Cardboard Connection’s Interview with Dale Murphy
Doug: Our first guest is right on schedule, so I don't want to keep him waiting any longer. I want to introduce everybody. You guys know who he is, like I said at the beginning of the show. Two-time NL MVP seven time All-Star, ballplayer, author, father, Mr. Dale Murphy. Dale welcome to our show.
Dale Murphy: Hey, thanks for having me on guys.
Doug: All right, it's our pleasure, are you kidding? We all followed you and your career was stellar. I don't know if you caught the first part of the show, but we were discussing your lack of entrance into the Hall of Fame and we all think it's criminal.
Dale Murphy: Well, I appreciate that. I'll be honest with you, I'm always kind of...It's an honor to be considered. I have some people that are very supportive. Obviously I don't have enough baseball writers, but to be honest with you, I thought I'd get more percentage. I'm not discouraged or anything. I don't think I'm going to get in the normal way.
If I do get in, it's going to be through the veterans committee or something. But, I thought I would get more, I don't think I've hit 20 percent. I understand that. I knew it would take a long time if it happened.
To be honest with you, I thought I would get a higher percentage, but it's OK. I'm fine. I understand some of the concerns. I appreciate the people that are very supportive. Anyways, we'll see what happens. But I appreciate it, thanks guys.
Doug: No problem. Just so you know, I'm Doug. You're also on the line with Rob and David.
Dale Murphy: OK. Good, good.
Rob: Dale, this is Rob. One of the things that has been a knock by some of the writers is that, in the last three years of your career, when you were battling on and off with injury, your average took a dip.
Now, one would have to ask then, would you, looking back, trade the last three years of playing ball if it guaranteed your entrance into the hall?
Dale Murphy: That's a good question. I've never been asked that before. No, because I thought '80...I can't remember when I really started struggling...'87 obviously was a good year in Atlanta. '88 struggled a bit, '89 and then '90 came along, I really started struggling.
I thought the trade would be good and I really did feel good. I needed kind of a boost. Felt good, then I went to Philly and I started getting hurt.
I came back and I felt great, then got hurt again. Actually, had some staph infection that a lot of people don't realize. But, I wouldn't. I would not trade that because I really felt good prior to the injuries, it's nothing you can anticipate.
It does bother a lot of people that I had quite a drop-off there at the end. That is one of the reasons. I was trying to battle through it. Eventually, in '93, I knew it was time. My knee wasn't feeling right. I was in Denver and I was only there for a couple of months.
It looks like I kind of pushed it a little bit, but I really didn't. Once I knew for sure that it wasn't going to recover, I called it quits. I can't really change from what I was thinking at that time. I felt good. I felt like I could be productive, but then eventually I realized that wasn't going to be the case.
Doug: I think that you tried and that... was one of the things that... I actually lived in Atlantic City when you were in Philly, I saw you play a lot and that was one of the things that I always admired.
Even knowing that you were struggling with injury, you still battled and wanted to play. You made the effort, where a lot of guys would just sit out in today's game. I think that attitude alone and that mentality that you had of wanting to play, I thought that would garner some additional interest with some of the reporters that are voting.
Hopefully, like you said, things will change and we'll get you in there, but right now, be honest, you're not in bad company, right? I think we were talking the only other two-time MVP is Roger Maris, that's not in the Hall of Fame? When you put those two in the same sentence, that's good company.
Dale Murphy: Yeah. I appreciate you saying that and I do appreciate the chance to be in that company. I should preface any remarks about the Hall of Fame by saying exactly what you guys are saying. There's a lot of guys. There are some guys that should be. I'm not the only one.
I think there's, I don't know if I can come up with them off the top of my head, but there are some guys that I don't understand why they're not in there. No one has been able to explain to me why Lee Smith isn't in there.
I'm not the only guy, you're exactly right. There's guys that I think have a lot better case than I do. Like I said, I can't come up with enough off the top of my head but there's a lot of guys that I think should be in.
David: Now Dale, this is David. I got a question for you, we were talking about, and this kind of leads into my thinking, coming up. I know the reason why most guys get squeezed off the ballot is because writers can only nominate a certain number. Now, every year, with more people becoming eligible, you're starting to see the list thin out.
