the National Advisory Board for the national children's charity Operation Kids. He currently lives in Alpine, Utah.

Dale serves as a National Advisor to ASCEND: A Humanitarian Alliance.[5]

Hall of Fame

Murphy still receives support each year from the Baseball Writers Association to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. In order to be elected to the Hall of Fame, a candidate must receive votes on seventy-five percent (75%) of the ballots cast in any given year. Murphy received 11.5% on the 2009 ballot and 11.7% on the 2010 ballot. He will remain on the ballot as long as he appears on a minimum of five percent (5%) of the ballots cast in the preceding election. Support for Murphy's induction has wavered over the years, but received renewed attention once baseball's steroids scandal broke. Murphy was known as a "clean player" who demonstrated power without the use of steroids and many enthusiasts are reconsidering induction for steroid-free players such as Dale Murphy and Andre Dawson.

Various reasons given for his failure to date include the lack of success of the teams Murphy played on, and his "mediocre" performance in the later part of his career. Murphy's performance suddenly tailed off after the age of 31, and he finished his career with four below-average seasons and two seasons as a bench player.

His career numbers have also been overshadowed by the explosion in offense in the 10-year period just after Murphy's retirement (1993-2002). For example, there have been 50 home runs hit in a season 30 times in the history of baseball: 18 times between 1921-1990 and 12 times between 1995 and 2000. Many believe the general inflation in hitting statistics since the time of Murphy's retirement to the abuse of drugs such as androstenedione and steroids. Few outfielders with career totals comparable to Murphy before 1993 have made the Hall of Fame. According to Baseball Reference, only one of the ten players with career numbers most similar to Murphy's is in the Hall of Fame (Duke Snider). This, of course, does not account for how Murphy compares to his contemporaries, how he compares to these other ten (four of whom played significant amounts of time during the recent statistical binge period), or take into account the accolades above mentioned. The debate may be summarized as a question about whether it is more impressive to accumulate large statistical totals or to exhibit dominance over one's contemporaries. The former standard would be much harsher on Murphy while the latter would strongly suggest he be inducted to the Hall of Fame.

As an author

Dale Murphy has written three books. The first, The Scouting Report on Professional Athletics, elaborates details of the professional athlete's lifestyle. Murphy discusses balancing career and family, working with agents, business management, giving back, and preparing for retirement. The book has been a success among young athletes who desire a career in sports. The list of well-known figures who offered endorsements for the book includes Joe Torre, Jason Kidd, Steve Young, Wayne Gretzky, Cal Ripken, Jr., Bobby Bowden, Bill Walton, and Mike Krzyzewski.

His second book was an autobiography titled Murph. Murphy talked about his faith and why he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He discussed the struggles of his early baseball career and how he overcame problems. It wasn't a major success; the target reader was a young LDS male, a limited demographic.

His third book, released in 2007, is titled The Scouting Report for Youth Athletics. This book contains valuable information for coaches, parents, and players involved in youth sports. Dale wrote the book in response to the negative behavior that is increasing as a result of poor examples set by professional athletes. For example, steroid use among high school athletes reached an all-time high of one million users in 2006 due to the steroid scandals splashed in the headlines. This book is intended to voice a perspective of those who want to win at all costs. Stephen Keener, President and CEO of Little League Baseball, said, "Dale understands that the desire to win and pursuit of athletic dreams must be tempered with the fact that millions of kids will leave sports at a relatively young age and enter far more important arenas where it is absolutely necessary to have a foundation of honesty, dedication, and decency. I applaud Dale for undertaking this effort and encourage every Little League coach and parent to consider his thoughts before the next season begins. It will be well worth it." Included with each book is a 50-page insert which includes contributions from Peyton Manning, Dwyane Wade, Tom Glavine, George Mitchell, Danica Patrick, Larry H. Miller, and others. In a Q&A format, they discuss the great lessons they learned from youth sports and how they apply the lessons today. There is also a section written by two world-renowned doctors about illegal performance-enhancing drug use in sports.

Murphy was also one of the more vocal critics of Barry Bonds' home run record and steroid allegations. On August 6, 2007, while promoting his book during a phone interview with a sports radio station in Salt Lake City, Murphy accused Bonds of "without a doubt" using performance-enhancing drugs.[6]

Dale recently started a nonprofit organization called the iWontCheat foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to promote ethics in youth athletics and deter steroid use and cheating.[7]


Dale and his wife, Nancy have eight children. They are sons Chad, Travis, Shawn, Tyson, Taylor, Jake, McKay and daughter, Madison. His son Shawn plays American football for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Major league statistics

Career Hitting[8]
2,180 7,960 2,111 350 39 398 1,197 1,266 161 986 1,748 .265 .346 .469 .815

See also


External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Bob Horner
Gary Matthews
Mel Hall
Keith Moreland
Eric Davis
National League Player of the Month
August 1980
April 1982
September 1983
September 1984 & April 1985
August 1986
Succeeded by
Gary Carter
Tim Wallach
Tony Gwynn
Dave Parker
Steve Sax
Preceded by
Mike Schmidt
National League RBI Champion
(1982 with Al Oliver)
Succeeded by
Gary Carter & Mike Schmidt
Preceded by
Mike Schmidt
National League Most Valuable Player
1982, 1983
Succeeded by
Ryne Sandberg
Preceded by
Mike Schmidt
National League Home Run Champion
(1984 with Mike Schmidt)
Succeeded by
Mike Schmidt
Preceded by
Steve Garvey
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
Succeeded by
George Brett

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