Eddie Murray Biography

Eddie Murray is a former Major League Baseball player who spent 19 seasons in the majors with five different teams. He is best remembered for his years as the first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, though he also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Anaheim Angels. At the time of his retirement in 1997, Murray was one of only three players in major league history -- along with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays -- to have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs in his career.

In fact, Murray was the only player to reach the 500 home run milestone having never had a single season of 40 or more round trippers. Murray also hit 19 grand slams, placing him second all-time behind Lou Gehrig, and only Mickey Mantle had more home runs as a switch-hitter in the history of the sport. In 2003, Murray was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Early Years

Eddie Clarence Murray was born Feb. 24, 1956, in Los Angeles. He was the eighth child of 12 and often joked that he didn't have to go far to find a pickup baseball game. Murray grew up playing Little League Baseball in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Later, Murray attended Locke High School in LA, where he was a teammate of Ozzie Smith.

Professional Career

Baltimore Orioles (1977-88)

Murray was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round of the 1973 amateur draft. After spending several seasons in the minor leagues, he made his major league debut in 1977. Murray played first base and outfield, hitting .283 with 27 home runs and took home the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

Murray was shuttled back and forth between first and third base in 1978, before settling in as the everyday first baseman in 1979. He would remain a fixture at the position until 1988.

In 1981, Murray led the American League with 78 RBI in a strike-shortened season. The next year, arguably the best in his career, Murray hit .316 with 32 home runs and 110 RBI. He also won the first of three consecutive Gold Gloves for his defensive prowess at first base.

The 1983 season was a memorable one for the Orioles, as they won their first World Series in 13 years. Murray was a huge part of this success, hitting a career-best 33 home runs and finishing second in league MVP voting behind teammate Cal Ripken, Jr. In the decisive fifth game of the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Murray hit two home runs to lock up the championship, four games to one.

Murray was named Most Valuable Oriole seven times during his tenure with the team and made the All-Star team seven times with Baltimore (once with the Dodgers). He won the Orioles' "triple crown" five times, leading the club in average, homers and RBI.

Although Murray continued to produce after his impressive 1983 campaign, the next few seasons saw the Orioles struggle to remain above .500. In 1986, Murray went on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring. In spite of the fact that Murray was the only regular on the team to hit over .300 for the season, the team's owner, Edward Bennet Williams, publicly blamed the first baseman for the team's decline, saying Murray "needed to stay in better shape and produce more."

As the team continued to lose, fans became more and more vocal against Murray, who refused to talk to the media. After the 1988 season, Murray requested a trade, and the Orioles were more than happy to accommodate him.

Los Angeles Dodgers (1989-91)

Baltimore traded Murray to the Dodgers in December 1988, in exchange for Juan Bell, Brian Holton and Ken Howell. Murray drove in an average of 93 runs over his three seasons in Los Angeles.

In 1990, Murray hit .330 for the season, which was tops in the major leagues. The following season, at the age of 35, Murray showed he still had life left in his legs as he stole 10 bases -- matching his career high.

New York Mets (1992-93)

Murray left Los Angeles after the 1991 season, signing a two-year, $7.5M contract with the New York Mets as a free agent. In his first season in New York, Murray batted .261 and hit 16 home runs, good for second on the team. His 93 RBI were 23 more than any other Mets player, but the team also lost 90 games.

The next season, Murray's individual stats improved, as he led the team in batting average (.285) and RBI (100) while finishing second to Bobby Bonilla in home runs (27). But the Mets continued to slide in the standings, finishing 59-103 on the season, their worst record since 1965.

Cleveland Indians (1994-96)

Murray was not re-signed by the Mets after his contract expired in 1993, so Cleveland took a shot with the veteran, signing Murray to a three-year, $8 million deal. Murray didn't disappoint, hitting 38 home runs over the first two years of the deal, notching a .323 batting average in 1995.

On June 30, 1995, Murray joined the 3,000 hit club with a single off Minnesota Twins pitcher Mike Trombley. The Indians made it all the way to the World Series in 1995 and, although the Atlanta Braves won, 4-2, it was Murray who drove in the game-winning run in Game 3 with an RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning.

Baltimore Orioles (1996)

In late July of the 1996 season, with the Indians looking to bolster their pitching staff to make another run at the AL Central Division crown, the team traded Murray to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Kent Mercker.

Murray homered in his first game back with the Orioles and once again endeared himself to the home crowd when, in September, he blasted his 500th career home run, at home, against Detroit's Felipe Lira.

The Indians and Orioles met in the 1996 playoffs, with Baltimore winning the divisional series, 3-1. Murray hit .400 during the series. Baltimore then went on to lose to the New York Yankees in the ALCS, 4-1.

Anaheim Angels (1997)

Murray was once again a free agent after the 1996 season, and he signed on with the Anaheim Angels. Unfortunately, there wasn't much left in Murray's tank. After playing only 46 games and managing only a .219 batting average, Murray was cut by the Angels in August.

Los Angeles Dodgers (1997)

Murray signed with the Dodgers, but, after seeing only seven at-bats the rest of the season, it was clear to Murray his time in the sun was over. He announced his retirement after the season.

Post-playing career

After retiring, Eddie Murray returned to the Orioles in 1998, serving as the team's bench coach and then first-base coach. He became the hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians in 2002 and served in that role until 2005. He then took the same job for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but was fired in 2007 (ironically, Murray was fired the night after the Dodgers claimed a 9-1 rout of the NY Mets in the NLCS, a series in which the Dodgers recorded 31 hits and 18 runs).

Legacy

Eddie Murray's number was retired by the Orioles after he left for Los Angeles in 1988. When Murray returned to Baltimore in 1996, they had to "un-retire" his number so he could wear it during his year with the Birds.

On July 27, 2003, Murray was inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Gary Carter. The two were teammates in 1991 for the Dodgers, though both were better known for playing for other teams (Murray the Orioles, Carter the Mets and Expos). Murray was elected in his first year of eligibility, receiving 85.3 percent of the vote.

A three-time Gold Glove winner, he holds the Major League record for games played and career assists by a first baseman.

Personal

Murray is married to wife, Janet, and the couple have two daughters, Jordan and Jessica. Murray always was a very private person and kept his relationships and family out of the spotlight.

All four of Murray's brothers played professionally. He credits his oldest brother, Charlie, signing a contract as the act that spurred he and his other brothers to pursue baseball careers. Four of his brothers brothers and five sisters all attended Murray's Hall of Fame induction in 2003.