Posted: 1:11 pm Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
By Jeff Schultz
Dale Murphy lost his final chance to be voted into the Hall of Fame by writers in 2013. Is it possible a new song written about him by another Hall of Famer will give his candidacy new life?
Mike Mills, an avid sports fan and the talented singer, musician and composer for the Athens band R.E.M. (inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007), has written a song called, “To The Veteran’s Committee,” which pleads for Murphy’s long overdue induction into Cooperstown. The song appears on the just released CD, “The Baseball Project: 3rd,” which is the third collections of baseball rock songs from the band that includes Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), Peter Buck (R.EM.), Scott McCaughey and Linda Pitmon.
“I was already touring with the Baseball Project,” said Mills, a long-time Braves fan (and sports Fantasy League player) who even remembers being taken to an Atlanta Crackers as a youth. “I guess you could say I was a bench player before and now I’ve been called up.”
Murphy met Mills and other Baseball Project band members for the first time a few years ago at a function at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York that included a private donation of 35,000 baseball cards and a panel discussion on the sport and race relations.
“I always felt Dale should be in the Hall of Fame just based on what he did as a player,” Mills said. “But after meeting him, I believed it even more. What a great person. He has all four qualifications for the Hall: ability, character, sportsmanship, integrity. It’s just stupid that he’s not in there.”
In, “To The Veterans Committee,” Mills writes an open letter to the group that’s empowered to put deserving former players, managers or officials into the Hall of Fame if the honor has previously eluded them, for whatever reason. There are now actually three 16-member committees, including the “Expansion Era Committee,” which is the one that would determine Murphy’s candidacy moving forward.
The song praise Murphy for his accomplishments and his decision to not use performance-enhancing drugs. Among the lyrics: “Submitted here for your consideration; A man who meets all qualifications; Character, ability, sportsmanship, integrity; These are the things that you require, and he’s got them in spades; Two MVPs and 5 Gold Gloves; Atlanta fans’ undying love. … Forget about the liars; All the Sosas and McGwires; I wanna see Dale Murphy in the Hall of Fame.”
Murphy said he felt “honored” when he heard about the song and just heard it the other day for the first time when his son showed him a YouTube link of the Baseball Project playing it at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin.
“I never realized all of those guys loved baseball so much until I had a chance to meet them,” Murphy said. “The songs are great. They’re funny and they tell really good stories. I heard Peter Buck has his own little music festival in Mexico somewhere and he used some of the money to buy a local team baseball uniforms. I guess it’s the collision of two worlds, rock and baseball. I’m honored to be a part of that.”
As for whether this could help his Hall chances, Murphy laughed and said, “Every little bit helps.”
This actually is the second song written about Murphy. In 1986, Wade Hester wrote, “Nocahoma Murphy.” Mills, former R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry and others played on the song. Murphy owns a copy of it.
The Baseball Project is a perfect forum for Mills’ song. I’ve written about the group and its front man, Steve Wynn, several times in the past. Steve and I were good friends in high school in Los Angeles, when we both worked for the school newspaper. He went on to become an accomplished songwriter and musician and achieved tremendous success with the group, “Dream Syndicate” and other bands.
In 2008, he formed, “The Baseball Project,” a collection of witty rock songs about historical figures and events in the sport’s history. Their first CD, “Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails,” was a hit and even landed them on the David Letterman show (video below). The band’s second CD, “Volume 2: High and Inside,” included, “Don’t Call Them Twinkies,” which actually is a really good song, except for the fact it references the disputed Kent Hrbek-Ron Gant play at first base during the 1991 World Series.
McCaughey sings these words: “In 1991 the Twins were once again on top. We faced Atlanta in the Series. They thought that they were hot. I’ve never seen nothing so lame as that Fondahawk chop. But we were up against the ropes when Kirby called his shot. And as he ran around the bases, smiling and pumping fists, we all knew that he had won it, though it was only just game six. And the next night Jack Morris came and made his hometown proud. You should watch it in slow motion: Ron Gant was clearly out.”
When I saw the band perform the song in Atlanta, those lyrics were booed, of course.
Mills said when the band plays the song now, “I take the microphone from Scott.”
Here’s Mills, Wynn, McCaughey and the Baseball Project playing, “To The Veterans Committee,” at the recent South by Southwest (SXSW) music and arts festival in Austin, Texas.
Here are the full lyrics to, “To The Veterans Committee.”Submitted here for your consideration
A man who meets all qualifications
Character, ability, sportsmanship, integrity,
These are the things that you require, and he’s got them in spades.
Two MVPs and 5 Gold Gloves,
Atlanta fans’ undying love
And though he heard the voices like the rest
He stayed out of the viper’s nest
He chose to play with just his best
And that’s why I feel good to say
I wanna see Dale Murphy in the Hall of Fame (x 2)
Forget about the liars
All the Sosas and McGwires
I wanna see Dale Murphy in the Hall of Fame
They say 400 is a magic number
But Murphy hit 398
You can’t tell me that isn’t great
And that’s why I don’t want to wait to see
Dale Murphy in the Hall of Fame
I wanna see Dale Murphy in the Hall of Fame
Forget about the cheaters
And all those steroid eaters
I wanna see Dale Murphy in the Hall of Fame (x 3) •
Here’s a link to, “Nocahoma Murphy,” written by Wade Hester in 1986.
Here’s Steve, Scott, Linda and Peter from their appearance on the David Letterman show, signing, “Past Time” (from the first Baseball Project CD)
Here’s one last one: the gang singing, “1976,” which is about the late Mark Fidrych.
About the Author
Jeff Schultz has worked at newspapers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta. He has been with the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution since 1989. He has been honored several times by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) and several other organizations. He also likes puppies, rock and roll and anything with cheese on it.