San Francisco Examiner - June 12, 1980
Rich Murray Show plays N.Y. next
By Glenn Schwarz, Examiner Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – The Rich Murray show received boffo reviews here in Bootown. Next, the kid gets to show his stuff in front of an equally critical New York audience.
Before the Giants' national touring company plays the Big Apple this weekend, fans everywhere will have read something like: "Rookie Rich Murray, younger brother of Baltimore Orioles star first baseman Eddie Murray, drove in four runs Wednesday night to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 7-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies."
The fact is, despite his quick success, Rich won't be able to get all the way out of Eddie's long shadow – at least for a while.
"I just hope," Dave Bristol said of Rich, "he can get halfway as good as his brother."
The manager made that remark last night before the Murray now playing first base for the Giants, did the family proud. In only his fifth major-league start, he hit his first homer, a two-run job, plus a couple of RBI singles. And the run-starved Giants had their biggest scoring game since May 24 as they won a road series for the third time.
Eddie who? Well, it was understandable why the Giants were turned on by their Murray's five hits and six RBI in three games at Veterans Stadium. Already in 19 at-bats, Murray has as many RBI as disabled first baseman Mike Ivie had in 103 ABs and just seven fewer than bench-heating first sacker Willie McCovey collected in 105 ABs.
Buzzed up from Phoenix when Ivie and his exhausted mind went on the disabled list a week ago, Murray was baptized by an elite pitching trio. Names of Joe Niekro, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton. But an 0-for-9 Murray got his first hit off Carlton, lined a two-run double against the less-renowned Bob Walk Tuesday night, then pounded struggling Randy Lerch and chinked capable reliever Kevin Saucier last evening.
"He's got great strength and a lot of all-around tools," Giants coach Jim Lefebvre said. "He can hit, run and he covers a bunch of ground at first base. We want to work to keep him – even when Ivie comes back.
"We can sure use his bat."
"He's exciting. He gets me excited, too. If this guy can hit like that, it will take some pressure off me," said Jack Clark, who doubled and tripled in front of the rookie cleanup hitter's singles and homered (No. 11, third in four games). "He's a strong hitter and he's as good a first baseman as there is around. He'll dive; he ain't afraid of no ball.
"Another thing I like is his size (6-4, not including a high Afro). From right field I was looking at him standing next to (Mike) Schmidt and (Gregi Luzinski. He was three inches taller than those guys – and those are the big boys. He makes our team look more powerful.
"I just like the dude. He's a quiet, happy guy, like Larry Herndon. He's comfortable because he's been with us in spring training and with his brother and everything he's been around major leaguers before. He's not awed by anybody here."
Murray handled Lerch and Saucier better than he did the pack of Philadelphia reporters who swarmed locust-like around his clubhouse dressing stall. After answering questions for the radio guys, the youngest Giant (22) mumbled a few responses to the print types, then made a lifeline for the shower.
However, it should be pointed out that about half the questions tied in his 17-month-older. two-inches shorter brother.
"Eddie says he taught you everything you know. Is that true?'' the opener was put lo him.
"We taught each other," a smiling Murray said.
Earlier last night, while waiting to take infield practice. Murray was not significantly more talkative. However, sitting on top of the dugout bench, a chewed-down toothpick dangling from his mouth, Murray did have a few things to say.
"I had to break in somewhere against somebody. I didn't care if it was against Ryan and Carlton," he said. "If they get me, they get me. I don't give in to nobody. I'm not afraid of any pitcher.
"I'm just going to go out and do my best. That's all I can do."
Last year, the word was relayed through the Giants' system that Murray did not always try his hardest. A .281 hitter his first season in Triple-A ball, Murray batted .263 for Phoenix in 1979 and had his second consecutive five-homer year. With his strength, the Giants were figuring on his pumping five balls out a month.
But this past spring, even though he realized he likely would be sent to Phoenix again and moved to third base, Murray approached the season positively. When called up, after 30 games, he was hitting .262 with seven homers and 31 RBI. A chat with Mc-Covey might have been influential.
"The main thing I talked to him about was his attitude – he didn't have the best." McCovey said. "I told him it was the same for me when I came up. Orlando Cepeda had just been Rookie of the Year and Bill White was coming out of the Army."
Bristol noticed a change.
"Three springs ago, I liked Murray. The next year, I didn't like his attitude," he said. "This year I told him to work hard and eventually he'd get his chance. He has a super attitude now. I'm pulling for him."
No harder, though, than Ed Whitson was last night. The Giants' worst-supported starter (10 runs scored for him in his previous 12 starts) almost swallowed one of his gold chains when Murray cranked a two-run homer to left in the first inning. And when Murray singled in the middle of the Giants' two-run fourth, then punched a broken-bat single to cap a two-run sixth, Whitson felt like a 24-carat pitcher.
NOTES: Trade rumors blew through the Giants clubhouse, predictably. Scuttlebutt is that any of the following could change uniforms by the Sunday midnight trade deadline: Gary Lavelle, Marc Hill, Ed Halickl, John Montefusco, Larry Herndon, Terry Whitfield... Pitchers in. New York: Vida Blue-Ray Burris tomorrow night, Montefusco-Pete Falcone Saturday night, Bob Knepper-Pat Zachry Sunday.