ATLANTA — (Editor's note: On Sunday the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Modern Baseball Era committee voted in two new members, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller. Braves legend Dale Murphy, a much-debated Hall of Fame candidate, did not receive enough support to make it, and the committee won't reconvene for another vote until December 2022. Below, 11Alive anchor Jeff Hullinger makes the case for Murphy.)
If you were not alive or here when Dale Murphy was in his Atlanta prime - I can’t aptly describe how big of a star he was in the South.
The crowds became so great at his home in Roswell, the family was forced to move.
I covered Braves baseball in 1980’s Atlanta. It was unbelievable.
Unbelievable with the way he handled the pressure and vice of celebrity too, exemplifying dignity and decency
With the emergence of the Superstation globally on cable, he was a new kind of baseball superstar.
He was a dominant player for eight years. From 1982 to 1985, he was the only player in baseball with over 30 home runs and 100 RBI for each season. He also played in all 162 games per season for the Braves. Murphy led the National League in RBI in 1982 and 1983 (his two MVP seasons) and led the league in home runs in 1984 and ’85.
Dale Murphy was one of the best players in the game on some of the worst teams, and No. 3 remains extraordinarily popular with fans, executives and players from his era
In August, I spent an Atlanta evening with former MLB owner and commissioner Bud Selig. He is an admirer of Murphy, and Hall of Fame supportive. Ted Turner has always been a proponent of Dale getting into the Hall.
Ernie Johnson Jr. also agrees Murphy should be in Cooperstown. The TBS Broadcaster, whose father was the voice of the franchise, was interviewed for a book, "Batting Clean: Why Dale Murphy Belongs in Baseball's Hall of Fame," and has introduced me its author, Kirk McKnight.
McKnight, a lifelong Braves fan, has told me: “The problem is Hall of Fame voters claim they consider six criteria when making their decision: record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contribution. Murph excelled at those collectively better than perhaps any player who ever lived."
But, he says, “the voters fixated themselves on a home run column two short of 400 and a batting average column just short of .270."
Murphy’s numbers are similar to Alan Trammell and Harold Baines, and they are in the Hall of Fame - both elected by the Modern Baseball committee. Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro and other great players of the era support Murphy and his inclusion.
Dale Murphy was among four candidates who got fewer than six votes from the 16-member Modern Era committee, which next convenes December 2022 to vote on candidates for the HOF Class of 2023.
The case against Murphy is that he falls short on the benchmark stats you would expect from a Hall of Fame power hitter - not quite 400 home runs, fewer than 1,300 RBI, a .469 career slugging percentage.
The bar has changed. The steroid era helped ensure such.
But his case was strong in his playing days, strong when the writers denied him for 15 years, and remains strong now, even as the Modern Era committee also keeps him out.
Ron Darling, who pitched for the Mets during the 80s, was asked on the MLB Network over the weekend about the selection, and how Murphy stacks up with the others who were on the ballot:
“Among those names, I played against all," he said. "Dale Murphy played like a Hall of Famer, behaved like a Hall of Famer, was a Hall of Famer."
It's not fair that he still isn't in. Not right.
Here in the South we know better.