Braves legend Dale Murphy falls short in latest Hall of Fame opportunity

ORLANDO — Back in January 2013, a two-time National League MVP expressed both gratitude and disappointment after garnering 18.6 percent support in his final year on National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Dale Murphy’s Cooperstown push, bolstered by a campaign driven by his children, fell short five years ago — leaving his Hall of Fame status in the hands of his peers.

Dale Murphy’s long wait continues.

On Sunday evening at the Swan and Dolphin Resort, the 16-member Modern Era Committee voted to induct Tigers greats Alan Trammell and Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame during next summer’s ceremony, leaving the Atlanta Braves legend and seven-time All-Star on the outside looking in once again.

Murphy needed at least 12 of the 16 votes to break through on a ballot that included past MLB stars Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Luis Tiant and former Players Association head Marvin Miller. Murphy received fewer than seven votes.

The Modern Era Committee presented a unique possibility for Murphy: three committee members and Hall of Famers — manager Bobby Cox, front-office executive John Schuerholz and pitcher and Atlanta broadcaster Don Sutton — arrived to vote at baseball’s 2017 Winter Meetings with obvious Braves ties. The committee also included Hall of Fame contemporaries of Murphy in George Brett, Rod Carew, Robin Yount, Dave Winfield and Dennis Eckersley.

Murphy stood as one of baseball’s prominent stars during the 1980s, capturing the 1982 and 1983 NL MVP awards and five consecutive Gold Gloves. At his peak, Hank Aaron tabbed him as the league’s best all-around player and his manager, Joe Torre, said, “To the purist, to the person who looks at all the little things he does, he is special. All he does is play baseball better than anyone else.”

That peak was short-lived, however.

Chronic knee problems hampered Murphy’s late-career production with the Braves, Phillies and Rockies, leaving him two home runs shy of the 400 Club. He never made an All-Star appearance after the 1987 season and he managed to play just 44 games in his final two seasons.

In a loaded field, Murphy’s JAWS score — a Hall of Fame metric that averages a player’s career wins above replacement with his seven-year peal — ranks 26th among center fielders all-time, well behind the likes of non-HOF names like Kenny Lofton and Jim Edmonds.

“That’s why they don’t put you in the Hall of Fame right in the middle of your career. … And that’s why it’s a debate. It’s subjective,” Murphy told FOX Sports South in December 2012. “There’s a lot that goes into it and a lot of pros and cons that people feel. I knew that going into retirement that that was going to be the case.”

Still, no player totaled more bases in the 1980s and only Phillies great Mike Schmidt, another Hall of Famer, tallied more home runs in Murphy’s prime decade. Among retired players to have fallen off the writers’ ballot, only Murphy, Roger Maris and Juan Gonzalez claim multiple MVP awards without a plaque in Cooperstown.

Despite another setback for Murphy’s Hall of Fame push, the Braves franchise will be represented in Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer.

Another Braves legend, Chipper Jones, will more than likely be tabbed as a first-ballot inductee. The 1999 NL MVP and longtime face of the Braves franchise during its heyday will be notified of his status — along with defensive wunderkind Andruw Jones, whose name also appears on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot for the first time — next month. This, of course, follows a steady pipeline of Braves inductees in recent years from ace pitchers Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine to manager Bobby Cox and front-office executive John Schuerholz.

Murphy will be eligible for the Modern Era Committee’s 2019 ballot.

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