Reporting Jerry Coleman
The Orioles had a well attended ceremony for the unveiling of the statue of Hall of Fame first baseman Eddie Murray. Before the celebration even began the crowd erupted with the chants of “Eddie Eddie Eddie.” It started again after the guest speakers were finished.That chant “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,” was a signature during Murray’s career with the Orioles. Fans would scream the chant all the time when Murray came to bat or made a great play in the field.In those early days are when the “Eddie, Eddie” chants began. Murray said the chants actually threw him off a bit at times, but then he got used to it. “You learned to deal with it because you had a job to do,” Murray said. “It was always fun and you always figured it would really disturb or be the opponent’s problem more than anything. You just had to do your job.” The chant is an example of the strong bond Murray and the fans of Baltimore.
After the larger-than-life bronze sculpture was revealed to the public the usually calm and soft-spoken Murray clearly was touched by the work done by Toby Mendez. The statue depicts the switch-hitter as a left-handed batter in his famed “crouch” stance, waiting for a pitch. It also includes sideburns from Murray’s earlier days.
EDDIE ON THE CHANTS & FAME: VIDEO
Murray was certainly a fan favorite in town due to his success. He won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1977 and was named Most Valuable Oriole seven times. The Hall of Famer played 12 seasons in Baltimore, coming back to the team in mid-1996 to help the O’s make the post season and hit his 500th career home run on September 6th 1996 . Murray ended his career with 3,255 hits, including 504 homers. He’s one of just four players to finish with at least 500 homers and 3,000 hits. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Rafael Palmeiro are the others. “His achievements in baseball were simply remarkable,” said Louis Angelos, the Orioles ownership representative. “One of the most reliable and productive hitters in the history of baseball, Eddie was a model of consistency.”Some of the numbers illustrated that consistency: at least 75 RBI in his first 20 seasons in the Major Leagues. He also played in at least 150 games in 16 of his 21 seasons.
Someone else close to Murray showed up at the ceremony, Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, a childhood friend of Murray and teammate at Locke High School (Los Angeles) he knew Murray was going to be something special when they were kids back then. “I saw firsthand what was to come,” Smith said. “I’ve never seen anyone more determined, more confident when the game was on the line.”Murray credited Manager Earl Weaver and several others for helping him fare so well at the beginning of his career. He acknowledged that Weaver battled the front office to keep him on the team and give him a shot in 1977, saying the lessons he learned over the years from guys like Elrod Hendricks, Lee May and Cal Ripken, Sr. were invaluable to him.
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Murray was a leader on all the teams he played on. He wanted everyone to do their best and put the best effort into the game, something that current Orioles manager Buck Showalter talked about on Saturday.”Eddie wasn’t a suck-face guy with the other team,” Showalter said. “I can’t remember ever having a conversation with him until here. You wore that other uniform; he didn’t have time for you.” Murray was certainly touched by the honor. He paused a few times when talking to the crowd and told reporters later that the statue was great, and he loved Mendez’s work. “It’s really pretty cool; it’s going to be special,” Murray said. “You look at it and you still get a little speechless, and seeing it sitting out there with the rest of them and knowing that’s where it’s going to stay. That’s going to be all right.”There is always going to be a place for “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,” with the fans of Baltimore.