With a lot of big names posting their favorite players growing up over at Baseball Analysts I thought I would get in on the action. Without a doubt, my favorite player was Dale Murphy. To a Braves fan born in the early 1970s, Murphy was about the only thing good about the Braves for so many years. You had to like the guy. While the Braves may have been 20 games out of the race, I could always follow Murphy in the home run race in the newspaper. My family didn’t have cable television growing up, so whenever I was in Atlanta visiting grandparents I glued myself to the TV to watch the Braves on WTBS. (I followed much of the 1991 and 1992 seasons on the radio.) Both of my grandfathers were big Braves fans, which is where I first got the itch. My uncle Andy gave me a Braves poster that hung over my bed for most of my childhood. It featured Murphy, Bob Horner, and Glenn Hubbard. Horner was to baseball as Chris Farley was to comedy: fat guy goes boom. Hubbard was, well I just remember his being featured on that poster turning a double play, clearly valued for his defense and his constant presence in the Braves lineup.
I think I liked Murphy so much not just because he was good, but because the Braves sucked so bad while he played for them. He just looked so much better than everyone else. I mean what was the point of having this guy on the team if you were going to be so bad? And just as Don Mattingly left the Yankees right before things got better, the same happened to Murphy. Bravesnation feels a little guilt over this. I think he should be in the Hall, though I’m not convinced that it’s a bias-free belief. Maybe I’ll take some time this year to make the case.
The other player for whom I have fond memories is Jim Thome. Thome played for the AAA Charlotte Knights in 1993, so I got to watch him play when I was home from college. This was a monster team, which featured Sam Horn batting behind Thome. Manny Ramirez even made a brief appearance on the team. I think Thome hit a home run at every game I went to. It became a familiar experience to hear the crack of the bat, see the ball sail over the double-wall into a Fort Mill pasture, and Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone” blaring as he circled the bases. At the same time I was enjoying a very good Knights season, I got to see the Richmond Braves come to town with all of their future stars. In one of the games I saw Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez, Ryan Klesko, and Tony Tarasco all hit home runs.
Anyway, those are just some baseball memories of mine that I felt like sharing.