Feb 23, 2016

Hall Of Fame First Baseman Who Spent Two Years As a Mets Player: Eddie Murray (1992-1993)

Eddie Clarence Murray was born on February 24, 1956 in Los Angeles, California. He was one of twelve children & was always playing baseball with his four brothers. He played Little League & at his Hall of Fame speech thanked his Little League coach for teaching him a love for the game. 

At Locke high school in South L.A. Murray was a team mate with non other than future Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith. Steady Eddie was drafted out of high school in the third round of the 1973 draft by the Baltimore Orioles. The six foot two switch hitting first baseman/ designated hitter went on to become one of the games most productive players of his era, making it to Cooperstown. 

He would play 12 years with the Baltimore Orioles, getting to seven All Star games, and win three straight gold glove awards (1982-1984). He was amongst the league leaders in most offensive categories throughout his career, including RBIs 12 times & HRs eight times. He would hit 25 or more HRs twelve times, Murray would drive in over 100 runs six times, including four straight seasons (1982-1985). He would drive in over 90 runs twelve times, score over 100 runs six times, bat over .300 six times & hit 30 or more doubles seven times. 

He won the 1977 Rookie of the Year Award, Hitting 27 HRs with 29 doubles & 88 RBIs and batting .288. In 1979 he helped lead his club to the World Series hitting 25 HRs with 30 doubles 72 walks a .369 on base % & 99 RBIs while batting .295 on the season. 

 Post Season: In the ALCS against the California Angels, he hit .417 having a big Game #2 in Baltimore. That night he hit a three run HR off the Angel’s Mark Clear while driving in another run later in the game, as the O’s won it 9-8. He struggled in the World Series going 4-30 hitting a HR in Game #2 also in Baltimore. 

In 1980 he drove in 116 runs while hitting 32 HRs (both 5th in the AL) batting an even .300. In the strike shortened 1981 season he led the league in both HRs (22) & RBIs (78). It was the only year he led the league in any significant stats with the exception of 1984 when he led in on base % (.410) & walks (107). That year he made his second All Star appearance & the first of six straight All Star games through 1986. Defensively he led the league in fielding % (.999) & did the same in 1982 (.997%). 

Defensively the three time Gold Glover, led the league in fielding three times, assists & put outs three times as well as errors twice. He continued his hitting in 1982 with 32 HRs (5th in the AL) 110 RBIs (6th in the AL) posting a career best .316 average up to that point. That year he led the league for the first of three times in intentional walks (18). 

In the Orioles 1983 championship season he hit 33 HRs (4th in the AL) drove in 111 runs (5TH in the AL) and batted .306. In the ALCS he hit a HR in Game #3 against the Chicago White Sox. Overall he went 4-15 with three walks & three RBIs in the series.

In the World Series against the Philadelphia  Phillies he hit two HRs in the Orioles Game #5 clincher at Philadelphia. Overall he batted. 250 in the Series 5-20 with a walk two runs scored & three RBIs.

During his time in Baltimore he became close friends with future Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. The two became highly publicized athletes in the Baltimore /D.C area. Murray was a fan favorite as well as Ripken, as they would cheer "Eddie Eddie" many times when he came to bat. Murray was a great clutch hitter with runners in scoring position as well as with two strikes on hi. He remained in Baltimore through the late eighties continuing his excellent hitting, although the team did not get to any more post seasons for him. 

In December 1988 he was traded for Juan Bell, Brian Holton and Ken Howell going to his home town of Los Angeles to play for the Dodgers. In 1989 he hit 20 HRs with 88 RBIs in Dodgers Stadium but his average fell to a career low .247. In 1990 he was the league's top paid player & he rebounded to a .330 batting average coming in second in the NL batting race to Willie McGee. Murray hit 26 HRs with 96 runs scored (8th in the NL) & drove in 96 runs (6th in the NL). In three seasons in Los Angeles he hit over 20 HRs & drove in over 90 runs twice. 

In 1992 at the age of 35 he signed with the New York Mets as a free agent. By the time he arrived at Shea Stadium, his best years were behind him. He debuted as a Met on Opening Day batting fifth behind Howard Johnson & would be the clubs main first baseman.

In mid April he showed his Hall of Fame form, on the 14th he drove in three runs, including a pair of doubles leading the Mets to an 8-5 win over the Phillies. The next day he doubled again driving in two more runs in a 7-2 Mets win. As the Mets moved on to Montreal, Murray cleared the bases hitting a double off Dennis Martinez leading the club to a 10-2 win. The next day he had two more hits & drove in two more runs, giving him a total of ten RBIs in his last four games. 
 On April 22nd he hit a walk off HR over the right field fence, off the St. Louis Cardinals Chris Carpenter giving the team a 3-2 victory. He closed out the month with a four RBI day on April 28th , driving in all runs in the David Cone two hit shut out, over the Astros. In June he drove in runs in the first five games of the month.

On June 2nd he drove in all four Mets runs with a grand slam HR against the San Francisco Giants, helping Wally Whitehurst to a 4-3 win. On June 6th he went into the record books, and did it while wearing a Mets uniform. Murray set the record for most RBIs all time by a switch hitter, when he drove in his 1510th RBI with a sac fly in a 15-1 Mets win against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. He drove in twenty runs in the month of June. 

