Things changed though in the 90's when Murphy decided to hang up his cleats. I was able to look at his lifetime stats and appreciate what he brought to the game. Simply put... I was shocked by the numbers.
Statistically, he dominated the 80's. During that decade he was in the top ten in almost every single batting category except: batting average, stolen bases, and on-base percentage. Here's a breakdown of where he ranked amongst his peers:
Home Runs - 308 (2nd - Mike Schmidt had 313 during the 80's)
Runs - 938 (4th)
Hits - 1,553 (5th)
RBIs - 929 (2nd - Eddie Murray had 996)
Slugging % - .491 (10th)
These numbers landed him on the National League all-star team 7 times. He also won back to back MVP awards in 1982 & 1983 and won 4 consecutive Silver Slugger awards (from 1982 to 1985).
He may have been known as a hitter, but Murphy could field too. He won 5 consecutive Golden Glove awards.
Off the field, he's always had a reputation of being a positive role model for people. He won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 1985 for his character and integrity both on and off of the field. In 1988, he won the Roberto Clemente award which is given annually to a MLB player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual's contribution to his team."
One of coolest stories about Mr. Murphy was published in a 1983 Sports Illustrated article. The article mentions a story about how he went into the stand to visit Elizabeth Smith, a 6 year old girl who lost her hands and a leg after she stepped on a power line. After giving the girl a cap and shirt, the girl's nurse asked if he could hit a homerun for her (reminiscent of Babe Ruth). He ended up hitting two homeruns that day.
In 1993 Dale Murphy officially retired from baseball. During his career, he played for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Colorado Rockies, and the Atlanta Braves. In 1994, the Atlanta Braves honored him by retiring his #3 jersey number.
Mr. Murphy may never be my favorite player, but he's another reason... I love the 80's.