Murray Soaks In The Moment With New Statue
As one of 12 children growing up in California, Eddie Murray had to fight for everything he got. He learned to compete to be the best, to be inventive and to think on his feet.
He said he never could have imagined a day when he would stand in front of thousands of fans and watch as a statue of his likeness was unveiled. Murray drank the moment in Saturday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards as chants of "Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!" rang out.
"Nobody dreams like this," Murray said afterward. "Maybe they might do it now. As kids, when we played in the yard, we just played. Maybe you thought about playing on TV or you might be able to get a house, but that maybe was the max of what you might do."."
Murray, a 2003 selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, did more than just go on television. He is one of four players to ever hit more than 500 home runs and collect 3,000 hits. His 504 home runs are good for 25th all-time, his 3,255 hits are 12th and his 1,917 RBIs are 10th.
He was a seven-time Most Valuable Oriole and had two stints with the club. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1989 and returned to the club in 1996 and hit his 500th home run that season. He was also a three-time Gold Glove winner and played in more games than any first baseman in baseball history.
Known as a clutch hitter, Murray is depicted in the statue batting left-handed, waiting for the pitch. His knees are bending and his eyes are intense.
"I got to see it two days ago," Murray said. "They were putting the finishing touches on it. It's resembles and looks like me. It's really pretty cool."
Representing the team’s ownership, Louis Angelos emphasized Murray’s unselfish, team-driven approach.
"The club's trade allowed Eddie to return to the team who had drafted him and where had spent the most meaningful years of his career," Angelos said. "It reunited Orioles fans with the player who all but embodied and fulfilled our collective passion for Orioles magic and once again let us cheer him on with that signature 'Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!' chant that we heard throughout his career."
Murray was the fourth of six Orioles National Baseball Hall of Famers honored this summer. Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken, who were both in attendance Saturday, will be honored in September.
Robinson and Murray played together for one season – Robinson's last, in 1977.
"It was exciting to see a young player like Eddie come to spring training, get inserted in the lineup and never stop hitting," Robinson said. "I was amazed at his talent. He went to have a fantastic career. … I have enjoyed getting to know him as a friend outside of baseball. He is truly a legend here in Baltimore, and he is very deserving of this honor."
Earl Weaver, Murray's manager for several seasons and who was also honored earlier this summer, said: "From the time I saw Eddie Murray swing a bat, I felt for sure he was going to be something special. I knew right away he was going to be a great asset to the Baltimore Orioles. His accomplishments over the years were way more than enough for his selection to the Hall of Fame, and being only one of four to have over 3,000 hits and 500 home runs put him In a class that probably no other player will reach."
Murray said Weaver was one of the major reasons he joined the club during the 1970s after playing in the Orioles system for four years.
"I didn't get it right then, but I did hear about the fight him and Hank Peters were having over me," Murray said. "The first week, they had already signed me off to go back to Rochester. I drove in some runs in a couple of games back to back and the next thing I'm back in there."
Murray said he had having a pretty good week and then another pretty good week. Murray had plenty of good weeks as an Oriole, and proved to be a mentor to Cal Ripken Jr.
"Eddie was the guy I really looked to when I was first called up," Ripken said. "He was a great teammate and is a great friend."
Ripken said Murray batting cleanup meant the rest of the team would feel confident success was not far away.
"Eddie defined what it means to lead by example," Ripken said, "and I will always remember him as the leader of our teams and one of the most clutch hitters I have ever been around."
Murray, typically stoic, was emotional when talking about one of his early mentors, Lee May, and about missing now-deceased friends Elrod Hendricks and Cal Ripken Sr. Ripken Sr. was an influential figure for Murray in the minor leagues as a coach, showing the future Hall of Famer how to approach baseball every day with love and passion.
"It's hard talking about Elrod," Murray said. "It's hard talking about Lee May. It's hard talking about old man Rip."
Murray wasn't one to seek accolades, and still seemed amazed about what had happened in his life.
"I'm just thankful that I played on this level," Murray said.
Murray said anyone that thought his clutch hitting came from being on great teams was wrong. Looking around the room, Murray saw nine of his living siblings.
"These brothers and sisters in this room helped," he said. "You had to learn to really compete with them. It was fun. It made me see things at an early age that a lot of people don't see. We played games. We invented games."
Murray, a switch-hitting phenom, came to change a game as well. Although proud of the statue, Murray said he won't be visiting it much. He loves the fact that it will always be at Camden Yards nonetheless.
"It's going to be special," Murray said. "It's special."
Posted Aug. 11, 2012