Braves great ‘Murph’ is again denied election to baseball Hall of Fame

7:11 p.m Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 Atlanta Braves
ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Braves icon Dale Murphy is pictured waving to the crowd before the Braves’ home opener at SunTrust Park in April. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Dale Murphy and his many fans will have to keep waiting and hoping the Braves icon will someday be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“Murph,” one of the best and most popular players in Atlanta professional-sports history, fell shy of the votes requires for election on Sunday by the Modern Baseball Era Committee, which considered 10 candidates and selected a pair of former Detroit Tigers, pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell.

Twelve votes were required from the 16-member committee – formerly known as the Veterans Committee – for election to the Hall of Fame. 

Braves fans hoped that the former two-time National League MVP would be inducted in the Class of 2018 along with former Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, the switch-hitting slugger expected to far surpass the 75-percent threshold for election from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in this, his first year on the ballot.

Murphy spent the maximum 15 years on the writers’ ballot and never got as many as 25 percent of the votes, so it’ll be up to the Modern Era committee if he’s to ever make it.

The committee met at a Disney World resort hotel, where baseball executives, agents, media members and others began arriving for the annual Winter Meetings that begin Monday. Murphy is eligible for consideration again when the Modern Baseball Era Committee meets next in 2019.

Murphy, 61, was one of baseball’s biggest stars in the 1980s and the face of the Braves franchise before being traded in 1990, his 15th season with Atlanta. The seven-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove Award played three more seasons on battered knees with the Phillies and Rockies before retiring with 398 home runs, 1,266 RBIs and 161 stolen bases in a career that spanned parts of 18 seasons through 1993.

Jones is expected to make it four out of the past five years that the Braves have at least one representative inducted in the Hall of Fame, and he would be the sixth in that span after former Braves pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, manager Bobby Cox and general manager John Schuerholz.

The 2018 induction ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. on July 29 at Cooperstown, N.Y., and Braves fans had hoped to see Murphy on the stage alongside Jones.

“Murph epitomizes everything that a Hall of Famer should be,” Jones said in a text earlier in the weekend. “Great player, better man!”

Twelve votes were required from the 16-member committee for election to the Hall of Fame, and Morris (14) and Trammell (13) made the cut while longtime Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons, who spent the last three seasons of his career with the Braves, fell one vote shy. 

Former players union chief Marvin Miller got seven votes and the remaining six candidates – Murphy, Luis Tiant, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dave Parker – all got fewer than seven votes according to the Baseball Hall of Fame, which didn’t provide specific totals for the group with six or fewer votes.

The committee considered 10 individuals whose greatest impact came during the 1970-1987 period – nine players along with Miller, who transformed the players’ association into one of the strongest unions in the country. 

Murphy was one of the few reasons to watch the Braves during the 1980s, when they made only one postseason appearance – he won the first of his consecutive MVP awards in that 89-win 1982 NL West title season -- but were staples on national television via team owner Ted Turner’s cable SuperStation. Murphy’s popularity soared despite all the losses.

Murphy was one of the few reasons to watch the Braves during the 1980s, when they made only one postseason appearance – he won the first of his consecutive MVP awards in that 89-win 1982 NL West title season -- but were staples on national television via team owner Ted Turner’s cable SuperStation. Murphy’s popularity soared.

The Modern Baseball Era Committee considered for election 10 individuals whose greatest impact came during the 1970-1987 period – players Morris, Trammell, Murphy, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Jack Morris, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Luis Tiant, and Marvin Miller, who transformed the players’ association into one of the strongest unions in the country. 

Murphy finished with a .265 batting average, .346 on-base percentage and .469 slugging percentage, stats that were hurt by his injury-related struggles over the final five years of his career. He was arguably the best player in baseball during a six-year span from 1982 through 1987, winning back-to-back MVP awards in 1982-1983 and finishing ninth in the balloting and 1984, seventh in 1985 and 11th in 1987.

He had seven seasons with 29 or more homers in an eight-year span including four straight seasons (1982-1985) in which he had at least 36 homers and 100 RBIs while playing all 162 games. From 1983 through 1985, he hit at least .290, slugged at least .539 and posted an OPS of .919 or higher.

As prolific as his peak years were, the relatively short span that Murphy enjoyed as a superstar is what has kept him from being voted into the Hall of Fame by the writers.

The 16-member Modern Era committee included eight Hall of Famers, three of whom had Braves ties: Schuerholz, Cox and Braves broadcaster and pitcher Don Sutton. Other Hall of Famers on the committee included George Brett, Rod Carew, Dennis Eckersley, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount, and they were joined by a group that includes five baseball executives and three media members and/or historians.

The committee will have different members when it meets again at the 2019 Winter Meetings and the ballot could include plenty of holdovers from this year’s candidates.

1. A first-round pick in 1974, Dale Murphy spent 15 seasons in Atlanta. 2. Hit .265 and 398 homers in a career that spanned 18 seasons. 3. His No. 3 jersey number was retired by the Braves in 1994. 4. He played every game from 1982 until 1985. 5. His 308 home runs during the 1980s, rank only behind Mike Schmidt. 6. Murphy was a seven-time All-Star. 7. Murphy had just one postseason appearance -- in 1982. 8. He won five Gold Glove Awards with the Braves. 9. Murphy won back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and 1
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