For any baseball fan who remembers Dale Murphy, this is a fantastic read from ESPN the Magazine.
The in-depth piece by Wright Thompson — titled "Where Have You Gone, Dale Murphy?" — makes the case that the former two-time National League Most Valuable Player should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
That induction would emphasize the fact that the retired Atlanta Braves star did not use performance-enhancing drugs, even though he ended his career in the steroids era.
If baseball wants to wash itself clean from steroids, the best way to do it isn't to keep [Barry] Bonds out of the Hall but to let Murphy in. Induct cheaters but also celebrate Dale Murphy for his 398 home runs and for the dozens he did not hit.
While the article is pegged on the Hall of Fame argument — noting that Murphy will be eligible again next year — it's the personal story that makes this such a captivating read.
That story revolves around what a good guy Murphy is. A moral guy. A family guy. Dare I say a religious guy?
ESPN hints that faith might be at play in Murphy's character, as the writer emotionally describes how a generation of boys who grew up within reach of the TBS cable station idolized the Braves' star:
Our letters arrived at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, 50 or more a day for a decade, as Murphy perennially battled Mike Schmidt for the NL home run title and won back-to-back MVP awards, one of four outfielders in baseball history to accomplish that. We read the stories about Murphy's kindness and charity, how he didn't drink or smoke or curse and how he signed every autograph. We imagined meeting him over big glasses of milk and talking about his moonshot home runs.
A few paragraphs later, readers learn more about the Murphy of present day:
Generation Murph has grown into middle age. We are 35 years removed from his peak as a player. He lives mostly anonymously in Utah with his wife and eight grown children.