What are your thoughts on the guys now, the writers now are going to have to start justifying some these people they put on the list, as opposed to people they leave off, especially when we're getting into the era where the questionable playing, the questionable usage of enhancers and things like that by players.
You're going to have to start explaining "Why does player X belong on the ballot when he's going to eliminate player Y who was part of the 'clean era'?"
Dale Murphy: Excellent point. We're going to have to see. It's going to be an interesting situation. I don't know. I don't want to pretend like I know all of the ins and outs of the voting and requirements and things like that and how guys get on.
I will say a couple of things to it, and you guys can tell me if I'm off base. I agree with you. Generally, what you're saying is that we've got to change some things. It's a little hard. It's always hard for a group to admit that, yes, they've got to change.
It's easy for us on the outside to see some things that probably would be better off if they changed them. It's also hard for me to say, because it would benefit me if they changed them. Having said that, I think a couple of thoughts.
One, I think our Baseball Hall of Fame would be enhanced. You could put 50 more guys in, and you'd still have a real, real, small percentage of the guys that have ever played the game. It's a great PR thing for the game of baseball. It can be used that way, I think. I know the argument is, "Dale, you're starting to water down the Hall of Fame."
I think if you still put some guys in there, it wouldn't really be watered down. The game needs good PR. We need to market our game. I think the Hall of Famers could do that. Let's get them out there selling this game.
There are a couple of things I don't quite understand. I know they have some votes, and sometimes it would be helpful if they used them all. I don't think they're required to use all their votes. I think that would have them make a decision. I think there was a situation last year where someone got a vote as a courtesy vote.
It was just a compliment, and so I think there's some things. I can't speak for the details, but I would agree with you, from the outside looking in, it would appear that there would be some good changes to be made.
Rob: You talked about marketing the game and it kind of led me into a next question. Even on your Wikipedia page, we were talking about the fact that it looks like you're signing a baseball card, or something like that.
Do you work the auction circuit? Do you like it? What has been some of your experiences, first hand, with collectors?
Dale Murphy: I'll tell you when I first got out of the game you have a little hold over I think, at least I did, while you're playing. How do I say this? You have your privacy, your signing, I'll just be honest with you do it all and you don't really think about it because you're trying think about playing.
After I got out of the game for a couple of years I was like, "No, I'm not going to do the shows and things like that." Then, I decided, "Well, I'm going to try a few."
I didn't know what to expect I really hadn't done a card show, per say, or dealt with collectors while I played. I just didn't have the time. I would also be disingenuous if I didn't say that the fact that you can make some money as a player, as a retired player is something that's attractive, as well.
Dale Murphy: I thought, "OK, I'm going to try it."
My first experience, I don't remember when it was, about three or four years after I retired, maybe not that long. But anyway, this is a great experience because number one the people that I met at the shows were excited just to meet me.
I'm living in Utah. I don't get out all over the place. I travel a lot more now doing some things. They just said, "Hey, thanks for coming." They were excited and also thankful to see someone who collects likes to see it signed in person, that's a little bit of an extra thing there.
I've had nothing but good experiences really. Just being with people, going to Chicago or New York, places where, obviously I don't get there too often. It's a lot of fun. It's the typical thing. After you get away from the game and you get older, you appreciate it more than you did when you were younger. It's fun to interact and talk baseball with other people.
Doug: Very cool. That's a great answer and thanks for sharing that. You know you're, kind of, a hobby enigma. I don't know how much you know about your own trading cards or how much you're into that or if your kids got into collecting you.
As a rookie card collector you are one of the very few people that actually have two legitimate rookie cards. You had a 1977 TOPPS card and a 1978 TOPPS card and both were rookie prospects cards, unlike where most guys have one card. You shared a card twice and not too many people were able to do that.
Dale Murphy: Right.
Doug: I didn't know if you were aware of that or not. Does that come up at shows? Do people talk to you about that?
Dale Murphy: Well, you know, I didn't realize it was that unusual. I was supposed to make the team.
Dale Murphy: That was the problem, and I think I was supposed to make the team, and I went back to Richmond and AAA in '77. I kind of messed things up, but...
Dale Murphy: I haven't really talked to people in detail about it, but I know that that is the case. Yeah, it's kind of unique.
