Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Orioles honor Murray

BALTIMORE - Eddie Murray was a Baltimore legend. He never went national.

Even though Murray didn't play his entire career with the Orioles, he's best known here.

The fans who gathered to watch the ceremony to unveil his statue on Saturday afternoon couldn't wait to hear from Murray.

"Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!" they chanted before, during and after his speech.

Four weeks ago when his teammate Jim Palmer was honored, he spoke for 26 minutes. Murray spoke for about nine.

"Wow, that's pretty special," Murray told the crowd when he looked at the statue.

"It looks like me," he said later.

Murray was the fourth Orioles Hall of Famer to be honored. Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver and Palmer have already seen their statues. Cal Ripken and Brooks Robinson will have theirs presented next month.

He grew emotional during his speech. His seven brothers and sisters were on hand.

"You knew it was coming," Murray said. "You still get a little speechless in seeing it."

Murray never hit 35 home runs or had 200 hits in a season yet he's one of only four men to have 500 home runs and 3,000 hits in his career.

"The further you get away from playing, it is special," Murray said.

He was the team's first baseman when it last won the World Series in 1983, left after 1988, and after a 7 ½ hiatus returned in 1996.

Known for his reticence for dealing with the media, Murray said he didn't regret opening up more.

"Playing was more important. If I didn't play well, you wouldn't want to talk to me," he said.

After a bitter ending with the team that went 54-107 in 1988, Murray forced a trade to his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers. It was fine with him that he wasn't with the Orioles for the whole of his career.

"I can't say sorry. My dad got to see me play an awful lot in L.A.," Murray said.

The chants of the crowd unnerved him at first.

"You cost me about 20 at-bats early in my in my career," he said. "You messed me up."

Later he said that he became so known because of the chant that even shopping became impossible.

"I had to find a 24-hour grocery store," Murray joked.

Ozzie Smith, a former high school teammate came for the ceremony and spoke briefly.

"I've never seen anyone more determined or more confident when the game is on the line," Smith said.

Palmer, Ripken, Brooks Robinson and Weaver all attended and were joined by several of Murray's teammates: Mike Boddicker, Al Bumbry, Rick Dempsey, Boog Powell and Ken Singleton.

Manager Buck Showalter and current Orioles Lew Ford, Adam Jones, Matt Lindstrom, Darren O'Day and Jim Thome were there, too. Thome and Murray were teammates with Cleveland.

Showalter was impressed with Murray's intensity.

"He brought an edge to his team," Showalter said, but he admitted he didn't know him well.

"I can't ever remember a conversation with him until here."

Murray's speech was short on specifics, but made it a point to thank Earl Weaver, who fought for Murray to make the team in 1977.

"I made him look smart, though," Murray said.

Murray played in three World Series: 1979, 1983 and 1995 with Cleveland.

"I wish I could have won more than once," he said.

Out of baseball now, Murray said it would be difficult to return. Young players often don't want to listen to his brand of candid criticism and they often listen to their network of coaches they've had since Little League.

"It's not that easy anymore," he said.

Murray's teammates often said that the man they knew was much different from the guy the press didn't know.

"It is about teammates," Murray said. "You go out there and pur yourself on the line for them."