07/27/2003 8:19 PM ET
Murray lets down the wall at Hall
COOPERSTOWN -- Eddie Murray's playing career had been a 21-year-long enactment of The Wall, the Pink Floyd concept concert about isolationism.
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Consumed by his focus on the field, Murray had built walls around the press, whose questions he blocked out, and the fans, whose chants he muted.
Now that he was a freshly minted Hall of Famer, just as at the conclusion of every Pink Floyd show, it was time to let The Wall come down.
Eddie Murray's Hall of Fame plaque
Minutes after his formal induction into Cooperstown's shrine, Murray took a few minutes to further doctor the two relationships that had clouded his playing days.
He had already found his peace with the fans, legions of whom had bused east for the Induction Ceremony and were delightfully surprised to hear Murray invite those "Ed-Dee! Ed-Dee!" chants he used to dread.
"When you come out of the minors and get into a Major League uniform and all of a sudden hear that," Murray said, recalling his 1977 debut as a highly trumpeted Baltimore rookie, "it's awesome. It made me uncomfortable.
"But I learned to deal with it, so I could go out and do my job."
The way he dealt with the media, for most of his career, was by not dealing with them at all.
In a way, that history with the people who hold Hall of Fame elections became one of the most satisfying elements of his inductions.
Murray spoke from the heart when he devoted part of his speech to Ted Williams who, during his Hall of Fame induction in 1966, had said, "I must have earned this. I know I didn't win it with my friendship with the writers."
"In that way," Murray said, "I'm proud to be in his company."
"To me, words focused on the individual," continued Murray, obviously compelled, in this fraternal setting, to explain his past stance. "It had nothing to do with how you hit or how you played the game.
"Baseball is a team game. It's not an 'I' or a 'me' thing. That's what I learned. And that's what I still believe in, what I preach to my kids as batting coach with the Indians."
No one or anything can move Murray off his beliefs. That is why, although he admitted to harboring managerial aspirations, he doubted ever tempting that task. It's a different game, one that may not coexist with his ideals.
"There are some things I believe in," he said. "If I had a team, they'd have to dance to that. I believe in doing things a certain way, and I don't know if the old style could work today."
In the final fleeting moments of a memorable weekend, Murray's mind traveled back to the green lawn of the Clark Sports Center, from where the Orioles fans had serenaded him earlier.
"You can never assume what is going to go on out there," said Murray, implying he wished he had been prepared to better answer the show of love. "I wish I could get closer to them."
The hillsides had cleared. That chance was gone.
But not the chance to get closer to the writers, to reach out and verbally pat the men and women he had spent so many years spurning.
Eddie Murray's time behind the microphone had officially ended. He was formally excused from having to sit for any more questions, from having to give any more answers.
But before he left the stage, unsolicited, he turned to address the group of writers.
"Talking to you like this is a whole lot easier when there's no game to be played. It's a whole lot easier than when you have to go out and face a slider.
"It's ... just nice. Easier. A good day to you all."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.