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Baseball star advises kids to "do things the right way '

AUGUSTA --- One look and you could easily think that Dale Murphy still plays Major League Baseball today.

The 54-year-old former star right fielder with the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, still is in top physical shape.

It's because he has stayed in condition and never done such things as drink alcoholic beverages or smoked cigarettes.

He said he's proud he hasn't made a lot of bad choices in his life and credits his parents as being strong influences on him to make the right decisions in many instances.

Murphy was one of two guest speakers at the 23rd Annual Steak & Burger Dinner for Boys and Girls Clubs of Augusta and Thomson.

The dinner and banquet was held at Augusta State University's Christenberry Fieldhouse in Augusta. The other speaker was Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

"It's important to do things the right way," said Murphy, a seven-time All-Star player and twice leader of the National League in home runs and RBI and who led the majors over a 10-year period from 1981 until 1990 for home runs and RBI.

Doing things the right way has been something Murphy has gone out of his way to teach his own children through the years, as well as thousands of other children across the country in the years since he has retired from the game he loved so much.

While a big leaguer, Murphy's habits were widely-known throughout Major League Baseball. A devout Mormon, not only did Murphy not drink alcoholic beverages and smoke, he also never allowed a photographer to snap a picture of himself with women embracing him. He also paid for the dinners of teammates on many occasions, so long as alcoholic beverages weren't on the tab.

Murphy, who is listed as 48th on the all-time home run list, served as a role model for many years when he was with the Braves.

Prior to the dinner and banquet, Murphy talked with several area reporters, including two from The McDuffie Mirror.

One of the questions concerned this being the last season for Bobby Cox as manager with the Atlanta Braves.

"We'll miss him," said Murphy. "I don't think he's going to be changing his mind about retiring. It's going to be strange. It's kind of like when Johnny Carson left and you turn on the TV and you go 'Yeah, he's really not there.' When someone does something for that long, so good, it's going to be a strange thing."

One of the greatest memories of his career was when he was named National League Most Valuable Player in 1982 and 1983. In winning those back-to-back awards, Murphy is the only player in Atlanta Braves franchise history to earn those honors in back-to-back years. His years with the Braves made him one of their most popular players ever.

When he retired, the Braves honored him by retiring his No. 3 jersey. They also inducted him into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame.

"That was definitely the highlight of my career, being honored as the National League Most Valuable Player in 1982 and 1983," said Murphy.

When it comes to making the Major League Hall of Fame, however, it's been a different story. That's something that has eluded him.

The best he's ever done in the balloting in that particular arena was 11.7 percent.

A percentage of at least 75 percent is required for such induction.

Murphy readily admitted that it would be great to be inducted into the Hall of Fame someday, but is at what he described peace with such a long shot, now that he has been retired from the game for so many years.

"I'm not really sitting on pins and needles," said Murphy. "I know that if it ever happens, it's going to be a long, long time."

Murphy, who recently attended the Braves workouts in spring baseball, said he is preparing to return to Florida to catch up a little more before the regular season starts.

Web posted on Thursday, April 01, 2010

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