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Murph Talks

Stepping Back Between The Lines

In 2011, I did something I never thought I’d do: I started a blog.

At the time, social media was still a new thing, at least for people like me. My kids introduced me to Facebook and Twitter, and I have to admit it was way more fun than I thought it would be. I had no idea there were so many different outlets available to connect with friends and fans. Once I realized that, I was all-in. Like a prospect getting called up from the minors, I wanted to make an impression. I was going to blog once a week, every week, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Six posts later, I retired.

Blogging, as I soon found out, is tough. It takes time, effort, and commitment. It’s like hitting a baseball: If you don’t devote yourself to your craft, you’re not going to be very good at it.

In retrospect, my blogging intentions were good. My timing wasn’t.

In 2011, my daughter, Madi, was still a high school senior; now she’s married (see above). My wife, Nancy, and I had three grandchildren; now we have 12. A lot has happened over the last seven years. Being a good father and grandfather – or at least trying to be – took precedent.

Over the last year or so, though, the blogging itch returned. Our family has expanded, yet the Murphy household has gotten quieter. As a result, I talk less than I used to, but I still have a lot to say.

That’s a welcome change from my playing days.

Back in the ’80s, I admit, I was kind of a boring interview. I talked a lot without saying much. Part of that was not wanting anything to come out the wrong way. It’s easy for words to be misconstrued, and I didn’t want anything I said to be taken out of context. I had nothing but respect for my teammates and the opposition. Baseball is a difficult game, and the difference between success and failure is slim. You can be a hero one day and a goat the next. Win or lose, I commend anyone who has the courage to step between those lines.

And so, respecting the game and those who played it was always a top priority. So was protecting my privacy. Athletes today, I don’t know how they do it. Their lives are on display 24/7. We all come of age in an era that seems normal, but I don’t know if I could have played in the age of social media. It can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse – Twitter, especially. When used effectively, Twitter is a great tool to connect with people. But it can also be harsh and negative, almost always to an unjustified degree.

That’s why I’ve always gravitated toward long-form pieces. Twitter is like a 100-mile-per-hour fastball. It comes at you fast and furious and there’s often not enough time to react. Blogging is like a slow roller down the third base line. It takes time to develop, there are a lot of moving parts, and you have to wait longer than usual to learn the outcome. But by the end, hopefully you have a more nuanced appreciation for what you just witnessed.

Ultimately, I think I played in an era that suited me. I played in a city, Atlanta, that suited me. I don’t know if I would have thrived if I had to live under a microscope.

These days, though, I’m less guarded. I think that’s the natural path people take. The older I get, the more opinions I have. The more opinions I have, the more I like to talk, whether it’s about baseball or life.

Sometimes I think about where we are and where we’re going, and I worry. Not just as baseball fans – though the game is at a crossroads with pitch clocks and pace of play – but as people. We seem more divided than ever. Every generation probably feels that way at some point, but it really feels that way now.

As a father, you want what’s best for your kids. As a grandfather, you want the same, but it’s different. I became a father at 24. All of my kids are older now than I was then. I’ve been able to watch their journeys with pride and see the wonderful people they’ve become. I’ll be able to watch my grandkids, too, but by the time they’re my age, I’ll be gone. I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but that’s just part of the deal.

Time is a weird thing. There’s no clock in baseball, but there are contracts. Some are good, some are bad, and some are about right. But they all last for a finite period of time. They all end. Life is kind of the same way. Whether you’re in the top of the first or the seventh-inning stretch, we’re all playing the same game. I’m excited to watch my grandkids take their first at-bat. But I wonder where they’ll be when they get to the bottom of the ninth.

What type of world are we leaving them? What type of world will they inherit?

Think about how much has changed since 2011. Albert Pujols was still a Cardinal. LeBron James had never won an NBA title. Donald Trump was a reality TV star.

Well, not everything has changed.

In recent years, I’ve come to admire Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He’s reinvented himself in retirement. Every athlete has to do that, at least a little, but Kareem has done so better than most. He used to be known as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer; now he’s known as a writer and activist. I’m not a writer or an activist, but I have opinions. And if voicing those opinions can help people or propel them to think about things in a different way, I want to do that.

You might not always agree with me. In fact, I can guarantee you won’t. But I hope you find value in my words. I hope they bring us closer together. Because in the end, that’s all a blog is: a way to connect with people. This time, I won’t lose sight of that.

Put me in, coach. I’m here. I’m ready. Let’s play some ball!

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Dale says:

    Always a fan Mr. Murphy, even if I wasn’t a Braves fan. Looking forward to reading your blog.

