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Spotlight on the quiet man
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07/24/2003  5:56 PM ET 
Spotlight on the quiet man
Murray eager to put Hall of Fame hoopla behind him
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Hall of Famers Eddie Murray (left) and Gary Carter talk at Vero Beach this spring. (Juan Ocampo/Dodgers)
CLEVELAND -- Eddie Murray doesn't have much longer to wait. All the hoopla will be behind the 47-year-old Murray in a day or so, and the Indians hitting coach can then get back to playing the role he likes to play best: the quiet man.

Never a man who reveled in the spotlight, Murray now finds himself dead center in it as the focus of media accounts and public adulation. On Sunday, he will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the grand prize for a stellar career in the Major Leagues.

All this pomp accompanies this unique circumstance.

Without a doubt, Murray takes pride in that career, but he would much prefer to let his statistics, not his voice, speak to what he'd achieved.

As he jokingly puts it, "It's a pain in the butt."

Murray might be right, too. Everybody who follows baseball now wants a piece of the man or his autograph or 60 seconds of his time. People want him to reflect on his baseball life, but he prefers to keep those reflections to himself.

That's the walking contradiction that is Eddie Murray. He's a public talent who doesn't enjoy the public life.

But he now must open his privacy to give outsiders a glimpse, if only for one afternoon in upstate New York. They want to know from Eddie Murray what makes Eddie Murray the man he is. They want Murray to tell them in his own words -- over and over and over and over and ...

""Everybody's been meaning well," he says as he sits inside the Indians dugout. "But you get tired. You get mentally tired. I mean, the phone calls that are coming -- just everybody just saying they're gonna be there."

Not everybody, of course, will be there this weekend. Cooperstown, N.Y., is simply too small a town for that. But thanks to television cameras, the eyes of the baseball world will zoom in on Murray, along with Gary Carter, as he walks into baseball's holiest shrine.

Those eyes will get to see this unique man, recall his special achievements and salute a 21-year career played well.

And they will hear Eddie Murray, who played more games at first base than anybody else in baseball history, talk about Eddie Murray, which is as rare as a Triple Crown winner.

"(There are) times when you actually look forward to it," Murray says of the induction and its trappings. "(There are) times when you wish it was over. You thought you had things taken care of, but you're still getting phone calls."

By his own doing, the phone calls will stop, the pomp will lessen and Eddie Murray will return to his duties of tutoring hitters for the Indians. He'll put his personality and his baseball memories in mothballs. They will not be there for the public's consumption, except in Cooperstown.

But from Murray, the public will hear little. The quiet man will return to the quiet life he seems to favor over all the applauses and any big to-do about coming to work and playing hard every time he put on his uniform.

Justice B. Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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