Sunday, June 24, 2018

At The Ballpark with Dale Murphy



Dale Murphy came to Columbia, SC on Friday night to talk some baseball with the media, throw out a first pitch and sign autographs for the citizens of Braves Country.

The highlight of the night for me came during his half hour meeting with the media. Murphy lived up to his reputation as being as classy as they come. Dale also loves to talk baseball. 

Here is the full audio of his question and answer session with media. It is really good. Murphy is really engaging and has some great baseball stories.

FULL DALE MURPHY AUDIO

If you don't have time to listen to the full audio, here is a synopsis of some of the things he talked about:

On Columbia, SC and Spirit Communications Park: 

 Dale was real impressed with the ballpark and said he was glad to be back in Columbia. Murphy talked about his memories of coming through Columbia on the Braves fan caravan tours every offseason back in the 80s




Greenwood, not Greenville:

 Dale talked about playing for the Greenwood Braves in 1975. He says many people think he played in Greenville where the Braves had a minor league team later on and he always has to correct them that it was in Greenwood. Murphy says he loved his time in Greenwood even if didn't play real well


His Advice to Minor Leaguers:

Dale said if these guys are not home sick and thinking about quitting then they are way ahead of where he was when he was just starting out in the minors. He said the key is to keep showing up and learning to play hard every day no matter how bad the previous day was for them. 

His Enduring Popularity:

Dale was quick to point out that his continued popularity is really because of TBS. He relayed a story about a guy coming up to him and saying he was a "TBS Kid". Dale went on to say the key to the TBS broadcasts were the guys in the booth. He said Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren and Ernie Johnson were just as part of the Braves team as any of the players were and they made the Braves the "local team" for the entire country. Murphy explained that for much of the 80s the Braves weren't a very good baseball team but those guys in the booth made them entertaining and they should all be in the Hall of Fame.



Jealous of the 90s Braves?:

 Murphy was traded in 1990 and he says he knew it was time to move on. He explained it is very rare for a guy to play his whole career for one team. He said Chipper Jones was the exception but most guy are like himself. He brought up great Braves like John Smoltz and Tom Glavine who also finished their career with other teams. He said he was a bit jealous of those great teams the Braves had in the 90s. He said that with a chuckle of course.  He said it would have been a lot of fun to be there and play on those teams but it just wasn't meant to be. 


Fernando and Maddux:

I have always been fascinated by what former players remember about their career. Some remember vivid details and some don't. Murphy seemed to be a guy who didn't really remember much about the specifics of his career. Dale said he doesn't really have a great memory when it comes to pitchers he did well against. He only knows what he has been told.

Fernando Valenzuela is the guy Murphy faced more than any other pitcher and Murphy knows he hit over .300 against him only because he has been told that. Murphy actually hit .318 against him with 8 homeruns which is tied for the most homers he has hit off a single pitcher in his career. Murphy also took Bob Knepper deep 8 times.

Murphy's memory becomes much clearer when the topic is pitchers he struggled against. I had done my homework the night before and I knew that Murphy went just 2-34 against Maddux in his career. Murphy talked about how most players tend to remember the guys they struggled against over the guys they did well against and he quickly brought up Maddux. When Maddux was pitching for the Braves, the retired Murphy would see him occasionally,  and would express to Maddux how he hated to face him. Maddux responded "I never got you out Murph, you got yourself out", Murphy then went in great detail with the media about what made Maddux so good. It was really fascinating to listen to.

Playing Past Your Prime:

I asked Dale what it's like when you play every day and then suddenly your skills aren't what they used to be. He goes into great detail about the mind of the aging ballplayer. It is one of favorite parts of the interview. He talks a lot about Chipper Jones and how he was able to stay productive as he got older. Check out the full audio for it. You won't be sorry.

If He Didn't Make it in Baseball...: 

Murphy talked about being home sick and wanting to quit at times in 1975 when he was struggling in Greenwood. He told himself he would give it five years. I asked Dale what he would have done if he didn't make it. You will have to listen to the audio to get the answer.


First Class Braves:

This is not on the recording but as we were walking around the ballpark he talked about the Braves organization and how they treat former players. He said any guy who has ever played for the Braves can call up and get a seat in their alumni suite with free food and drinks. Murphy explained this is not what most organizations do. He said he is really lucky to have played for the Braves and to still be associated with them.

Eat at Murph's: 

Murphy lives in Utah and is no longer working for the Braves in a formal capacity like he had done in the past. He cites his location and schedule as reasons. He said if he was living in or around Atlanta he is positive he would be working for the Braves in some capacity. While he is not working for the Braves he does have a restaurant just outside Sun Trust Park. He told me he has some great pictures in there along with the #3 that the Braves originally retired that was up in Turner Field. The restaurant is called Murph's.



Autographs:

Dale signed autographs for 90 minutes in the summer humidity of Columbia, SC. Braves fans were out in force with great memorabilia for him to sign and Murphy greeted every fan with a handshake, eye contact and then would thank each and every one of them for coming out to see him. I know he is getting paid but I have been to many autograph shows and so many of the athletes keep their head down and just sign. All pro athletes should watch how Murphy interacts with his fans. It is easy to see why he became so popular and why he continues to be so popular.

Once again check out the full audio here.

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