Posted: 1:11 pm Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Mike Mills’ song pushes Dale Murphy for Hall 

By Jeff Schultz

Dale Murphy remains a popular figure at Braves games (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Dale Murphy remains a popular figure at Braves games (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

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.”

Mike Mills is an avid sports fan and attends several Braves game a year. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman).

Mike Mills is an avid sports fan and attends several Braves game a year. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman).

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’s a link to the CD, now available, on Steve Wynn’s website.

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.

 

32 comments
DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

Kent Hrbek deserves to be in the Hall of Shame for that play in the 91 World Series.  One of the worst calls ever and done deliberately by Hrbek.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

Dale Murphy is the epitome of what you want in a person and a baseball player.  He deserves and earned the right to be in the HOF.

MitchellC
MitchellC

I've been a Braves fan since 1983.  I'm a man in my 40s now, and have lived in the north most of my life, but always been a Braves fan.  One time, when I was 14, my father got me into the Braves clubhouse at the old Shea Stadium.  Murph came out of the trainer's room to sign, and was a genuinely nice guy.


Murph could get in based on his numbers alone, but.. I think he was hurt.. by the fact that except for 1982 and 1983, the Braves were a bad team for most of his time with them.  


I hope that somehow, someday the Veterans committee would let him in.   

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

How about a song singing "I wanna see Fred McGriff in the Hall of Fame".


McGriff is more deserving than Murphy.

Ted_Striker
Ted_Striker

This may be unpopular but I think the 75% vote total requirement is a little high. You have voters that don't like some players, and some that may think 2 people out of 10 that they can vote for belong in. I say change the voting rules and the heck with the current system. 

kenstallings
kenstallings

Well, I certainly agree with Mills that it's stupid that Murph's not already in the Hall.

FromATLtoAZ
FromATLtoAZ

Dale Murphy IS baseball.  Not just because he was the classiest, most respected leader for the Braves.  He was and is a town hero.  The numbers have merit by themselves.  How can you let others with lesser numbers get in the Hall?  I don't get it.  What kind of conspiracy is this? 


Everyone I hung out with as a kid had that awesome poster titled "Power Alley" w. Murph and his bat in a dark alley nonetheless.  You knew when Murph got up something good was always possible.  The man put this town on his shoulders and battled Andre Dawson for what seemed like every year for those back to back MVPs.  Alas Andre got in.  Think about that for a second.  Murph was the most valuable player in the league and he did it in consecutive years.  He was not just good for a few years either.  Silver Sluggers, Gold Gloves, what more do these "experts" have to see from a player?! Is it home runs, batting average, hits, world series titles, MVPs?  I guess the world will never know.  Here's a novel idea - LET THE FANS DECIDE!  Beats relying on stupid and partial sportswriters' subjectivity.


Remember those Kinnett ice cream commercials?  Just classic Dale Murphy. 


We love you Murph!

dawgfacedboy
dawgfacedboy

Bench was also a catcher and his numbers are awesome for his position. There is obviously some reason he didn't get in and I think we all agree that it had nothing to do with his integrity and sportsmanship.

Andres Galaragga played 1 more year than Murph, and has more HRs and RBis and his avg over a 162 game season numbers are better. Are you going to argue that Andres Galaragga should be in the HOF??

Dman
Dman

If this is a numbers game, Johnny Bench only had 389 homers which is less than Murphy and he is in. I can go on all day with this numbers argument. Doesn't hold water. Murph got screwed because he played in Atlanta just like Claud Humphrey until this year. Hopefully the MLB veterans committee will get t right and elect Murphy into the Hall like he deserves.

Wilbo
Wilbo

If it were the Hall of Good Players who had a Couple of Great Seasons and Flamed out Early, Murphy would be in like Flynn. It isn't. Let it go. I mean who will we push next for the HOF? Glenn Hubbard? The guy named Jeff with the prominent chin. They were nice guys, too, and we liked them, shouldn't they be Hall of Fame candidates?

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

The longtime standard (before Bill James) had been 500 homers, 3,000 hits and 300 wins. Murph doesn't come even close to these numbers.

Dman
Dman

I wanna see Daaaaaaaaale Murphy in the hall of fame.....

Classof98
Classof98

Jeff, it's cool that you went to high school with the legendary Steve Wynn.  Most people I know consider Lennon/McCartney, Dylan and Wynn to be the three most influential artists in the history of recorded music.


