PostHeaderIcon Sorry, Murphy!

Dale MurphyDespite a heartfelt campaign led by his children, LDS baseball star and former Massachusetts Boston Mission President Dale Murphy was not inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, according to the results announced this afternoon. While that result was expected, the fact that fellow Mormon Jack Morris was also not selected was almost as suprising as the fact that the BBWAA selected none of the eligible players this year. The group last failed to add any players to the Hall of Fame in 1996.

While Morris’ case for the Hall of Fame was much stronger, it was not without detractors. Still, the steady increase in the percentage of the vote that Morris received each year led many to think that he could well be selected this year. But this year’s ballot was unusual for the number of big name players entering for the first time, including Barry Bonds, Sammy Sousa, Curt Schilling, and Roger Clemens, all of whom, by their numbers, seem destined to eventually make the Hall.

However, most of the big names suffered from the hangover of performance-enhancing drugs. Writers apparently couldn’t bring themselves to vote for those who are widely considered to have cheated in order to enhance their abilities. With so many other names (a total of 37) on the ballot, no one managed to earn a consensus among the writers.

Despite the high level of competition, Morris still managed to increase the percentage of votes he received slightly, from 66.7% to 67.7%. He will remain on the ballot next year, for his final year of eligibility. Again, while it may seem like he has a good chance of making the Hall of Fame, the newly eligible next year also include some strong candidates, like Tom Glavine, Luis Gonzalez, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, and Frank Thomas. And readers of Mormon Baseball will quickly note that one of these, Jeff Kent, is LDS.

Fans of Murphy may be interested to note that Murphy did well compared to previous years, reaching his 3rd highest percentage of the ballots, higher than all previous years of eligibility except his first two. And, given his nice guy image he may be able to be inducted by the veterans committee (made up of all living members of the Hall of Fame).

Despite not making the Hall, Dale Murphy has nothing to be ashamed of. He is beloved by millions of fans and his legacy in and out of the Church is assured for many, many years.

3 Responses to “Sorry, Murphy!”

  • Benjamin says:

    Dale Murphy was mission president in Boston when I got baptized as an 18-year-old. I will never forget that broad-shouldered giant coming to my house, sitting in a rickety old wicker chair in my living room, and sharing his conversion with me. (The missionaries knew I was a huge baseball fan; I lived only about a quarter-mile from the mission office, so they brought him to the third discussion.) President Murphy ended up saying the opening prayer at my baptism, and we’ve kept in touch a bit since then, mostly as I run into him and his wife around town in northern Utah County.

    Even though I consider Dale Murphy a friend, statistically speaking I do not believe he is a Hall of Famer. His comparables are players like Jim Edmonds, Andruw Jones, and Joe Carter — all very good players who were not quite great, or not great enough for long enough to warrant inclusion in Cooperstown. He was very, very good for only seven years, from 1980 through 1987, and was great for a few of those years. His career OPS of .815 doesn’t knock my socks off. He’s the classic 1980s power hitter: lots of homers, lots of strikeouts, low-ish average (although Murphy partially made up for that by walking a reasonable amount). That doesn’t scream “Absolutely, he needs a bronze plaque.” And while the fact that he did all of it with class should matter to some extent, the sense I get is that as church members, our desire to see Murphy honored may have caused some to overestimate the importance of this factor in voters’ minds.

    The Hall of Fame should, in my opinion, be an extremely exclusive club. The line between “great enough” and “not quite” has never been clearly defined (nor should it be) but based on the numbers alone I don’t see a strong enough case. I say that having the highest possible respect for Murphy as a player and as a man.

    You’re absolutely right that he has nothing to be ashamed of, and the Dale Murphy I knew wouldn’t even particularly care about the praise of a bunch of baseball scribes in the first place.

  • Mark B. says:

    John Philip (Sammy) Sousa didn’t make it into the Hall again? What a travesty!

    If Wikipedia is to be believed, the “Veterans Committee” was changed in 2010, and does not include all living members of the Hall of Fame. It’s too complicated to repeat it all here, but it appears that they’ll vote on post-expansion era players just once every three years, and so the first time Murph could be considered would be 2014.

  • larry says:

    Murph was always my favorite player. I believe it was SI who put him as a shoo-in for the HOF when he was 29. I think injuries and his inability to consistently hit the low-outside corner pitch did him in.

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