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Murray hits major milestone, becomes 20th to reach 3,000


MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddie Murray became the 20th player in history to get 3,000 hits last night, and did two things he rarely does.

He showed his emotions on the field, then he spoke to the media.

"It was nice. It really was," said Murray, Cleveland's designated hitter, after his milestone hit helped set up the go-ahead run in the Indians' 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins before 27,416 at the Metrodome. "But I think there were people out there happier than I was."

Murray's 3,000th hit came in the sixth inning, as he slapped Mike Trombley's fastball into right field for a single.

Teammate Dave Winfield, the 19th member of the 3,000-hit club, caught the moment with his camera.

"I had it with me," Winfield said. "I said, 'Let me give him some mementos.' "

Winfield was the first out of the dugout to greet Murray. The rest of his teammates mobbed him. Then Murray smiled.

"To see Eddie Murray smile on the field, which was something because he rarely lets his emotions get out, made me know there was a level of happiness that was unique," said Ron Shapiro, Murray's longtime agent.

Murray, who walked and flied to center before hitting No. 3,000, is tied for 19th on the all-time list with Roberto Clemente.

Afterward, Murray downplayed the milestone, but clearly savored it.

"It'll become a lot bigger when I'm done playing," Murray said. "Three-thousand is a number. It's never anything I've really looked at. Wow."

Murray is the second switch-hitter to reach 3,000 hits. Pete Rose, the all-time leader with 4,256, is the other. Murray, 39, said he doesn't expect to catch Rose.

"How many years did he play?" Murray, an 18-year veteran, asked of Rose's 24 seasons. "He's got me. No chance at that one."

Numbers have never been a big thing with Murray. But he said is looking forward to 500 home runs. He's 31 short, but if he gets there he will join Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only players with 3,000 hits and 500 homers.

"I'm not going to worry myself about it," Murray said, "but it's something to get there."

Murray said he was more emotional at his first All-Star Game and playing in the World Series with the Orioles in 1979 and 1983. He seemed more pleased about retrieving the 33 baseballs preceding his 3,000th hit so he can auction them off to benefit Cleveland high school baseball.

But friends noticed a glow in Murray. It was a glow that revealed itself with Murray's post-3,000th-hit, on-field smile.

It was a smile his teammates drew out of him.

"He could let loose around them," said San Diego Padres vice president and former Orioles public relations director Charles Steinberg. "I'm glad they surrounded him because he could let loose with emotions."

After Murray's teammates left the field, the standing ovation from the crowd continued for several minutes. Murray tipped his batting helmet and cap.

"That was really neat when he pulled off both of them because I've never seen him do that before," said Murray's wife, Janice, with their 10-month-old daughter Jordan Alexandra, by her side. "That was for us."

The crowd kept standing. Then Murray raised both of his arms in the air to try as if to calm the fans. The cheering stopped.

"How 'bout his grace at the moment," Shapiro said. "That was a wonderful moment."

Murray has truly enjoyed his past two days in Minnesota. But, as he said, his friends and teammates have enjoyed them just as much, if not more.

He was 0-for-4 after homering and singling for his 2,998th and 2,999th hits Thursday but afterward went out to dinner with Winfield, Kirby Puckett and Shapiro.

"I was sitting at the table with 8,000 hits," Shapiro said.

Winfield and Puckett saw another side of Murray as he read to his daughter at the table.

"You could tell Puckett and Winfield were excited," Shapiro said.

Winfield, with 3,098 career hits, knows the pressures of going from 2,999 to 3,000 better than anyone.

Shapiro said Puckett, who has 2,199 hits, was awed by Murray's accomplishment.

"He was really hoping for this," said Shapiro, who also represents Puckett. "He said, 'Man, this is exciting.' "

Murray's friends came from all over to share in the excitement. Cleveland general manager John Hart, a former Orioles third-base coach, flew in from North Carolina, and Steinberg flew in from San Diego.

"He has been an incredible friend to me," Steinberg said. "I hope I can be as good a friend to him."

Cleveland also got into the moment, moving the countdown banner at Jacobs Field to Public Square, where the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra held a concert. The orchestra stopped playing last night each time Murray batted and turned on the Indians broadcast.

"Cleveland has just embraced this guy," said Indians public relations director Bart Swain. "It's unbelievable."

Everybody was happy to see Murray reach 3,000 hits. And, in a subtle way, so was he.

"Milestones are moments because they mark a lot of history, a lot of pain, a lot of effort," Shapiro said. "And Eddie's had them all."

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