Murray proves to be Indians' midnight man 11th inning of Game 3 is vet's kind of stage

October 26, 1995|By Ken Rosenthal | Ken Rosenthal,SUN COLUMNIST

CLEVELAND -- 12:42 a.m. The perfect time for Eddie Murray to strike, with reporters missing deadline after deadline, and much of the nation asleep.

Call him Dr. Midnight.

Mr. October wouldn't be accurate. Prime Time already is taken, and even less suitable.

Murray is the anti-Deion, all substance and no style. Plus, he went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts Tuesday night, before the clock struck 12 in Game 3 of the World Series.

Eddie Murphy's new movie is "The Vampire in Brooklyn."

Murray can make a sequel, "The Vampire in Cleveland."

A silent film, of course.

Anyway, back to 12:42 a.m.

Eleventh inning, none out, runners on first and second. Murray, 39, baring his fangs at Atlanta reliever Alejandro Pena, 36.

Calling Dr. Midnight. . . .

"When he came to the plate, I looked up at the scoreboard and saw he was 0-for-5," Indians catcher Sandy Alomar said. "Very rarely do you see Eddie Murray go 0-for-6."

Very rarely?

Try hardly ever.

The last time it happened was Oct. 1, 1989, when Murray was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Six years, two teams and nearly 1,000 hits ago.

Murray dug in from the left side, the fans chanting, the temperature dropping, the winds swirling.

Pena threw a first-pitch fastball.

Murray lined a single to center.

Indians 7, Braves 6.

"Eddie can have some real ugly-looking swings," Indians hitting coach Charlie Manuel said, "and then all of a sudden he can rise to the occasion.

"He's done it his whole career. He stays tension-free. He doesn't let bad at-bats affect him. The way he goes about his business speaks for itself."

Of course it does.

You didn't expect Murray to speak, did you?

He waved off an on-field TV interview just after the game-winning hit and couldn't be dragged into the interview room -- heaven forbid. But Murray answered questions for an Indians public relations official, and his responses were distributed on pink mimeograph paper.

What follows is the entire text of this breathless interview.

Q: Comment on the pitch you hit to knock in the winning run.

A: It was a first-pitch fastball. It was middle-in. I was looking for a fastball in that situation.

Q: Comment on the Indians' win.

A: It's good to get this one over with. We worked pretty hard. It should have been over with a lot sooner. This one would have been hard to swallow, but we stopped them a few times. This is a great one to win and hopefully we'll turn this one around.

Q: Is this the kind of win to propel the Indians to a championship?

A: This is a great win, period. It's nice to get this little World Series jinx over with, and get on with the Series.

Q: Comment on the Indians' chances with Game 4 starter Ken Hill.

A: Ken Hill has been great for us in the playoffs and should give us quality innings tomorrow.

Encore!

Don't you love how Murray called it a "little World Series jinx?"

Yo, Eddie, the last time the Indians won a Series game was eight years before you were born.

Whatever, Dr. Midnight is paid to hit, not talk. Reporters don't mind when he gives them the silent treatment. They're just amused by the lengths Murray will go to avoid them. It's not like he's Albert Belle, or something.

No one can deny that Murray is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the great clutch hitters in history. Now, at last, he has added a vintage World Series moment to his portfolio.

Murray entered last night's game a lifetime .190 hitter in the Series, with four homers and eight RBIs in 58 at-bats. He was 4-for-26 for the Orioles in '79, and not much better in '83, until hitting two homers in the fifth and final game.

12:42 a.m., that's when he struck in Game 3. It not only was one of the biggest hits of his career, it was one of the biggest hits in Indians history.

Call him Dr. Midnight.

The vampire in Cleveland.

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