Over the course of February, which is Black History Month, MLB Network and MLB.com are looking back at some of the most prominent African-American players in MLB history. Today, we look back on the career of Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, one of five players with more than 500 home
Over the course of February, which is Black History Month, MLB Network and MLB.com are looking back at some of the most prominent African-American players in MLB history. Today, we look back on the career of Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, one of five players with more than 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.
For more than two decades, Murray was a fixture among baseball's biggest stars. Playing in 3,026 games, sixth most in MLB history, the Hall of Fame first baseman wasn't just a steady presence in the big leagues, he was a remarkably productive one.
Murray is one of five players, along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro, to collect 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Over his 21 seasons, Murray earned eight All-Star nods, three Gold Glove Awards, three Silver Slugger Awards and won a World Series with the Orioles in 1983.
Murray's professional career began in 1973, when the Orioles selected him in the third round of the Draft out of Locke High School in Los Angeles. After four years in the Minors, he broke in to the big leagues with a stellar rookie campaign in '77. Murray debuted on April 7 and played in 160 games for the O's, batting .283/.333/.470 with 27 homers, 29 doubles and 88 RBIs en route to capturing American League Rookie of the Year honors.
Many of Murray's best seasons came during his first 11 years in Baltimore. A perennial Most Valuable Player Award candidate, Murray hit .300 or better in five of those seasons and made seven of his eight All-Star appearances while with the Orioles, who retired his No. 33 in 1998 and built a statue of him outside Camden Yards in 2012.
Murray competed in two playoff runs in his first stint with the O's, helping the club reach the World Series against Pittsburgh in 1979 and win it in 1983. Murray batted 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs in Baltimore's championship-clinching Game 5 win vs. Philadelphia.
Murray's initial O's tenure came to an end in December 1988, when he was dealt to his hometown Dodgers for Juan Bell, Brian Holton and Ken Howell. In 1990, Murray enjoyed one of his best statistical seasons, batting a career-best .330 with 26 home runs and 95 RBIs in 155 games, finishing in the top five in MVP voting for the sixth time.
Murray followed up his three seasons in Los Angeles (1989-91) with stops in New York, with the Mets, and Cleveland. With the Indians, Murray again competed for a championship in 1995, but the Tribe lost in six games to the Braves in the World Series. In '96, he returned to Baltimore in a midseason trade, helping the O's reach the AL Championship Series and batting .300 over two playoff series.
Murray finished his career close to home by splitting 1997, his age-41 season, between the Angels and Dodgers, retiring after his 21st campaign with a .287/.359/.476 career slashline, 504 home runs and 3,255 hits. His illustrious career made him a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2003, with his name appearing on 85.3 percent of ballots.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.