When Dale Murphy was playing in Atlanta, he was as beloved as any player who had worn a Braves uniform. Along with being one of the National League's finest players, Murphy further endeared himself to his fans with the genuine dedication he showed to his community.
There may have been a short period during the 1980s when Murphy seemed to be a cinch for future Hall of Fame induction. But since being placed on the ballot in 1999, 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.
Last year, Murphy's name was listed on 11.5 percent (62 votes) of the ballots. That was 13 votes fewer than he'd received one year earlier.
"I don't understand why he hasn't gotten more respect from the voters," said former Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren, who broadcast many of Murphy's games while the Atlanta legend spent 15 years of his 18-year career with the Braves.
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.
"I would love to see Dale in the Hall of Fame," 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."
Former slugger Andre Dawson (67 percent), former Twins ace Bert Blyleven (62.7 percent), and former closer Lee Smith (44.5 percent) are the top three returning vote-getters.
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. Murphy's only offensive equals in terms of power numbers during the course of the entire decade were Mike Schmidt and Eddie Murray, who are already in the Hall.
Murphy compiled more total bases than anybody during the '80s. During the decade, 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 hope he gets in there," Braves president John Schuerholz said. "I think he is a very deserving candidate and wonderful human being. He'd be a very wonderful recipient."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.