I’m more perturbed than I’m going to let on, but Dale Murphy just missed election to the Baseball Hall of Fame again. He received 43 votes, which amounts to 8.5% of the ballots. He needed 380 votes, or 75%, for election. At some point in the future, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America will realize that they can’t continue to ignore most of the stars of the 1980s.
When players like Dale Murphy and Ryne Sandberg continue to be ignored, there is something wrong. Player statistics were less spectacular in the ’80s, but that’s because the game was different. Murphy was near the league lead in home runs nearly every year throughout the decade. But there’s a big difference when the league leader hits 35 homers versus the 50+ for today’s star hitters.
A player should be judged on the merits of his accomplishments against those of his contemporaries, not against those who come after him. This is the same situation happening to Art Monk, who spent most of his 15+ years with the Washington Redskins. In 1992, he became the NFL’s All-time Receptions leader, passing Steve Largent. All-time leader. Monk was none too shabby compared to his contemporaries.
Consider these stats:
Receptions – Monk is now 5th with 940 and Largent is 8th with 819
Yards – Largent is 7th with 13,089 and Monk is 9th with 12,721
Touchdowns – Largent is 3rd with 100 and Monk is tied for 28th with 68
The only glaring stat is touchdowns. Largent had the benefit of being his team’s only legitimate target for the bulk of his career. Monk shared opportunities with the likes of John Riggins, Ricky Sanders, and Gary Clark. Monk waits for the Hall of Fame call that won’t ring. As for Largent? His career resides in the Hall of Fame.
Knowing that I’ve been let down by these votes for several years, I’m going to get sappy for a moment and quote myself.
I believe Dale Murphy will be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. It will be a magical day, with sunshine and laughter and cheers. I will be there and I’ll remember all of the joy I had watching him play. He defined my childhood and allowed me to grow into the beauty of baseball.
I still believe.
UPDATE: From Jayson Stark’s column about his Hall of Fame ballot, here’s what he had to say about Murphy:
Murphy: We don’t know what this guy did to deserve to have his vote total plummet from 116 to 43 in just four years. But apparently, this whole voting group wiped the ’80s out of its memory banks. Because in the decade of the ’80s, Murphy led all National Leaguers in runs and hits, tied Mike Schmidt for the most RBI and finished second to Schmidt in home runs. He also was a back-to-back MVP, a five-time Gold Glove winner, a 30-30 man, a leading vote-getter in the All-Star balloting and one of the great baseball citizens of modern times. That may not make him a Hall of Famer. But he’s sure the best player ever to fail to get 50 votes.