But you shouldn't be a name-dropper.  Sylvester Stallone told me that.

GuyOnThisSite
GuyOnThisSite

That guy at the end singing about 1991 should also mention how the Twin's ballpark staff manipulated the airflow in the building to hurt the Braves' hitting.

dawgfacedboy
dawgfacedboy

Personally I would let him in. I think if he had 2 more homeruns, bringing his total to 400, he would be in. It's a shame. Dude averaged 30/95 for his career.

dawgfacedboy
dawgfacedboy

Baseball is a numbers game and he simply does not have the numbers. You don't make the HOF by being a great guy.

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

In the clip of the Mark Fidrych song, Mike Mills' guitar strap has Iron Maiden imprinted on it.


Awesomeness.

extremus
extremus

Between being MLB's best center fielder for the better part of a decade (and arguably the best player PERIOD for at least a few of those years) and being not only the face of the Braves but a true "good guy" ambassador for the game throughout his career and since, Dale Murphy should indeed be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame.  It's kind of sad that he was perpetually overlooked, and "if MLB can forgive Bonds and PEDs" as a recent major sports website article pondered, not only should it allow Pete Rose into the HoF, but a man with character that equaled his performance on the baseball field: Dale Murphy.

Pocaroba
Pocaroba

Can someone here do a song about the 1998 NFC championship game so maybe we can shut up those Minnesota fans. And maybe some commercials from Norton Anderson on how to kick field goals. 



Da_Mick
Da_Mick

I echo Dennis C Brown's sentiments entirely.


Good one, Mike Mills!  That's using your voice for something that matters.  Some would say it's only baseball, but what Dale represents in context of what this country's lost matters.  It's time we showed that we realize that and care about it. Let's pay tribute to what's right about a great player in what we once considered "The Great Game."

LarvellBlanks
LarvellBlanks

It's actually Craig Finn, of The Hold Steady, who wrote and sings the Twinkies song (although maybe McCaughey sings it when Finn isn't touring with them).  An incredible song, except for that one verse.  I saw them perform it in New York last year, and Finn mockingly pointed over at Mike Mills when he sang the line about Ron Gant.  Best concert I've ever been to.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3ppgBYAYRg

Wilbo
Wilbo

@FromATLtoAZ  If da Murph had spent less time making ice cream commercials and less time procreating, and more time learning to hit the down & away curveball, maybe he'd be in, but then nahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the dude doesn't deserve the Hall and he WILL NOT get in. Give it up for crying out loud.

Dman
Dman

Murph was a catcher for the first part of his career and he had a higher batting average than Bench. I can bring other players in here that are in the Hall with lower totals than Murph. Fact is, most of the people who vote for the hall are in the Northern States and they just dont like us Southern folks or our teams.

Andres didn't win two MVPs and wasn't an Allstar as much as Murph. Bad comparison.

Dman
Dman

Hall of Fame is not determined by numbers alone. But if you want to argue that, how many guys are in the hall today with less than 2 MVP's, less than 5 Gold Gloves, less integrity, less sportsmanship, less ability and less character than Dale Murphy? Answer, many. Dale should be in too.

Dman
Dman

There are guys with less numbers already in...

Wilbo
Wilbo

@extremus  If it were the Hall of Good Players who had a Couple of Great Seasons and Flamed out Early, Murphy would be in like Flynn. It isn't. Let it go. I mean who will we push next for the HOF? Glenn Hubbard? The guy named Jeff with the prominent chin. They were nice guys, too, and we liked them, shouldn't they be Hall of Fame candidates?

denniscbrown
denniscbrown

@LarvellBlanks  Murphy sure has my vote. Not only a quality player, but a perfect representative for what many of us wish baseball would still represent. Alas - million dollar players no longer raise memories of the personable, responsive, and appreciative players America's game so long had stood for. But hey, Dale Murphy's example set the standard. Much too high for most of our entitlement society youth of today.  And that , if for no other reason, says it all and alas, it's a travesty that he has already been voted in. !

Quicherbichin
Quicherbichin

@Wilbo @extremus I would definitely nominate Wilbo for the Braves Hall of Shame... there are others there as well... among them, Chuck Tanner and Eddie Haas.