Two days ago, Orioles Hall of Famer Eddie Murray received a sneak peek of the statue that would be unveiled Saturday in his honor.
With the switch-hitting Murray hitting from the left side, crouched low to the ground, bat barrel pointing to the sky in his signature stance -- complete with Murray's early-career trademark sideburns -- Murray thought it was a well-represented likeness.
Just four players in major league history to record 3,000 hits and 500 homers, Murray built his Hall of Fame baseball resume on his attention to detail. So he had two suggestions to sculptor Toby Mendez before the statue was created: To raise his back elbow, another signature part of his stance, and lose the batting gloves.
When it was officially unveiled before Saturday's Orioles game against Kansas City, and an orange sheet was pulled to reveal the masterpiece, Murray was caught up in the moment.
"You knew it was coming," Murray told reporters later. "You see it the other day. You look at it and you still get a little speechless."
The statue will now sit among the other Orioles legends in the courtyard above the bullpens in left center field, joining statues honoring Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver and Jim Palmer. Statues for Cal Ripken, Jr. and Brooks Robinson will also be unveiled later this season
Throughout the ceremony, the throng of fans that crowded the courtyard loudly chanted, "Ed-die, Ed-die". When he spoke, Murray joked that the cheer cost him about 20 at-bats when it began at Memorial Stadium, because it broke his concentration.
Among the speakers was Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, who was a teammate of Murray's at Locke High School in Los Angeles. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, manager Buck Showalter and players Adam Jones, Darren O' Day, Lew Ford and Jim Thome (Thome was a teammate of Murray's in Cleveland) were among the attendees.
Here's what the other Orioles legends had to say about Murray. (Frank Robinson did not attend the ceremony.)
Brooks Robinson: "It was exciting to see a young player like Eddie come to spring training, get inserted into the lineup and never stop hitting. I was amazed at his talent. He went on to have a fantastic career, joining Willie Mays and Hank Aaron with more than 500 homers and 3,000 hits. I have enjoyed getting to know him as a friend outside of baseball. He is truly a legend here in Baltimore and he is very deserving of this honor."
Earl Weaver: "From the time I saw Eddie Murray swing a bat, I felt sure her was going to be something special. I knew right away he was going to be a great asset to the Baltimore Orioles. His accomplishments over the years were way more than enough for his selection into the Hall of Fame, and being only one of four to have over 3,000 hits and 500 home runs puts him in a class probably no other player will reach. The statue the Orioles are going to unveil is well deserved.
Jim Palmer: "I know Eddie ended up playing with teams other than the Orioles, but he learned the game the Orioles Way. To think he is mentioned with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays indicated how complete a player he was. I am just glad he was wearing our uniform; he could help the Orioles win in so many ways. "
Cal Ripken, Jr.: "Eddie was the guy I really looked to when I was first called up. He was a great teammate and is a great friend. Seeing Eddie in the lineup at that No. 4 spot gave us all a lot of confidence and he always seemed to come through when we needed him. Eddie defined what it means to lead by example and I will always remember him as the leader of our teams and one of the most clutch hitters I have ever been around."