Time is running out on Dale Murphy's bid to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But the popular Braves outfielder's name has remained on the ballot because of the support shown by those who believe his dominance in the early part of the 1980s earned him a place in Cooperstown.
There may have been a short period during the '80s when Murphy seemed to be a cinch for future Hall of Fame induction. But since being placed on the ballot in '99, he's never received more than 24 percent of the votes. To be enshrined, a player must be included on 75 percent of the ballots.
Murphy was included on 11.7 percent of the ballots last year, just two-tenths higher than the percentage he drew in 2009. Players need to receive at least five percent of the votes to remain on the ballot the following year.
This marks the 13th time that Murphy's name has appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot. If not elected after 15 years, players are removed from the ballot and their candidacy rests in the hands of voting conducted by the Veterans Committee.
"I would love to see Dale in the Hall of Fame," former Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "For two reasons, the numbers he put up, [and] he was MVP twice. And if you look at the all-around type of player he was, he went from catcher to first base to left field to center field and became a Gold Glove winner. Also his character, what he does for communities and all that, has to add in somewhere."
Murphy's best Hall of Fame balloting results came in 2000, when he was listed on 23.2 percent of the ballots. But since '01, he's never been included on as many as 15 percent of the ballots.
If the Hall of Fame were simply based on character, Murphy would have been a first-ballot inductee. Unfortunately for him, his resume includes a .265 lifetime batting average that came as a result of some unproductive late years in his career. He hit .289 from 1982-87, and batted .238 from '88 -- at the age of 33 -- until the end of his career in '93.
Still, Murphy was undoubtedly one of the greatest players during the 1980s. He was the National League's MVP in '82 and '83, making him and Roger Maris the only eligible non-Hall of Famers to win consecutive MVP Awards. Two of the most comparable players to Murphy during the course of that decade were Mike Schmidt and Eddie Murray, who are in the Hall.
Murphy compiled more total bases than anybody during the '80s. Over that ten year span, Schmidt was the only player with more homers and Murray was the only player with more RBIs.
During his career, which also included stints with the Rockies and Phillies, Murphy amassed 398 homers, 2,111 hits and 1,266 RBIs. The converted catcher won five Gold Gloves as an outfielder and didn't miss a game from 1982-86.
"I just have never understood why Dale hasn't drawn more support," former Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren said. "He's always been a wonderful human being and for a few years there he was as good as any other player in the game. He's certainly deserving."