Doug: Absolutely. It's funny because, you know, they have a term in the industry now, when you have a rookie card and then you have what they call an "XRC". As far as I'm concerned, both of your cards are legitimate rookie cards.
I don't know what the other guys, Dave or Rob think, but I chase both of them. I have both of them in my collection. I thought it was a very cool little anomaly of the hobby that you don't see too often.
Dale Murphy: Well, that's interesting for me to know, because every once in a while people say, "What would"...When people ask me, I can tell them that they're the same? They're both rookie cards? There's really no difference, as far as the industry is concerned?
Doug: Well, I mean, they're different years...
Dale Murphy: Right....so, if you were to look them up, they're both considered rookie cards?
Dale Murphy: That's interesting. Yeah. I didn't know. Now, what about my reverse negative? What's the story on that one?
Doug: That card is a humongous error chase card too. It's funny because, if you really think about it, your hobby lore is only as grand as your baseball career. I mean, it's pretty cool actually. That was just an error and it was very, very hard to find.
It got pulled quickly, and it's still a chase card that collectors seek after, to have that...because a lot of collectors have that mentality of, "I got to have everything. I got to have every card," whether or not they consider it part of the base set or not.
They want the error and the correction. It's one of those...
Dale Murphy: That's cool.
David: It's one of those things that they got to complete.
Dale Murphy: Yeah. Let me ask you this. I got a question for you. Occasionally, people will just try to skirt licensing and throw out a card. Well, not so much anymore, but it did happen to me once.
I was on the cover of the "Sporting News," and I was holding a bat that was on fire. That hot hit or something like that, well that picture ended up on...someone made a baseball card out of it.
Doug: But it wasn't like a TOPPS or and Upper Deck or a Fleer card, it was a bogus manufacturer?
Dale Murphy: Yea, just somebody did it. I can't remember. My agent tracked them down and said, "You can't do this. Not only do you not have our permission, but you don't have Major League Baseball's permission. You can't do this".
The guy goes, "Oh OK, well what do you want me to do?" My agent said, "Well just give us your cards".
It got out that I had these things pulled because of the fire and that it was too dark. That it was this dark picture. That it didn't fit my image or something like that. I was like, "No, it was on the cover of Sporting News that same image."
But it was just kind of interesting. I don't know. I've never seen one. It was just a little company, it might have been in Atlanta. I thought that was an interesting story.
Rob: Now, you've got eight kids and we were kind of debating before the show. One of your kids has had to open a pack of baseball cards, I would imagine. Do any of your kids, have they actively collected or still collect?
Dale Murphy: Well, no. They did when they were younger, but along with Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon and stuff like that. I think if I had been, which I'm kicking myself now, probably a lot of guys are. I have a lot of my stuff and people have given me a lot of stuff. But I wish I had done a better job of collecting stuff and preserving stuff while I played.
Probably, if I had done, that my kids probably would have picked up on that and been a little bit more anxious. But I don't really remember a story about them opening up and saying, "Hey Dad, I got you."
Rob: "Here you are."
Dale Murphy: Yea, that would have been weird for sure. Here's a little anecdote. This probably happens a lot, not a lot, but some guys could probably relate to this that played baseball.
I got a few guys to sign things for auctions and stuff. I'm out in my yard in Roswell, Georgia one day and I look over in the shrubs and there's a ball. The kids were out playing ball. I go in the shrubs and I pick it up and look at it and its got Nolan Ryan's signature on it.
David: Aww, and they're playing with it.
David: It's like "Sandlot".
Doug: It is like "Sandlot" with the Bambino. That's crazy.
Dale Murphy: Yea.
Doug: That is crazy. Well I got to tell you I think it's cool that you have a familiarity with it.
A listener was actually telling us a story about how he saw you signing one day and about how you were almost ambidextrous, you were signing with both hands. Is that true?
Dale Murphy: No, no. I write left-handed and it really throws people off because I hit right-handed and I threw right-handed. People assume that I write right handed, so when they see me write left-handed they assume I'm...
I've heard that before because they say, "So, you sign both right-handed and left-handed." I say, "No, just left-handed." I think sometimes rumor got out that, I've heard that before, I can sign with both hands. No, I can't.
