Welcome back to BBTN, this week we’ll look at the #3, if you’ve missed any in the series – just click the link above that says “By The Numbers” and you can get caught up on #1 and #2. Usually, I pick like three players to represent the number in question. This week, we look at the face of the franchise in the ’80s. Also, my boyhood hero, so much so that I wore his number when I played baseball, and I was a catcher.
If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s Dale Murphy.
Dale Murphy played for the Braves from 1978 to 1990, when the Braves were one of the worst teams in the National League. This is in spite of winning the NL West in 1982, this was followed up with two second-place finishes. They either sat at the bottom of the NL West or just above the bottom in that 13-year span. Dale Murphy never got to know what it was like winning all those division titles.
He didn’t drink, smoke, he didn’t chase women. He was referred to as a Boy Scout because of his clean living. He won back-to-back National League MVP’s in ’82 and ’83. And he remains the only player in Braves history to win two National League MVP awards back to back.
Murphy was born in Portland Oregon and attended Woodrow Wilson High School where he was a catcher. He had a .465 BA at the end of his senior season. He was courted by Arizona State but instead decided to sign with the Braves when he was drafted fifth overall in the first round when he was picked fifth overall. After being drafted he reported to the Kingston Braves in the Appalachian League.
In 1977 he was promoted to the Richmond Braves of the International League, where he’d only play in 18 games before being called up to the big club in the waning days of the season. He’d make his debut at Dodger Stadium, where he would go 2-4 and two RBIs in a loss.
While in Richmond he had a problem, he couldn’t throw from his position behind the mound. The ball never going where he wanted it to. He knew it had to be something mental and that he could work his way through it. Offensively it was a different story, he hit .305 in Richmond. This would get him another September call up.
The following season he would stay with the club out of spring training as a first baseman. Where rookie manager Bobby Cox would find out that Murphy couldn’t throw from first base as well. So much so, that he lead the league that year in errors with 20. In 1979 the Braves traded for first baseman Chris Chambliss. Cox still wanted Murphy’s bat in the lineup and was moved to centerfield.
From 1982 to 85, he led the Majors three years and then led the National League as well in games played. He did not miss a game from ’82 to ’85. He would win back to back National League MVP in 1982 and 1983.
In 1990 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with pitcher Jeff Parrett who was the cornerstone of the deal. He’d play three years with the Phillies before being released, he would then go on to play one more season with the Colorado Rockies. He only played in 26 games and hit a slash of .143/.267/.391 in 49 plate appearances.
On June 13th 1994 Dale Murphy’s #3 would be retired and lifted to the rafters.