Eddie Murray's name connotes clutch hits, consistent run production and the "Ed-die" chant that shook Memorial Stadium in the 1970s and 1980s. But it also connotes a cool, aloof figure who kept many at a distance.

His friends and former teammates and associates dispute that depiction, casting Murray, 47, as loyal, warm, principled and widely misunderstood.

"I have been with Eddie a long time," said Ron Shapiro, Murray's attorney and confidant since 1977, "and in terms of consistency of conduct and the goodness and totality of a human being, it's all there. I'm enriched by knowing him."

But many who dealt with Murray throughout his career have a hard time relating to such a vision.

"I still don't know what I did to make him angry at me," said ESPN's Tim Kurkjian, who covered the Orioles for The News American and The Sun and made hundreds of interview requests that were turned down by Murray over the years.

Which is the real Murray, the prickly enigma or the graceful gentleman?


"There is a private Eddie and a public Eddie, and they're different," said Orioles bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, one of Murray's closest friends for more than two decades.

The "Tale of Two Eddies" is a Baltimore sports soap opera, a mystery shrouded in speculation and happenstance.

There is, indeed, a "private Eddie," a mischievous, witty and relaxed man who lights up a room. That Murray was on display last month in Baltimore during a reunion of the Orioles' 1983 World Series championship team.

But years ago, Murray decided to shield that side of himself from the public. Naturally quiet and introverted, he was ill-suited to the fishbowl life of a public figure, then grew deeply distrustful of the conveyor of images — the media — after a 1979 article infuriated him.

His silence and the Orioles' fade to mediocrity and then despair in the mid- to late 1980s thickened a stew of negativity that included team management and fans.

Murray's supporters confirm the existence of a "public Eddie" who can be difficult.

"He can be moody," Hendricks said with a smile, "and he does carry a grudge. Sometimes people get the wrong impression. I've heard fans asking for an autograph, and he just basically blows them off. Then he laughs and says, 'Come over here,' and puts his arm around them and says, 'Give me that' [paper to sign]. He plays those games. Sometimes people get upset. I told him that. It doesn't faze him."

Murray declined to be interviewed for this article.

But Hendricks and others want it known their beloved "private Eddie" is as real as his luminous career statistics.

"He played for the Orioles for 12 years, and almost every day, either on his way to batting practice, or after, dressed in uniform, he would stop by the office to say hello and sit and visit," said Dr. Charles Steinberg, the Boston Red Sox vice president of public affairs, a Gilman School graduate who worked for the Orioles from 1976 to 1995.

"He had no interest in the baseball executives but total interest in the interns, the worker bees, the assistants. He just wanted to be part of the social group. He would sit around and serve as a matchmaker. One time the phone rang and he grabbed it and said, 'Public relations, this is Eddie.' No one would have believed it."

He was "a fun teammate, had a great sense of humor," said Mike Flanagan, Orioles vice president of baseball operations, who played with Murray from 1974 to 1987 in the minors and majors. Hendricks described him as "pretty good with a joke around the clubhouse" and "a mentor to a lot of young guys."