Rob: That's interesting. I never knew that. I mean, when you were younger did you have teachers or parents try to correct that out of you because they thought you were right-handed and so they kept putting the pen in your right hand? How did that work out?
Dale Murphy: Well, my mom was left-handed and they made her change. When I started writing left handed as a kid she said, "No, just forget it. Let him write." I have a right-hander's slant on it. I've got my arm all twisted around so it feels kind of normal. When I see pictures of me signing I'm like, "Man that looks weird." But I try to give that right-handed slant.
Rob: That's why you never were a pitcher is because your arm was already screwed up from signing, huh?
Dale Murphy: That's right. My parents should have stopped me from throwing right-handed. That was the problem. I'd still be playing if I was a left-handed pitcher.
Anyway, this brings up another topic. Just talking with people the other day, we were talking about our kids. Our kids, they don't even teach cursive, I don't think. Our kids don't have handwriting and I'm sure you guys have talked about this, probably way too much, but the signatures and the autographs nowadays are really remarkable.
You know, it just dawned on me that it's not their fault. I mean, it is their fault to a certain extent. I have another story and I don't want to take up all of your time.
Doug: No, no. You're OK.
Dale Murphy: Just go ahead and stop me. I'm just sitting here watching the Braves Dodgers game.
Anyway, I think to a certain extent it is their fault. The guys could take their time and write their name so it's legible. In school kids are not really learning cursive.
I heard a really cool story about Harmon Killebrew and I think it was Kadire. I can't remember who the player was but they were at an autograph show with the Twins. It went about five current players and then Harmon and then some other players.
Harmon would get the baseballs, the programs, and the stuff that the guys were signing and he got one baseball and he stood up and went back to, again, I think it was Kadire. He said, "Hey, if you're going to sign your name make sure people can read it. If you sign one more ball like this, I'm leaving."
Doug: That is awesome! That is awesome!
Dale Murphy: Again, I'm not sure exactly which player it was but they said, "Yes, sir." But they really appreciated Harmon saying that. If you're going to sign it make sure people can read it.
Dale Murphy: I'm sure that's a big topic.
Doug: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Dale Murphy: I wish guys would take their time a little bit. I don't know what the deal is.
Doug: Sometimes, like you said, I don't think they.
David: Yeah, that's the thing. I'm becoming an autograph collector, sort of, and the thing that I look for are nice looking autographs, not necessarily players I collect or players I like but interesting, nice looking autographs that's what I look for. These guys with a stroke and a slash of a pen, you're right it kind of ruins it, especially when you pull it from a pack. It's like, "Wow that took a whole half of a second signing it." That's awesome
Dale Murphy: Right.
David: Then, you look at the care that some of the guys put into it. It's almost like you have that, when you're a kid and you think, "I'm going to be a big leaguer some day," so you'd spend Saturday afternoons practicing your signature so that you had a great signature.
Dale Murphy: That's right. I've seen some of my autographs and I know I've signed them before BP and I know it's not very well done. I know it's not always like that but it's tough to get a team ball nowadays and just not know who it is.
Anyway, that's just another thing for us old retired guys to complain about these guys.
Doug: I wanted to ask because you're mentioning being retired and guys like Harmon, what are you doing today? I mean, are you still involved with MLB at all? I know you had some charity organizations and I know you were working with the church. What do you do with your off time now?
Dale Murphy: Yeah, I've got a lot of things going on. For three years, '97 to 2000, Nancy, I and our kids we lived in Boston actually. I had a great experience there supervising the Mormon missionaries there in Massachusetts. That was a great privilege and a thrill and a great place to live for three years.
But since I've retired, I mostly enjoy speaking. I share things I've learned from baseball. I'm speaking to a group Friday in Atlanta. Then, also, this weekend I'm doing some things with the Braves that they've asked me to do this year. I'm doing some radio and some TV for the Braves telecasts. That's going to be a lot of fun, kind of a part time contributor guy, so that'll be fun.
Then, I have some other baseball-related appearances, been through the southeast a little bit, some ballparks, and last week was in Charlotte, North Carolina. Just trying to stay busy, trying stay active. But nothing officially with the Braves, as far as coaching or anything with them.
Doug: Very good. Any more books on the horizon?
