Dale Murphy talks with reporters outside the Pensacola Blue Wahoos clubhouse last Wednesday night as a handful of fans watch on, their eagerness unmistakable as they wait for the chance to have the former Atlanta Braves star sign an autograph.
Murphy is still a big deal even if it has been more than two decades since he last played a Major League game. Serving in an unofficial advising role on a part-time basis for the Braves, he’s in town to take a look at the talent the Double-A Mississippi Braves have on their roster.
“It’s hard to imagine it’s been 23 years since my career ended. I think sometimes it shocks Braves fans that it’s been that long,” Murphy said. “I’ve done a lot of things in my retirement, speaking, coaching and now I’m doing work with the Braves. It’s a lot of fun watching the young guys play.”
Murphy is 60 but still remembers what it was like to be a young player chasing his Major League dream. He made his MLB debut at age 20, appearing in 19 games as a catcher for Atlanta in 1976. Two seasons later, he was playing first base for the most part and hit 23 home runs.
By 1980, he had switched to the outfield and it was the start of a decade of greatness. He was the MVP of the National League in 1982 and again in 1983, he won the Gold Glove five-consecutive years and was the Silver Slugger Award winner in the NL four-consecutive years.
Murphy was also a seven-time NL All-Star and hit nearly 400 home runs (398) in his career while batting .265 in his career. He played his final game in May of 1993 with the Colorado Rockies.
“I miss the competition,” Murphy said. “It didn’t always work out the way you wanted it to. Sometimes you got beat. But I did things the right way and there was a sense of accomplishment for me.”
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