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Ken’s Column: Dale Murphy deserved better

The 2019 Atlanta Braves appear to be well on their way to winning another division championship. They are currently in first place in the National League East and are several games ahead of the second-place Washington Nationals.

Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson, Mike Soroka and the rest of the Braves have an excellent shot of getting to the World Series and winning it this year.

From 1991 to 2005, the Braves won 14 straight division championships. If you include their two division championships in 1969 and 1982, along with their more recent National League East titles in 2013 and last year, the Braves have won a total of 18 division championships. They have won five National League titles and one World Series title since they moved to Atlanta in 1966.

Now that I’ve given you a history lesson, which I’m sure you didn’t need if you’re an avid Braves fan, I’m going to share with you an unintended but unfortunate injustice that was done to arguably the greatest player ever to wear an Atlanta Braves uniform: Dale Murphy.

According to Wikipedia, during his career as an Atlanta Brave, Murphy won two consecutive Most Valuable Player awards (1982-1983), the Silver Slugger Award for four straight years (1982-1985) and the Gold Glove Award for five straight years (1982-1986). According to baseball-almanac.com, Murphy hit over 35 home runs for four straight seasons (1982-1985). His best year as a home run hitter came in 1987, when he hit 44 home runs. For his career, Murphy hit a total of 398 home runs (19th in MLB history at the time of his retirement in 1993) and appeared in seven All-Star games.

Murphy accomplished all of this while playing on mostly losing teams. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to stick around to experience the Braves’ magical run in the early 1990s. That is a shame and, I think, an injustice. He deserved better. In August of 1990, Murphy was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for a pitcher named Jeff Parrett. Parrett was a decent pitcher and he did help the Braves win the 1991 National League Pennant, but Murphy did so much more for us. It’s hard to imagine him not being on the Braves teams of the early 1990s.

With the exception of the early 80s, Murphy endured so much losing, not only with the Braves, but also with the Phillies and the Colorado Rockies, who entered Major League Baseball as an expansion team in 1993. He deserved much better.

I realize that Murphy was on the downside of his career in 1990. To be fair, no one, not even the Braves themselves, could have foreseen what would happen a year later. Nevertheless, I still stand by my opinion that Dale Murphy should have been a part of at least the 1991 Atlanta Braves team. He deserved to be in the playoffs and the World Series. Who knows? He might have made a difference in the outcome.

Ken Gustafson is the sports editor for the Americus Times-Recorder. To contact him, email him at Ken.gustafson@americustimesrecorder.com, or call 229-924-2751.