Dale Murray : Late Seventies Mets Reliever (1978-1979)

Dale Albert Murray was born February 2, 1950, in Cuero, Texas. The six-foot four right-handed pitcher was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 18th round of the 1970 draft. 

Murray spent four years in the Expos minor leagues having his best season in 1972 when he won 11 games (11-5) posting eight saves, being used mostly as a reliever.  The next year he made 23 starts at AAA Peninsula but fell off to 8-13 with a 4.26 ERA. He would become a full-time reliever by the 1974 season.

MLB Career: He was brought up to the big leagues in July 1974, finishing off a 4-1 loss to the NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Overall, Murray was a pleasant surprise for the fourth place Montreal Expos, saving ten games (7th in the NL) posting a 1.03 ERA in 32 appearances.

In 1975 Murray became one of the league’s top pitchers out of the bullpen, winning 15 games (15-8) with the ninth most wins in the league. He recorded nine saves, with 43 strikeouts 39 walks, in 111 innings pitched and a 3.36 ERA. Right hand batters hit just 0.96 against him while lefties just 1.36.

From August 16th through the end of the season he was 10-1 with four saves. His teammates saved him four different times with their bats, after he had blown a save or a win opportunity. He was the winningest pitcher on Gene Mauch’s '75 Expos staff, his wins & saves accounted for one third of the team’s 75 wins. 

In the bicentennial 1976 season, he led all NL pitchers in appearances (81) while finishing up 55 games (third most in the league). Murray saved 13 games (9th in the NL) for the 6th place Expos, going 4-9 with a 3.26 ERA. 

In December of 1976, Murray & pitcher Woodie Fryman were sent to the Cincinnati Reds in a big trade for slugger Tony Perez & reliever Will McEnaney. 

In 1977, he was now with a better ball club going 7-2 with four saves, second out of the Reds bullpen to (the cap eating) Pedro Borbon. 

On Opening Day 1978, Murray got credit for a hold, as Tom Seaver pitched his first Opening Day in a uniform other than his usual Mets #41. Murray earned two saves and went 1-1 in 15 appearances through May 17th.

Traded to the Mets: He was then traded to the New York Mets in exchange for Ken Henderson who had only played seven games as a Met. Prior to joining the Mets, Murray was 5-1 with four saves against them in his career. 

Mets Career: In his first game as a Met, he came into a tied game with the Phillies in the top of the 9th inning. He gave up a bases loaded pinch hit double to Davey Johnson & a total of five runs over two innings of work. 

Five days later, he pitched three scoreless innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates to earn his first Met victory. On May 27th he earned a save with two scoreless innings at Houston. On June 23rd he earned a win pitching two scoreless extra innings against the Pirates. Tim Foli's walk off single in the 11th won it for New York.

On July 20th he earned a 5-4 extra inning win at Shea Stadium, pitching three scoreless innings against the Houston Astros. Joel Youngblood won it with a walk off double off Joe Sambito.

From August 18th through the end of the season, he was one of the team’s best pitchers. In 16 games he went 4-1 with three saves posting a 2.16 ERA allowing six earned runs in 25 innings of work while blowing just one save opportunity. 

Murray finished the year at 8-5, with five saves & 53 appearances, both second on the staff to Skip Lockwood. 
In 86 innings he gave up 85 hits, struck out 37 batters, walked 36 & allowed 35 runs while posting a 3.65 ERA.

1979: Murray had a rough start to the year, earning a loss in the third game of the season, against the Montreal Expos. He pitched three innings but allowed a top of the 14th triple to Andre Dawson, which won the game. Overall, in April he blew two saves, taking two losses to the Expos.

On April 29th he earned his first victory, in a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In May he took two more losses, both in middle relief. On May 27th he served up a top of the 9th inning HR, to future Mets batting coach Bill Robinson, which was his third loss of the month. 

In June he was credited with two wins from June 6th to June 12th, both against the Reds. In July he was credited with three saves, but then in August he would blow two late inning leads to go 0-3 that month. 

In early September the Expos bought out his contract from the Mets. The Expos were in a pennant race with the Pirates at that time. Unfortunately, on September 18th, Murray served up an 11th game winning inning HR to the Pirates Willie Stargell giving them a two-game lead over Montreal. He went 1-2 with a save that month for Montreal. 

He finished the year leading the sixth place Mets in appearances (58) going 4-8 with a 4.82 ERA finishing off 24 games.

Mets Career Stats: Overall in his two season Mets career, he was 12-13 with nine saves & a 4.27 ERA finishing off 62 games in 111 appearances. He struck out 74 but walked 88 in 183.1 innings.

Post Mets Career: From 1980 to the end of his career Murray was a real journeyman. He pitched for the Montreal Expos (1980) Toronto Blue Jays (1981-1982) where he was 8-7 with a team best 11 saves in 1982. Then he briefly pitched for the AL New York team (1983-1984) & the Texas Rangers (1985) before retiring.

Career Stats: Lifetime in his 12-year career Murray was 53-50 with 60 saves, finishing off 287 games. He posted 400 strike outs & 329 walks in 902 innings pitched & a 3.35 ERA over 518 appearances.


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