Like a lot of kids growing up, my dad was my role model. But he was also a role model for thousands of other kids, because he was a talented professional baseball player who played with integrity. Now, I’m fighting for my dad Dale Murphy to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame where he belongs.
According to the Baseball Hall of Fame election rules, The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) vote players into the Hall of Fame based on their overall impact on the game of baseball. Half of this impact is based on a player's record, playing ability, and performance on the field. The other half -- which according to the BBWAA is equally important -- is based on his character, integrity, sportsmanship, and contribution to his team(s). When judged according to this multidimensional picture of what makes a Hall-of-Famer, Dale Murphy's resume more than qualifies.
His career statistics are comparable to (if not better than) many players already in the Hall, not to mention that everything he accomplished was done with utmost respect for the game and without performance-enhancing substances of any kind. His legacy continues to draw unmatched respect and admiration from players, coaches, and fans alike. Despite the artificially-inflated numbers of the steroid era, Dale's statistics alone have helped him receive enough votes to stay on the Hall of Fame ballot for 15 years. Moreover, his off-the-field achievements are just as impressive as those he accomplished on-the-field, creating immeasurable goodwill for the game during the 1980s and inspiring young people everywhere.
This year presents a critical turning point for Hall of Fame voting. Known steroid users like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens will be eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time, since they have been retired for five years. The question is, will use of performance enhancing drugs mean players are rejected from the Hall of Fame for failing to show good character, integrity, and/or sportsmanship? Keeping steroid users out of the Hall of Fame would send an important message to young athletes that performance enhancing drugs are not a ticket to fame.
This is also Dale Murphy’s last chance to be inducted. If character flaws can hurt a player's case by diluting the potency of their on-field numbers, then by that same token, high integrity and sportsmanship should help a player like Murphy’s case. If such a holistic judgment of every eligible player's career cannot or will not be made by the voters, then the "character clause" should either be modified or removed. There are very few (if any) eligible players with both inordinately high levels of integrity and strong career statistics that would alone put them above the threshold for serious Hall of Fame consideration.
Therefore, I am asking the BBWAA to take a stand for character, to follow their own rules of weighting character and performance equally, and to vote Dale Murphy into the Hall of Fame.