Dale Murphy: No, no. Nothing going on right now. I've got a few ideas, but nothing I could let you in on.
Dale Murphy: Nothing going on right now.
Doug: I was kind of waiting for the one where you gave kind of a hard-edged opinion on the use of steroids in baseball. I was kind of hoping to see that one. I don't know if that's in the works or not, but I'd sure love to see your take on that.
Dale Murphy: Well, yeah, you've mentioned, I have a non-profit I Won't Cheat Foundation, which is a character education foundation, which started from all the steroid issues, and all the things that happened.
It's just a frustrating time, and thought kids need a different message, that they don't need to cut corners and bend the rules to be successful. I've been pretty outspoken about it. I think baseball has done some really good things to change the culture, and I think we made some progress, a lot of progress.
Doug: Absolutely. I don't want to keep you, because I know you're watching the game, but would you take a couple calls?
Dale Murphy: Sure.
Doug: OK, let's bring a couple of people on. Caller, you are on the air, on Cardboard Connection Radio, with the one and only Dale Murphy. Who's this?
Mike Smeth: This is Mike Smeth over at Cardboard Connection. I just wanted to call in. Dale, you were one of my favorite players growing up. I'm an Atlanta native. It's just an honor to have you, just appreciate your time, and you were actually the first baseball card I ever purchased.
I remember back in 1990, you gave me a lifelong complex with the Philadelphia Phillies when you got traded there.
Mike: I've had quite a big issue with them ever since. I can understand, but I remember as a kid being pretty torn up about that, because you're a big name everywhere, but down here in Atlanta, you are the Braves. You're definitely a special player.
My big question for you is, I think one of the things I've always liked about you is that fact that you have the foundation, encouraging children to not take shortcuts, to take the right way. You've actually been a real role model to kids, whereas a lot of athletes really aren't.
I was wondering, who out of active baseball players do you see as one of the good guys, that's really deserving of being someone that kids can look up to, both on and off the field?
Dale Murphy: Well, thank you, first of all, thank you. There's some people that are still upset at the Braves for trading me, but it was a mutual thing for me, going to Philadelphia. A lot of people just didn't realize it. I appreciate that.
I think it's really important for players to realize they're going to set an example, whether they want to or not. They will, so why not make it a good example? I follow the Braves very closely, and I'm a huge Brian McCann fan. I think he's really a guy that you could have your kids watch, how they play and how they go about their lives off the field as well.
I think Brian McCann. But there's a lot of guys. I think there's a lot of guys just don't get a lot of publicity, but I appreciate guys like Matt Camp, Jimmy Rollins with Philly, Hunter Pence is another guy that comes to mind. Just off the top of my head, those are the guys that I think about, that I appreciate the way they play, and the good example that they are.
Mike: That's interesting you bring up Brian McCann. I actually went to school with Jeff Francoeur for about 10 years, and graduated the same year as Brian McCann. He was a couple schools over. I know they're a couple of real good guys.
Dale Murphy: Yeah, and Jeff Francoeur would be a guy I would think of as well. I love the way he plays. It looks like these guys love to play, and they're good guys on and off the field. No one's perfect, we all mess it up, but these guys are trying hard to do a lot of good in their communities. Good stuff.
Mike: Thanks for everything you do. I have two daughters now myself, and it's good to be able to point to a player like you. If you're going to look up to somebody, this is the kind of person you want to look up to, not just because of what they do on the field, but off the field as well. That's just as important, if not more.
Dale Murphy: Thank you very much. I appreciate that so much. Thank you.
Mike: Thank you so much, and thanks for taking my call.
Doug: You bet. We'll just take one more, and then we'll let Dale off the hook here.
Rob: I think this is actually Brent.
Brent: Oh, am I on already?
Doug: Yeah, but you're going to hold. Did you have a question for Dale Murphy, Brent?
Brent: No, I'll hold. Let the Dale Murphy fans continue. I like this.
Brent: Not that I'm not a fan, but I get my own time here in a few minutes, so I understand.
Doug: No, you're good. You're on, you might as well ask a question.
Brent: Hey, man, I'm thrilled to be on with Dale Murphy. That's awesome. I've got several of his cards in my personal collection, and very glad. I'd love to see him in some more recent releases with TOPPS. Get some autographs out there, Dale. Need to start signing for TOPPS, man.
