When you picture Eddie Murray, it’s as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, right?
After all, Murray turned into a superstar there in Baltimore, taking throws from Cal Ripken, Jr., for more than a decade, shortstop-to-first base, and wreaking havoc on opposing pitchers.
But even legendary marriages don’t always last, especially in baseball, where the next pennant is just a clever trade or shiny free agent signing away.
And so, in December of 1988, the O’s traded Murray to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Juan Bell, Brian Holton, and Ken Howell.
That first year in California (1989) was a mixed bag for Murray, as his batting average plummeted to .247, the worst he’d hit in a full Major League season. As usual, though, he showed good pop, hitting 20 home runs in big Dodger Stadium, and driving in 88.
The next year, though, Murray led all of baseball with a .330 batting average … but he didn’t win the batting title thanks to a hot start by Willie McGee of the St. Louis Cardinals, who then traded their fleet centerfielder to the Oakland A’s in August.
In the AL, McGee’s overall average slipped, but he had put up enough plate appearances in the NL to snatch the crown from Murray with his .335 mark.
Strange stuff that only baseball can give us, but Murray put together another fine season in 1991 before departing for the New York Mets in free agency.
From that point, Murray would stay in baseball another six season (1992-1997), making stops with five teams — the Mets, Cleveland Indians, Anaheim Angels, and return trips to the Orioles and Dodgers.
As it turns out, he didn’t remain in any of those cities as long as he had during his first L.A. tenure.
And, as 1997 dawned, Murray had cemented his legacy by gaining entry into one of the most elite clubs in baseball — 500 home runs, 3000 hits. At the time, the membership roll listed just Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Eddie Murray.
Heading to Anaheim, then, anything Murray did would be gravy.
At 41, though, there wasn’t much left in the tank — he managed to hit just .219 with three dingers before the Halos cut him loose in August.
Less than a week later, an old friend came calling, and Murray headed up the freeway, back to the Dodgers.
Murray proved to be an immediate good luck charm, as the Dodgers made up a two-game deficit in a matter of days after the signing, taking over first place from the San Francisco Giants as August waned.
By the time Murray actually took the field for L.A. in September, the Dodgers’ lead stood at two games.
Alas, it wouldn’t last.
Steady Eddie made it into nine games for his new/old team down the stretch, hitting a respectable .286 in nine trips to the plate as a pinch hitter, but the Dodgers would squander their lead by the middle of the month.
In Murray’s very last at-bat, on September 20, he grounded into a double play to finish off a loss to the Colorado Rockies.
He became a free agent in October and decided to hang up his spikes.
But card collectors, at least, hadn’t seen the last of Eddie Murray.
Because, while most players who called it quits before the end of a calendar year didn’t usually appear in the next year’s sets, Upper Deck decided there was a place for Murray in its 1998 base set.
So there, on card #401, Murray gets a Final Tribute, busting out of the batter’s box — for the Dodgers — one last time.
Find Eddie Murray cards on eBay (affiliate link)
Find Eddie Murray cards on Amazon (affiliate link)
Wanna know how you can tell an Eddie Murray card is fake? When he’s smiling!
See and hear the full silly story on YouTube right here.
If you want to test your luck in finding a Murray crown jewel, then this eBay lot might appeal to you:
That’s a full unopened box of 1978 O-Pee-Chee wax packs … a set which just so happens to contain the Canadian version of Murray’s Topps rookie card.
Is there an Orioles Hall of Famer waiting inside??
Check out the full listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).
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