Today the chants of “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,” were again heard in Baltimore as Eddie Murray had his statue unveiled this afternoon in Legends Park in the left-center field area of Camden Yards.
The statue shows the Hall of Famer in a classic Murray pose from the left side of the plate, in that familiar crouch, ready to drive another baseball deep into the Baltimore night.
“The first thing I would like to say is, ‘Wow.’ That is pretty special,” Murray said, looking at the statue. “It’s an awesome thing to look out there today and see all that orange.”
Murray thanked many members of his family, his friends and his former teammates.
“Earl, thanks for fighting for me,” he said looking at Earl Weaver in the front row. “He had to fight for me to make this club. I made him look smart, though.”
The crowd laughed.
It was Weaver who fought for Murray to make the 1977 Orioles out of spring training and not go back to Triple-A. It was a season that would end with Murray being named American League Rookie of the Year.
“There are some people that were really special like Cal’s dad, ole man Rip,” he said of the late Cal Ripken Sr. “That man would overwhelm you with knowledge of baseball. I miss him.”
Murray also had special thanks for former Orioles Lee May and Elrod Hendricks.
“Lee told me, ‘Once you go out there, you’re out there.’ I remember one day I felt like I should be in the hospital and he wasn’t having it,” Murray recalled at a press conference after the ceremony. “He said, ‘You started playing out there and you’ll finish. You can’t do this to me.’
“He taught me how to teach and help my teammates. He would say on that field if anyone asked for help, you give it to them and that’s what I tried to do.”
Murray was asked if he wished he had a better relationship late in his career with the Baltimore media.
“Playing was more important,” he said. “If I didn’t play well, you wouldn’t want to talk to me.”
Former Orioles public relations director Charles Steinberg spoke at the ceremony and remembered how Murray would come into the Orioles offices and hang out with the non-playing staff in those days before he would head to the clubhouse for pregame work and the game.
“There were no walls, there were no barriers,” Steinberg said. “We were all young and there together and we wouldn’t talk about baseball. Instead, he was trying to fix people up in the office and he even would answer the phones in the office. He would do anything to help, but no writer would ever believe that was Eddie answering the phone in the PR office. But we were one, we were family.”
That feeling was very apparent again today at Camden Yards as Murray heard the fans chant his name one more time and saw a tribute to his great O’s career that will be here forever.