Dale Murphy: Well, I'm ready! I did something that should be out, I guess it's this summer. I know I signed some things for them, so there should be something out there.
Rob: Was it cards or stickers?
Dale Murphy: I think I did some cards and some stickers.
Doug: What do you think about that? Do you like signing stickers, or do you not care? It doesn't matter?
Dale Murphy: Well, as a guy, I don't know. It doesn't matter to me. You guys not big on the stickers?
Doug: A lot of collectors, they don't like the stickers, because a lot of different things happen. When you get the clean surface of a card, your signature can be big. It can be bombastic. It can be that full clean signature that you were just talking about.
But lots of times on the stickers you've got to stay within that square parameter and sometimes you just can't do it. A lot of the times, the autograph will get cut off on the edges, and it doesn't look very clean when it's affixed to the card.
Dale Murphy: Right.
Rob: I also like the fact that the players touched the card. It's better than, "He touched the sticker, maybe."
Dale Murphy: Yeah, yeah. Well, good point. I can see that. Yeah, I could see that. I've signed some with Panini.
Brent: Oh, good, good!
Dale Murphy: They're out. These aren't big numbers. Panini was 100 some and TOPPS, I don't remember, a couple hundred.
Brent: That's good!
Doug: That makes them collectible.
Dale Murphy: Yeah. We don't want big numbers.
Doug: Yeah, when you sign 1,000 or 2,000, let us know, because then we know that the rarity's gone. If you sign 150, it's good.
Dale Murphy: They don't let you...do you guys not know how many I signed?
Doug: It depends on the release, because most cards today are sequentially numbered. If you have an autographed card, odds are it's going to have a serial number on the back. You'll know the regular version of the card might have 199 copies of it, so there's 199 autographs out there.
Then, it might have a parallel version that has 50 or 25. However many you did sign, they'll divide them up into the product, and it'll fill a slot, basically, against another player. Say for every 100 you sign, somebody like, I don't know, give me a name, Rob, that's going to sign 1,000.
Rob: Bret Saberhagen.
Doug: Yeah, Bret Saberhagen might sign 1,000. Exactly.
Brent: Marlon Byrd might sign 5,000.
Doug: That's right, Marlon Byrd might sign 5,000, that's exactly right. Or Joey Votto might sign 5,000, or Ramon Castro. That's really what it comes down to. It's good that you don't sign a lot, to be honest with you, because it keeps them rare and it keeps the demand there for your autographs.
Dale Murphy: Yeah, yeah. I see. Well now that you mention it, I don't want to say that number for TOPPS. I can't remember exactly what it was. It could have been 400 or 500, I can't really remember. But it wasn't in the thousands, I know that.
Doug: Good. Well, even so, even if they're stickers, odds are they'll probably divide the stickers up into several products instead of just one product. That's good.
That way it's a variety, because they've been doing a lot of high-end stuff lately, probably over 100 and 200 a pack, and some of the cards have been really beautiful. It'll be really good to get your signature on some cards, especially if it's part of their archives product that's getting ready to hit, which is kind of a tribute to the era that you played.
They're going to revisit some of those old designs. That'll be really cool if it's part of that.
Dale Murphy: Yeah, yeah. That'll be fun.
Brent: Dale, you are on the checklist. I haven't seen the autograph checklist, of course, just the regular checklist, so I'm sure that is one of the cards that you probably signed on card, which is great to hear.
Dale Murphy: Oh, OK. Good stuff.
Doug: Have we nerded you out enough that it's time to go?
Dale Murphy: No, no. It's interesting. It's interesting, yeah, for sure.
Doug: I want to say thank you for your time tonight, and it's a pleasure. We would love to have you back again in the future and find out what you're up to. Maybe when TOPPS' archive hits, and your autographs are out there, we can invite you back to join us again for a bit more talk. Everybody in our chat room is just bursting, loving hearing your stories.
Dale Murphy: Thanks guys. I'd love to come on again. Appreciate it.
Doug: Absolutely. Dale Murphy, everybody. Have a great night, Dale, and thank you again.
Rob: Thanks, Dale.
Dale Murphy: All right, guys, thanks a lot. Bye.