The last time the Braves were this bad was 1990, when they turned in their second consecutive 97-loss season. On Aug. 3 that year, the Braves shook up the Atlanta sports world when they traded two-time MVP Dale Murphy to Philadelphia.
This photo was taken in June 1991 when the Phillies came back to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and Braves honored him. Murphy, now 59, said he never forgot that day, adding, “I remember it was a very emotional because Atlanta was always going to be my home. But I always understood why they traded me.’’
While Murphy will always be one of the most popular players to play in Atlanta, his trade was certainly a sign that the Braves were breaking with the past. At the time of the deal, the club had moved David Justice, Ron Gant and Jeff Blauser into the lineup, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery were in the rotation and Kent Mercker into the bullpen.
Meanwhile, Murphy was 34 during the ‘90 season and struggling at the plate. In 93 games with the Braves, he hit just .232 with 17 home runs and 55 RBI. The trade yielded little. The Braves acquired reliever Jeff Parrett and outfielder Jim Vatcher.
Vatcher played in only 21 games while Parrett lasted for two seasons but pitched in only 38 games with a 2-3 record and two saves. He was not on the postseason roster in ’91 and was released by the Braves that December.
Murphy played a full season with the Phillies in ’91, hitting .252 with 18 homers and 81 RBI. He was hurt most of the ’92 season and was released by the Phillies right before the beginning of the ’93 season. He was picked up immediately by Colorado but played in only 25 games with the Rockies and retired.
While many feel Murphy should be in the Hall of Fame, the baseball writers who control the vote do not. He was on the ballot for the maximum of 15 years and the highest percentage he ever received was 23.2 percent (75 percent is needed) in 2000.
Murphy remains eligible for induction by the Veterans Committee, which is made up of Hall of Famers, executives and select members of the media, who can bring in special inductees who are no longer eligible for the baseball writers vote. But of the 29 players who won multiple MVPs that are not the in Hall, only Hal Newhouser has been elected to the Hall by the Veterans Committee. Still, because of Murphy’s strong numbers (398 home runs and 1,266 RBIs) and clean-cut image, he may eventually get the call.
In 2012, Murphy told MLB.com, “I think there are guys that I’m comparable to that are in. I think there are guys that I played in the same era with that should be in. I believe there is a spot there. It’s not a Hank Aaron spot or a Babe Ruth spot, but I think there’s a spot in there.’’
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