Major League Baseball recently unveiled its Hall of Fame Class of 2019. The group is led by former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who is the first player in history to be voted into Coopertown with 100% of the vote. Entering with Sandman are starting pitchers Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina, along with designated hitter Edgar Marinez. They will be joined by Harold Baines and Lee Smith, who were voted in last month.
As exciting as Induction Day will be this July, it’s always fun to look ahead and project the next group of superstars to will be immortalized. The Class of 2020 has a chance to be the classiest Hall of Fame group in baseball history.
Leading the charge on the 2020 ballot will be former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. ‘The Captain’ is a slam dunk. The only question is whether he will join former teammate Rivera and become the second player in history with 100% of the vote.
Nobody seems destined by BWAA voters after Jeter. Certainly not on the first ballot.
Curt Schilling recently received 60.9% of the needed 75% for Induction. Although trending in the right direction, there are no guarantees he’ll have enough traction to make it next year and may have to wait until until 2021.
On paper, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are two of the greatest ever to put on a uniform. However, there is a reason they received only 59.5% and 59.1% of the vote respectively. Their time does not seem to be coming in 2020.
This brings us to the Modern Baseball Committee who will meet later this year. One of the key names on that ballot will be former Atlanta Braves catcher-turned-outfielder Dale Murphy.
Although Murphy had cups of coffee with the Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies, he is remembered for being the face of the Atlanta Braves and Major League Baseball in the 1980s. This was the era of an explosion in cable television and Braves games being accessible on most days of the week for viewers all over the country. I am one of the “#tbs kids” who grew up idolizing Murphy.
The main knock against Murphy has been longevity. However, in the 1980s, only Mike Schmidt hit more home runs, only Eddie Murray had more RBI, and nobody had more total bases. In addition to being one of the great power hitting and run producing players of the ten-year span, he was also a star defensively, evident by his five Gold Glove awards.
Unlike Jeter, who never won an MVP, Murphy won the award in both 1982 and 1983.
But like Jeter, Murphy represented all of what is right with human decency and each player provided young people with a real role model.
Jeter played in the spotlight of New York City and flourished positively. His name was never in the news for any wrongdoing and conducted himself like a role model citizen. Whether talking about his effort, passion, or sportsmanship on the field or his personal character at all times, he was someone kids in the Bronx and all over America could look up to and strive to be like.
Before Jeter, Murphy provided a guiding light for all fans in terms of how he played the game, treated other people, and lived his life. Below is an excerpt from our 10,000 word story arguing why he should be in the Hall of Fame:
“One of the “requirements” for admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame concerns the character of a player. If Murphy is just on the border of the Hall of Fame or slightly below for making it, than him being one of the all-time great people of the game should tip the scales in his favor.
If there is an award given to someone with respect to their character you can bet Murphy has been honored for it, such as as being the 1985 winner of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. This award is given to a player who best exhibits the character and integrity of Lou Gehrig on and off the field.
In 1987 he was one of Sports Illustrated’s Sportmen of the Year. It was awarded to Murphy because he embodied the necessary “spirit of sportsmanship and achievement.”
The next year, 1988, he was honored with the Roberto Clemente Man of the Year Award. This is given to the person who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual’s contribution to his team.”
In 1991 he was the recipient of the Bart Giamatti Award which is given to the player who demonstrates “oustanding community service” and in 1995 he was the inducted into The World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.
Not only was Murphy a great player on the field, but he was an even better person off of it who represents the game of baseball better than most players in the history of any sport.”
Although there has always been division in America, the ultimate goal for most people I know is to do good and try to make the world a better place. Dale Murphy and Derek Jeter played the game of baseball at the highest level and both played the game of life at an even higher level.
How fitting would it be to have a Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend where the focus was a pair of players whose class and grace overshadowed what they did on the baseball field?
This would be good for more than just baseball.
Below is a song I wrote about Dale Murphy a few years ago. Jordan Harazin tinkered with the lyrics and professionally recorded this song in Nashville (where he lives and works as a musician). Enjoy.