On July 10th, he came to bat in the top of the 9th inning, in Houston with New York trailing 6-4. With the bases loaded he doubled driving in all three runs, leading to a 7-6 Mets comeback win. At the end of July, Murray had more heroics, as he had another 9th inning double, scoring two runs & bringing the Mets from behind to win in a game at Philadelphia, against the Phillies. He hit three HRs in games against the Cubs at the start of August, in both New York & at Chicago. 
 On September 4th he hit another grand slam HR, this one against the Reds at Riverfront Stadium, leading New York to a 5-2 win. He drove in four more runs, including a three run HR, in a game at Shea Stadium on September 19th, in a 7-5 win over the Montreal Expos. Back at Wrigley Field, he drove in two runs in a 10-8 Mets win on September 14th. The next day he hit a two run HR in the 1st inning, helping New York to a 4-2 win.

The durable Murray played in 156 games leading the team in RBIs (93) & doubles (37), both were seventh most in the league. He also led the club in hits (144) walks (66) & runs scored (64). He was second to Bobby Bonilla in HRs (16) & was third in on base % (.336). At first base he led the NL with 12 errors, and was third in games played, assists & put outs. 
 He adjusted with an even better 1993 season, starting out the year going 4-9 with two RBIs in the Opening Series against the expansion Colorado Rockies. In a late April home stand he hit HRs in consecutive games against the San Francisco Giants, both leading to wins.

He went into May driving in runs in six straight games & then drove in the only run of 1-0 Bret Saberhagen win on May 10th against Florida. At the end of June he hit HRs in three straight games and drove in runs in eight of nine game sinto the first week of July.  From July 2nd - July 6th he drove in ten runs, hit two HRs and had nine hits, on a Shea home stand, against the West Coast Giants & Padres. 

Later in the month he hit a two run HR in San Diego leading to a -2 Mets win. The next day, on July 22nd, he hit two HRs, while driving in five runs at Los Angeles in a 10-5 win against his old Dodger team mates.

On July 28th, he hit a walk off double against Brian Harvey leading the Mets to a 5-4 win over the Marlins. In the month he drove in 26 runs & hit five HRs. Murray hit three HRs in the first weekof August & then three more in the first week of September. In the month of September he hit safely in 24 of 29 games, ending the year with a solid .285 average. 

Although he was 36 years old, he was still a productive player & an RBI machine. The rest of the club, did not gel around him. There there was no pennant race for the '93 Mets. The team finished dead last going 59-103 under managers; Jeff Torborg & Dallas Green. This cast of Mets were dubbed "The worst team money could buy". 

Murray drove in 100 runs (10th in the league, while leading the Mets). He led the team in batting (.285) hits (174) doubles (28) games played (154) & at bats (610). He hit 27 HRs (second on the club to Bonilla). His nine sac flies were second most in the league. 
 Murray moved on in 1994, going to the Cleveland Indians for two seasons. After a down year in the strike shortened 1994 season, Murray returned to help the Indians get to the World Series in 1995. 

He was primarily the teams DH batting .323 with 21 HRs 21 doubles & 82 RBIs. He hit a HR in each round of the playoffs, first in the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, then a Game #4 HR in the Indians ALCS win over the Seattle Mariners. 
 In the 1995 World Series he went just 2-9, but he won Game #3 with a walk off single in the bottom of the eleventh inning off of Atlanta’s Alejandro Pena. 

The next season in July, he was traded by the Indians to the Orioles for Kent Mercker in order for him to finish his career back in Baltimore. On September 6, 1996, he hit his 500th career HR as an Oriole, exactly one year to the day that Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak. He went out a hero as the fans gave him a huge send off in his final game. 

His Hall of Fame numbers include, 3026 hits (13th all time), 504 HRs (25th all time) (second among switch hitters) 19 grand slams (4th all time) 1917 RBIs (10th all time) 560 doubles (24th all time) 1627 runs scored (40th all time) & 1333 walks (36th all time).

He has 1099 extra base hits (18th all time) 222 intentional walks (9th all time) & is first all time with 128 sac flies. He struck out 1516 times (49th all time) grounded into 315 double plays (6th all time). 

At first base he has played in the most games of any first base man in the history of the game (2413) also making the most assists ever at the position (1865). He is fourth in put outs (21255) & posted a .993 fielding % (77th all time). 

In 2003 Murray was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame with another former Mets player, catcher Gary Carter. In his speech he said it was never about one person but always about the team.

In the back of the crowd 300 inner city kids came from the Baltimore area to hear his speech, on their way out he gave the bus loads of kids autographed bats, balls & programs. His number 33 was retired by the Orioles in 1998.

Murray with Cal Ripken 1983
In the 1980's he donated large amounts of money to the Baltimore City Parks Department which led to the Carrie Murray Nature Center named in his mothers honor. 

Retirement: After his playing days Murray was the Cleveland Indians hitting coach from 2002-2005. He then spent 2006 / 2007 as a Los Angeles Dodger coach.

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