The Modern Era Edition of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee has listed 10 men to be considered for induction. The list includes three of my all-time favorite players - Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly and Thurman Munson. Murphy and Mattingly battled injuries later in their careers that would drastically cut down on their stats, while Munson was killed in a plane crash while in his prime as a catcher for the New York Yankees.
For Dale Murphy, one of the Atlanta Braves all-time favorites, it's been a long wait......much too long. One of the nicest guys in the game, Murphy dominated the National League for several years through the 1980s.
He won back to back home run titles in 1982 and 1983 while also claiming league Most Valuable Player awards both years. As luck would have it, Murphy had 398 career home runs most of them coming during one of baseball's "Dead Ball" eras. But the single biggest factor that prevents him from being inducted is this; in 1993 Major League Baseball players went on strike from mid-season on. There were no playoffs and no World Series. Had the strike not occurred Murph would have easily had 400 career homers, which likely would have been enough for induction.
However, he came up two homers short of 400 which has been a key figure to determine Hall of Fame induction for many years. His overall resume lists five Gold Glove awards, as well as seven All-Star game appearances. He hit over .300 several times and was called by many the best player in the game in the early 1980s.
The fact that Harold Baines was chosen for induction last year by a different Veterans Committee could be a plus for Murphy. At least he's on the ballot again and in most sportswriters' minds he is the leading candidate on that list. Murphy isn't the only guy who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Pitcher Tommy John should have been inducted long ago. He had 288 career wins and a more than respectable 3.34 earned run average. His total of 288 wins is more than any other pitcher who is not in the hall except for Roger Clemens who has been accused of using steroids.
Whoever makes the ultimate decision on next year's Hall of Fame class should look very closely at all the players I mentioned above, but especially Dale Murphy. My daughter Christi wore number 3 on her jersey for most of her playing career through high school and college softball. Murphy had that kind of effect on youngsters and if there ever was a Hall of Fame person it was Dale Murphy.
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Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com