SALT LAKE CITY (MLB) - While it ultimately yielded one more disappointing result, Alpine resident Dale Murphy's final year on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot also provided the former Braves outfielder a sense of how much he is still loved and respected by fans, media members and his peers.
A sense of excitement built as Murphy's children used various social media outlets to campaign for their father. Their efforts prompted fans and media members to use Twitter to shower Murphy with praise and describe him as both a great player and a first-class individual.
This overwhelming support was what separated this final ballot experience from any of the previous 14. But when the results were announced on Wednesday afternoon, there was a familiar sense of disappointment felt by Murphy and his most loyal fans.
Murphy received 18.6 percent of the votes cast, far short of the 75 percent total needed to be elected into the Hall of Fame. This stood as a 4.1 percent improvement from 2012, and the highest total he had received since garnering a personal-best 23.2 percent of the votes in '00 -- his second year on the ballot.
"I thought I'd get more support over the course of the 15 years," Murphy said. "I got a significant percentage boost. I'm very thankful for that. It's really been a great experience the past month. The support from fans and the media, it all brought back great memories. I'm very thankful for that. I have no complaints."
Murphy admits that he thought he might receive an even greater jump that would have taken him to closer to 25 percent. But as he conducted a phone conversation from his Utah home on Wednesday afternoon, he provided no hint of resentment or disappointment.
"If I was sitting here at 65 percent, I'd say I'm disappointed," Murphy said. "I can't lie to you. But it's been a great experience. It really has been. I feel very lucky to have been on the ballot for 15 years."
When Murphy received 19.3 percent of the votes in 1999, there was certainly a sense that he would eventually gain election. During that same year, future Hall of Famers Bruce Sutter (24.3 percent) and Bert Blyleven (14.1 percent) garnered similar results.
But as time passed, Murphy's support dwindled. He received a personal-low 8.5 percent of the votes in 2004, and 9.2 percent in '07. But he always received the necessary five percent total that enabled him to remain on the Hall of Fame ballot for the maximum 15 years.
Now, Murphy's hopes of gaining entry into the Hall of Fame rest in the hands of the Veterans Committee. If he does not gain election this way, he will join Roger Maris in having the distinction of being a two-time Most Valuable Player Award winner who has never been enshrined in Cooperstown.
Many fans will remember that Murphy won consecutive National League MVP Awards (1982-83), earned seven All-Star appearances and garnered five Gold Glove Awards. Along the way, Murphy also received the Lou Gehrig Award ('85), the Roberto Clemente Award ('88) and the Bart Giamatti Service Award ('91).
Sports Illustrated named Murphy as one of it Sportsmen of the Year in 1987, and the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame inducted Murphy in '95.
Murphy compiled more total bases than anybody during the 1980s. Over that 10-year span, Mike Schmidt was the only player with more homers, and Eddie Murray was the only one with more RBIs. Both have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
In addition, Murphy led all Major League outfielders during the 1980s in home runs (308) and RBIs (929). He ranked second among outfielders during this span in hits (1,553) and extra-base hits (596).
Murphy's candidacy was been hindered by his .265 lifetime batting average, which was damaged as he battled knee injuries late in his career. He hit .289 with a .913 OPS from 1982-87, but batted just .234 with a .702 OPS from '88 until the end of his career in '93.