01/06/2003 4:03 PM ET
Humble Murray awaits Hall vote
BALTIMORE -- Tuesday could be a special day for the Orioles organization if another one of its own is elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
By Gary Washburn / MLB.com
But for Eddie Murray, who is expected to be chosen in the first year he is eligible, it likely will be not a grand celebration.
That's because Murray didn't play the game to seek accolades, even though he swatted 504 homers and amassed 3,255 hits.
The Hall of Fame Committee will announce its new inductees Tuesday. Murray, a reserved man who let his talents and not his mouth to lead him to stardom, could finally receive his due from the media he never embraced during his playing days.
"I don't think the media understood Eddie," said Orioles vice president of baseball operations Mike Flanagan. "I got to know Eddie the 10 years I played with him, and he was really an intense player. But he was a good person. But he was a quiet guy. He didn't like to talk about what he did."
Flanagan said Murray was "one of the worst batting practice hitters I ever saw," sprinkling balls over all fields with his powerful bat instead of swatting homers over the Memorial Stadium right-field wall.
Flanagan said he approached Murray about his batting practice hitting, and Murray told him it did no good to belt homers -- something he knew he could do easily -- instead of spraying singles and working on his clutch hitting.
So soon after the conversation, Murray won a key game against Cleveland with a blooper over third base. As a testament to Murray's mental approach being vastly underrated, former Indians coach Dave Nelson called Murray the luckiest player in baseball because of his game-winning bleeder.
"I guess you never saw me taking batting practice," Murray reportedly told Nelson.
Flanagan obviously realizes Murray's icy relationship with the media and the public perception that he remains a surly man despite his achievements. But as a teammate, Flanagan said Murray was a motivator and inspiration.
"The [Murray] in the clubhouse is a leader, a role model and all a teammate could ever be," Flanagan said. "I don't think he was a person who let his emotions down. But he was one of the greatest clutch hitters I have ever seen."
Murray was one of the league's top first basemen and hitters from his rookie season in 1977 until the late 1980s. When he switched to the National League with the Dodgers in 1989, he remained a dangerous hitter and a solid defensive first baseman.
He likely cemented his trip to the Hall of Fame with his 500th homer on Sept. 6, 1996, his last great moment with the O's, and his 3,000th hit, accomplished in 1995 with Cleveland.
"[Going into the Hall of Fame] is something I don't think about," Murray recently told MLB Radio. "I don't think about things I don't have control over. That's the type of player I was. You don't let things distract you. You just go out there and do the best that [you] can. That's all I attempted to do."
Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.