  • Jeff says:

    Enjoyed your comeback. Real. Thank you.

  • Charles Guigno says:

    This was my first reading of your blog. I enjoyed it very much, I think because I related to some of your life’s milestones. I to was a father at a young age, 20 years old. I first saw my older daughter when she was 6 months old the day I rotated back to the states from Southeast Asia. My wife and I “grew up” with our children, 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren and we don’t regret it even after 50 years. I’m fortunate to have watched all of them grow up. My youngest grandchild is 20 and he’s now in law school. They have all performed well scolasticly as well as athletically in college and we couldn’t be more proud.
    Being a big baseball fan and having seen you play many times against my beloved Mets and there were many times you broke our hearts. At a family dinner I mentioned I was lucky enough to have connected with you, they looked at each other and ask “Who”? Just kidding, I had mentioned your name in many conversations about how you passed the torch on to Chipper.
    I’m not to sure how many of these comments you read but from my perspective I enjoyed the conversation.

  • Adam Womble says:

    Thanks for the thoughts, Dale. I enjoyed this “slow roller down the third base line” read. Keep it up!

  • Daniel says:

    Mr. Murphy
    You were the first ball player that I rooted for, and you never once caused my pastor/father sit me down and say I’m sorry but he is not a good example. I always tried to get your autograph at Fulton county. You were always a great role model.

  • Loved every word, sir. I grew up watching you. You’ve always been my favorite, but I was a pitcher only as I started junior college so Smoltzie is right there with you as my co-favorites. You always did things the right way and I admire that, just as much as I admired watching you play. So, I’m looking forward to reading every blog you do cause I know it will come from the heart. That is sadly missing in the world today.
    I sent you a blank post card when I was kid. You signed it and dropped it back in the mail to me. I can’t tell you how big a thrill that was for a 12 year old Kentucky boy. Of course I still have it and always will. I have a signed jersey and bat on display. Many pictures and cards. I stop in the store every time we come down for a series, hoping to get to meet you. Hopefully that will happen sometime. I’ve talked to your partner a couple times. He said you stay with him when you come down. He told me to call him and see when you’re gonna be there. Just trying to express my appreciation for the man you are and tell you I loved watching you play. I swung the bat and everything else just like you, to the best of my ability. But as I’ve gotten older, I realize that I appreciate being a good a person and I attribute a lot of that to you also. Thank you Murph! Always your biggest fan in Kentucky. 😉

  • Jack Wheeler says:

    Great to have you back. Are you still a Wilco fan the greatest band in the world

  • Scooter Baldw6 says:

    Dale glad you’re back loved the Blog. you are a child hood hero of mine and many others. We would love to have you in our inventation only Braves chat group. I will send you the invite. It would be an honor to hear your opinion on some of the matters and goings on of the current team. We only have 600 or so members, but everyone gets along and respects people’s opinions. The Name is Chop on damn it. I’ll send you the invite.

  • Matthew Jones says:

    Welcome back Mr. Murphy! I will admit that you’ve always been my favorite player, since 1986. We moved to Athens, Ga where my Dad had taken a pastorate. When we were moving into the house, Dad turned on 17 as usual, and as we unpacked we watched the game. As far as I can tell (I was 5 at the time…), the game was against Cincinnati, May 8 (baseball-reference is a wonderful tool!). You hit two homers in the game and I was hooked from then on.

    Glad that you’re enjoying your retirement still, and all those grandchildren! Look forward to seeing more blogging.

  • Randall Rowe says:

    Keep up the blogging can’t wait to read more! Always been a huge fan

  • Stephen Getty says:

    Your respect for others and the game have always been admired. If you should share an opinion I disagree with, I know you put thought into it, and that too will be respected. Blog on Murph!!

  • Kurt Haug says:

    Very glad I will be able to hear from a fellow Alpiner who has had a similar life arc (not as an MLB player, but as a father and grandfather) and seems to share a similar view from this seat in the bleachers. Look forward to following your ongoing story here…

  • Tim Robinson says:

    Good to see you putting on the blogging cleats again! As you say, regular writing is a discipline (just like swinging the bat) but it definitely has its own rewards. You’ll better understand your own thinking the more you write your thoughts down and, this time, let’s hope 6 posts in, you’re just getting started.

  • HB says:

    You were my favorite player growing up. Not just because of hits, homers, or that kind of thing. even as a kid I noticed you played *hard*, and you played with class.
    I appreciate reading your thoughts and insights, and I am very glad that life has been good to you, and you in return have been good to others.
    Best,
    HB

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