Remembering No. 500 for Eddie Murray (plus draft news)

Like Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray is an Orioles legend who did not play his entire career in Baltimore. But he sure made a massive impact on the organization. His No. 33 is a retired number and there is a large bronze sculpture of Murray in Orioles Legends Park beyond the left center field wall.

The O’s Twitter account ran a post that featured a fun look back at Murray’s 500th homer, which he hit on Sept. 6, 1996. It happened one year to the day after Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played.

At the end of this entry, I’ll post the look back at No. 500 for Murray. To honor that homer, off Detroit’s Felipe Lira, the Orioles installed an orange seat in the right field bleachers where the ball landed (Section 96, Row 7, Seat 23).

Eddie-Murray-Assistant-Sidebar.jpgMurray was known as “steady Eddie” for his ability to keep himself in the lineup, and for his consistently strong production. Production that led him to the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1999 and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on the first ballot in 2003. Murray went into the Hall as an Oriole.

On Dec. 4, 1988, after 12 seasons in the orange and black, Murray was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Juan Bell, Brian Holton and Ken Howell. Not a great trade for Baltimore. Murray left amid some controversy and battles with the media, and he seemed to get more than his share of the blame for back-to-back seasons of 95 and 107 losses.

But fortunately, Murray returned in a trade with Cleveland on July 22, 1996. He was at 491 homers then and this made sure he would get No. 500 in an Orioles uniform. That was certainly fitting.

Murray, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodríguez are the only players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits. Unlike Brooks and Frank Robinson, Boog Powell and Ripken, Murray never won an MVP award, but he finished in the top six seven times.

A model of consistency, he drove in at least 75 runs in each of his first 20 seasons, a feat unmatched. He has more RBIs than any switch-hitter in modern-day history and ranks 10th all-time in RBIs. He won the Orioles’ “Triple Crown” five times, leading the club in average, homers, and RBIs. He was named Most Valuable Oriole seven times (twice sharing the award with Ripken).

Some might forget that Murray wasn’t bad in the field either, and he won three Gold Gloves. He holds major league career records for games and assists as a first baseman.

And Murray currently serves as a special advisor and community liaison for the Orioles. It’s great that we still see him around the club in spring training and several times during the season.

Murray’s 500th is a nice memory and it was nice to take a trip for that yesterday down memory lane.

What are some moments in O’s club history that you remember like they happened yesterday? What were some of your favorites?

Draft news: Multiple reporters and outlets reported Friday that the 2020 First-Year Player Draft will, in fact, consist of just five rounds. That would mean six selections for the Orioles at Nos. 2, 30, 39, 74, 103 and 133. I wrote this last weekend about a possible five-round draft.

On the one hand, no it’s not great having so few rounds for a rebuilding team like the Orioles. On the other hand, it’s a good time for them to have such high picks. The pressure will be on to hit on those picks, of course, but no team around Major League Baseball will have an edge on them. In fact, the Orioles’ total pool amount of nearly $14 million will be the largest in the sport. Last June, their second pick was Gunnar Henderson at No. 42. This June they will have made three picks by that time.

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