His rookie year was 1977 and he played in 160 games so I‘m sure I saw him earlier in the season, but my first real memory of Eddie Murray came on July 4 of that year when he hit a two run homer off Detroit’s Mark Fidrych, tying the ball game. He was primarily used as a DH that season, as the Birds were still using Lee May as their regular first baseman. The following year their roles would be reversed and Murray was on his way to a Hall of Fame career.
For the next twelve years, Eddie Murray was the one constant with the Orioles. Always in the lineup. Always a threat. “Edd-ie! Edd-ie!” the crowd would chant. Probably my biggest Eddie Murray memory came on a hot night in June, 1986 when the Red Sox and Roger Clemens came to town. Roger was 13-0 at the time, going for win number fourteen. His pitches seemed to explode as he retired one Orioles batter after another. Except for Eddie Murray who launched two homeruns off Rocket Roger. This was followed by that clutch ninth inning duel, with the game on the line, when Eddie fouled off one pitch after another, as these two titans battled on, each refusing to give in to the other. Eventually it was Roger who gave way as Eddie worked a walk.
Then came the disastrous 1988 season. For some reason everyone seemed to blame Eddie for the team’s collapse and even the fans seemed to have cooled on him. At the end of the season he was traded to the Dodgers for three players, whose names have been forgotten by all except those who revel in baseball trivia. For the next several years Eddie played for first the Dodgers, then the Mets, and finally the Indians. He put up respectable numbers wherever he went, even though he was obviously in the decline phase of his career.
Then with the Orioles making a play for the postseason in 1996, The Orioles secured Murray from Cleveland for Kent Mercker (who was sporting a 7.76 ERA).
Which brings me to my “Camden Yards Game # 20,” August 14, 1996. Eddie Murray, back where he started, playing DH for the Birds, hit two homeruns against Milwaukee. It was the twenty-first (and last) multiple homerun game of his Orioles career. It was really a thrill to see the crowd behind him once more and it was as if all the animosities of 1988 had been forgotten. Eddie was home where he belonged. The following line comes from an Orioles video. It refers to Eddie’s 500th career homerun but somehow I feel it was appropriate for that Milwaukee game as well.
Eddie’s blast had come at last; he did it here… after all these years, it was somehow meant to be.