For more than two decades, Eddie Murray was everything a Major League manager could want in a player — steady, consistent, durable and dominant. Starring for the Orioles, Dodgers and three other clubs from 1977-97, Murray is remembered as the most dependable player of his era and one of the greatest switch-hitters to play the game.
Here are the top 10 moments of Murray’s career:
1) Enshrined in the Hall of Fame
July 27, 2003
The man nicknamed “Everyday Eddie” gets his day in Cooperstown — and becomes immortal. Enshrined with 85.2 percent of the vote, Murray was elected on the first ballot on the heels of his decorated 21-year career. And with good reason: nobody in history played more games at first base (2,413) than Murray, who won three Gold Glove Awards there to go along with 3,255 hits and 504 home runs. He is the only switch-hitter in history to achieve both those totals.
2) Joining the 500-homer club
Sept. 6, 1996
When you’re part of a group that included (at the time) only Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, that’s good company. Murray joined those ranks down the stretch in ’96, shortly after returning via trade to Baltimore, where he spent his first 12 seasons. Connecting off Detroit righty Felipe Lira, Murray socked career home run No. 500 in the seventh inning of a rain-delayed 5-4 loss to the Tigers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Having already reached 3,000 hits the previous season, Murray joined Mays and Aaron as the only players with 500 homers and 3,000 or more hits with the blast. Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols have since joined the club, but Murray’s achievement remains only of the most exclusive in baseball history.
3) Earning a ring
Oct. 16, 1983
In 1979, the Orioles fell one win short of a championship. In ’82, they missed the postseason by one game. By ’83, they were hungry and talented, led by in-their-primes Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. The result was perhaps Murray’s best individual season and his only championship, as the Orioles beat the Phillies in five games for the ’83 crown. Murray was typically productive in the World Series, homering twice Game 5 to seal it for Baltimore.
4) Hit No. 3,000
June 30, 1995
A little more than a year before joining the 500-homer club, Murray had already solidified his Hall of Fame resume. Though Murray never collected 200 hits in a season, he was remarkably consistent, totaling at least 170 hits 12 times. By June 30, 1995, all those knocks added up to 3,000 with Murray’s sixth-inning single off Mike Trombley as a member of the Cleveland Indians. At the time, Murray became the 20th member of the 3,000-hit club. He remains second in hits among switch-hitters, behind only Pete Rose.
5) Best in class
He was “Everyday Eddie” right from the start. Murray played 160 games as a 21-year-old rookie for the Orioles in ’77, hitting .283/.330/.470 with 27 homers and 88 RBIs to easily earn American League Rookie of the Year honors. Other hardware would become elusive later in his career, but the production never wavered. For Murray and the Orioles, it was a sign of things to come.
6) The 1983 season
What was Murray’s best individual season? That’s up for debate, given how remarkably consistent his peak was. But the strongest case is ’83, when, coming off a runner-up finish in AL MVP voting in ’82, Murray put together a near carbon-copy campaign the following year. Murray hit .306/.393/.538 with 33 homers, 111 RBIs and nearly as many walks (86) as strikeouts (90) in ’83, good for another second-place finish in MVP voting. He’d finish in the Top 5 of his league’s MVP voting six times, five between ’80-85.
7) 1995 World Series Game 3
Oct. 24, 1995
After 12 successful seasons in Baltimore, Murray spent stints with the Dodgers and Mets before signing with Cleveland in 1993. In his second season in Cleveland, he helped the Indians advance to their first World Series since 1954, homering in all three rounds of the ’95 postseason. Cleveland ultimately fell to Atlanta in six games, but received a clutch contribution from Murray in Game 3 in the form of an 11th-inning walk-off single.
8) First career homer
April 18, 1977
For any player, the first career home run marks a milestone. For a future Hall of Famer, even more so. Murray’s came in career game No. 8, a solo shot off Pat Dobson that proved the game-winner in Baltimore’s 4-3 win over Cleveland.
9) Deciding to switch-hit
That 362 of Murray’s 504 career homers came as a left-handed hitter wouldn’t have appeared possible early on: The Orioles drafted Murray as a right-handed-hitting first baseman, exclusively. Murray didn’t begin switch-hitting until his third professional season, at Double-A Asheville in ’75. Asheville manager Jimmie Schaffer spearheaded the idea, without the blessing of the Orioles’ front office. But Murray proved a natural. He found immediate success from the left side of the plate, and after the season he went to the instructional league to get more reps.
“That was the most important decision in my career, to switch-hit,” Murray said in his Hall induction speech.
10) 1981 home run title
Murray was always more of a complete hitter than a home run hitter — never hitting more than 33 homers in a season but hitting at least .290 with at least 25 homers seven times. He also hit at least 20 homers 16 times. One of those seasons landed Murray a home run crown: the strike-shortened 1981 campaign. Murray homered 22 times in 99 games that season to pace the American League.