Growing up, I had two heroes: A late-night talk show host from Indiana, and a Mormon baseball player from Utah. You will never guess who has disappointed me the least in my adult life. I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the guy who had an affair with one of his employees.
The Mormon from Utah is Dale Murphy, two-time MVP, seven-time All-Star, and a man who basically missed the Hall of Fame by two home runs (he ended his career with 398 dingers, and 400 HRs is as good as automatic — just ask Andre Dawson). Murph was a great baseball player, but his bigger legacy will always be that of the kindest man in the history of baseball. This is not debatable. Anyone who watched baseball in the ’80s, no matter what team they rooted for, knows this about Dale Murphy. He is one of the best human beings on the planet. Literally, no one who is familiar with Murphy will deny this. He was humble, selfless, and generous, and just a good, good man.
Murphy is 64 years old now, he has a huge Mormon family, and no offense, but — appearance-wise — he could probably be mistaken for a bad guy in a Purge movie. He still leads a fairly public life; he’s vocal on Twitter; he’s a speaker; and he writes periodically for The Athletic. As someone who has looked up to Dale Murphy all my life, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, for him to expose himself as a closet evil human being. But Murphy, somehow, never fails to surprise me, and to find out that he’s friendly with R.E.M. or Jason Isbell or Walton Goggins or Wilco just blows my mind. The worst anyone can say about Murphy is that he’s a very, very white person.
We live in a moment, however, where a lot of people have been showing their true selves, or when some people previously believed to be generous and kind-hearted are revealed to be, well, Ellen Degeneres. And yet Dale Murphy — hero to millions of Southern middle-aged men — is well aware of his privilege, and he knows how to use it for positive effect.
A couple of days ago, his son was hit near the eye by a rubber bullet while protesting. This is the sort of moment where we find out who Dale Murphy truly is. Here’s what we learned about Dale Murphy:
Luckily, his eye was saved due to a kind stranger that was handing out goggles to protestors shortly before the shooting and another kind stranger that drove him to the ER. Others were not so lucky and will be permanently disabled due to excessive police force— Dale Murphy (@DaleMurphy3) June 1, 2020
If you're a beneficiary of systemic racism, then you will not be able to dismantle it at no cost to yourself. You will have to put yourself at risk. It might not always result in being physically attacked, but it will require you to make yourself vulnerable.— Dale Murphy (@DaleMurphy3) June 1, 2020
I don’t know that anyone who doesn’t know who Dale Murphy is will understand what that means coming from him, but JFC, my heart swelled three sizes (sorry for the blasphemy, Dale). Also, Reggie Jackson knows what’s up.
Thank you Dale#3. Your understanding of systemic racism i am thankful for. I pray for your sons full recovery. And yes you’re a HOFER in my mind— Reggie Jackson (@mroctober) June 1, 2020
However, it also meant that Murphy has probably incurred backlash for the first time in his life, all from racists subhumans like former Philly/Met Lenny Dykstra. Murphy didn’t put himself physically at risk, but by speaking out, he made himself vulnerable to attacks from racist fans and fellow baseball players. But he also used his platform in a positive way, to speak to other white people about what former NBA player Steve Nash correctly notes is “a white problem.” Some of Murph’s fans will reject his message, but a lot of white people who love and respect and admire him will listen, which only strengthens Murphy’s legacy — not as a man who deserves to be in the HOF — but as one of the best human beings in all of sports.
Murph, you obviously raised one hell of a man. Heroes so often let you down, thank you for being the exception to the rule. #BlackLivesMatter— Dudebrarian (@JMartin704) June 1, 2020