- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Eddie Murray got the call to the Hall yesterday on his first chance.
The longtime Baltimore Orioles first baseman, who amassed more than 500 home runs and 3,000 hits and led the club to the 1983 World Series title, was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame yesterday in his first year of eligibility.
Murray was named on 423 of 496 ballots (85.3 percent) cast by Baseball Writers' Association of America voters to become the 33rd player elected on his first ballot. Catcher Gary Carter, who was named on about 78 percent of the ballots, will join Murray at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in July in Cooperstown, N.Y. Players must be named on 75 percent of the ballots to gain entry to the Hall.
An announcement that normally would be received with unbridled joy came at a time of grief for Murray, however. His younger sister Tanja died last week after a long battle with kidney disease. Memorial services were held for Tanja Murray yesterday in Southern California. She was 38.
"I am thrilled by the tremendous honor of being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and joining the other greats of the game," Murray said in a statement. " Although I dedicated my professional career to the game, I have dedicated my life to my family. The elation I feel by being recognized for my achievements on the field is overshadowed by the anguish of losing someone so dear to me."
The announcement was all but a foregone conclusion for a man who became one of only three players joining Hank Aaron and Willie Mays to record 500 homers and 3,000 hits. Murray played the first 12 seasons of his 21-year career in Baltimore and returned to the Orioles in a July 1996 trade that allowed him to hit his 500th home run as an Oriole. His 3,255 hits rank 12th in major league history and his 504 homers 17th.
"He was the best big-game player, the best clutch hitter that I had seen not only on our team but on any in the decade we played together," said Orioles vice president and former pitcher Mike Flanagan, who played with Murray from '77 to '87. " He was a leader and a role model and all a teammate could ever be."
Murray broke in with the Orioles in 1977 and, with a 27-homer, 88-RBI season, earned American League Rookie of the Year honors. Murray became a staple in the middle of the Orioles' lineup, along with Cal Ripken, regularly knocking out 25-plus home runs and 100-plus RBI while playing an outstanding first base.
"Eddie was not only a great teammate, but he was a great friend as well," Ripken said. "When I first came to the big leagues, he really helped me out and showed me the way. His professionalism and the way he was there for his team and ready to play really made an impact on me as a young player."
In 1982, Murray put together his best all-around season with 32 homers, 110 RBI and a .316 average and followed it up with a nearly identical 33, 111 and .306 the following season. That season Baltimore won the AL East by going 98-64, defeated the White Sox 3-1 in the ALCS and beat Philadelphia 4-1 to win the World Series. Murray had two home runs in the Orioles' Game 5 series-clinching victory.
Although he drove in at least 75 runs for a record 20 straight seasons, Murray never won a league MVP award. He was, however, a eight-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner and was named most valuable Oriole seven times. Murray was traded to Los Angeles after a disastrous 1988 season in which the Orioles went 54-107. He played three seasons with the Dodgers, two with the New York Mets and 2 with the Cleveland Indians before getting dealt back to Baltimore in 1996. Murray finished his career with the Anaheim Angels and the Dodgers in 1997.
One of Murray's most memorable hallmarks was his consistency of all the players in the 500-home run club, Murray has the lowest season-best home run total (33). He did hit 25-plus home runs in his first nine seasons during a time when those totals ranked among the league leaders. The switch-hitter hit for average and power and was extremely durable, playing at least 150 games in 16 seasons. He holds the record for most games played at first base.
Another image he always will have is of a player who was something of an unknown to the public because of his virtually nonexistent relationship with the media. The writers did not hold it against him in the Hall voting, and for good reason.
"Eddie is misunderstood by some of the fans and members of the media," Ripken said. "The Eddie that I know always put his team ahead of everything else and went about his business in a manner that all players should follow."

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