Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#42 Dale Murray

Card:  This is Murray's 6th Topps card.  Murray's rookie card was in the '75 set.

Picture:  Murray is leaning over in what is supposed to look like his pitching follow through but it looks more like someone or something got his attention right before he treid to pull a weed from the ground.  Murray looks tired.

Player:  Murray a right handed pitcher was drafted in the 18th round by the Montreal Expos in the 1970 draft and Murray made his MLB debut in July of 1974. After pitching well out of the pen in blowouts and losses for the first few months, Murray was closing out games by September.  Murray had a tremendous three week stretch to end the season.  Pitching 27.1 innings in 12 games, Murray did not allow a run and saved 10 games.  The 6'4" Texan ended the year with a 1.03 ERA, pitching 69.2 innings in 32 games.

Although Murray missed and a month with hepatitis and pitched exclusively in relief, Murray led Expos pitchers with 15 wins in 1975.  Murray also had 9 saves in 111 innings with a league average 3.96 ERA and an inflated WHIP of 1.554.  Murray led the Expos with 13 saves in '76 and led the NL with 81 games pitched and posted a 3.26 ERA. The big sinkerballer induced a lot of double plays, had excellent control, and had shown a remarkable knack for keeping the ball in the park thus far allowing only two home runs in his first three seasons despite logging over 275 innings.

Prior to the '77 season the Expos traded Murray and Woodie Fryman to the Reds for Tony Perez and Will McEnaney.  The change of scenery proved disastrous for the 27 year-old.  Murray's ERA jumped to 4.94 as he gave up 13 homers in 102 innings.  Murray was pitching a little better when he was again traded in May of '78 to the Mets.  Murray was able to rebound from his terrible season and his ERA returned to a more respectable 3.78 as he saved seven games between his two teams. 

Murray scuffled through most of 1979 for the Mets before they sold him back to his original team in Montreal. Murray stats on the year were a disappointing 5-10 record, 4.57 ERA and a whopping 174 base runners in 110 innings.  Murray split 1980 between Montreal and AAA Denver but was released in August with a 6.14 ERA with the big club.

Murray signed in the off season with Toronto and spent the most of the year with AAA Syracuse.  Murray pitched great at Syracuse (1.85 ERA, 16 saves in 78 innings) and was called up at the end of the year.  Murray's success continued as he gave up only two runs in 15.1 innings with Toronto.  Murray's rebound year helped him earn a spot in the pen for the Jays in '82 and he was able to reclaim the major league success that had eluded him over the past few years.  Murray saved 11 games to lead the Blue Jays, working 111 innings with a 3.16 ERA.  In December Toronto traded Murray along with Tom Dodd to the New York Yankees for Dave Collins, Fred McGriff, Mike Morgan and cash.

In New York Murray again had trouble keeping runners off base and had a 4.48 ERA in 94 innings in 1983.  The Yankees resigned Murray, but he struggled with injuries and only pitched in 19 games in '84.  Murray was released by the Yankees in April of '85 and was signed by the Rangers.  After allowing two runs in an inning for Texas, they decided to send Murray down to the minors.  Murray pitched well at AAA but did not get called back up.  Troubled by a problem with his sciatic nerve Murray's career was finished.

Stuff: Fastball, sinker, forkball.  Believed by some to throw a spitball.

Flipside: Bobby Cox used Murray 14 times in '82 to pitch 3 or more innings and was stretched out as far as five innings.  Murray was never really the same after this season and it makes you wonder if the work load helped accelerate his decline.

Oddball:  Murray's 11 saves in '82 was a franchise record for the young Blue Jays franchise.  The mark stood until 1985.  Hard to believe that 11 saves would be the high water mark for a team for eight seasons.

History:  Murray had his ups and downs in hsi careeer.  At his best he could work 60+ games a year working several innings per appearance.   His career WHIP of 1.446 is very high compared to his career 3.85 ERA showing that he often lived on the edge of disaster even in his good outings.  Yankee fans will remember Murray for being the main return in the ill-fated Fred McGriff trade, and Reds fans will recall Murray as half of the return in the deal that sent Tony Perez packing.


  1. The Jays bullpen the first 7-8 years was definitely not the strong point of the club. Not until Tom Henke came along did the Jays really even have a true closer.

  2. As a kid I didn't like Dale Murray because the Reds traded Tony Perez to get him. I expected a lot out of him and he didn't quite deliver.