This Sept. 6, it's Murray's turn 500th career home run comes one year after Ripken set his mark

Celebration lasts 8 1/2 minutes

Joins only Mays, Aaron with 500 HRs, 3,000 hits

September 07, 1996|By Ken Rosenthal | Ken Rosenthal,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Jason LaCanfora contributed to this article.

He took three curtain calls, shook hands with fans, flashed a 500-homer smile. The celebration was not as emotional as the one last Sept. 6, but it was a fitting Eddie Murray moment. A clutch homer, a dugout full of cheering teammates, an almost private setting.

Camden Yards was half-empty when Murray hit Detroit right-hander Felipe Lira's first pitch leading off the seventh inning to join Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as the only players in major-league history to collect 3,000 hits and hit 500 homers.

Murray's homer, his first one since Aug. 30 in Seattle, rewarded ++ what was left of a crowd of 46,708, which had to wait out a rain delay of 2 hours, 20 minutes before the opening pitch.

The big moment occurred at 11: 47 p.m., on the one-year anniversary of Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games record. Confetti cannons filled the air with brilliant colors, a banner dropped from the center-field backdrop, a commemorative video played.

"Congratulations, Eddie -- 500," the banner said.

The Orioles' players met Murray at home plate, followed by the coaches and manager Davey Johnson. Murray waved to the crowd, raising one arm, then two, clearly relieved. He went 21 at-bats between his 499th and 500th homer.

Last night's homer was his 21st of the season, and ninth since the Orioles acquired him from Cleveland on July 21.

It tied the score, 3-3, but the significance of the game was temporarily forgotten while play was delayed 8 1/2 minutes for the celebration.

The crowd stood and cheered, summoning Murray out of the dugout again and again. At one point, he walked over to fans near the screen, chatting and accepting congratulations. Teammates urged him to take a Ripken-like victory lap, but he laughingly declined.

When the cheering finally stopped, he sat in the dugout next to Ripken, his longtime teammate and friend.

Murray became the 15th player in major-league history to hit 500 home runs, and the second Oriole after Frank Robinson, who finished his career with 586. The 14 other members of the 500-homer club are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

One more potential milestone awaits Murray this season -- his 20th consecutive 75-RBI season, which would extend his major-league record. Last night's home run gave Murray 68 RBIs, with 21 games remaining in the season.

The ball was caught in the right-center-field bleachers by Dan Jones, 30, of Towson.

Orioles director of business affairs Walt Gutowski met for 20 minutes with Jones at the police command station after the home run, but Jones refused to give up the ball.

"I haven't done anything," said Jones, who attended the game with 20 relatives and friends in an annual family gathering. "Everyone's asking me a million questions, pulling me in different directions. I'm going to go home to sleep on it. It's a little bit overwhelming."

When the homer went out, Mike Mussina raised his arms over his head, pumped his fists, yelled and headed for the field. Ripken crept up the dugout steps with his neck tilted to follow the path of the ball. Coach Andy Etchebarren charged up the steps without hesitation, as if he knew the whole time the ball was gone.

When Murray crossed home plate, almost the entire team was there to greet him. Scott Erickson was the last Oriole to join the huddle, and he, too, waded through the bodies to congratulate Murray.

Tigers pitcher Felipe Lira stood behind the mound and watched the festivities with his hands on his hips. Sure, it was a momentous occasion, but Murray's 500th homer had tied the game.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Detroit Tigers

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7: 05

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Tigers' Justin Thompson (1-3, 3.06) vs. Orioles' Mike Mussina (18-9, 4.80)

D8 Tickets: Bleachers and standing-room tickets remain.

500 club

1. Hank Aaron 755

2. Babe Ruth 714

3. Willie Mays 660

4. Frank Robinson 586

5. Harmon Killebrew 573

6. Reggie Jackson 563

7. Mike Schmidt 548

8. Mickey Mantle 536

9. Jimmie Foxx 534

10. Willie McCovey 521

... Ted Williams 521

12. Ernie Banks 512

... Eddie Mathews 512

14. Mel Ott 511

15. Eddie Murray 500

Exclusive company

Eddie Murray joined Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only players in major-league history to have 500 home runs and 3,000 hits:

Player ........ HRs .. Hits

Hank Aaron .... 755 .. 3,771

Willie Mays ... 660 .. 3,283

Eddie Murray .. 500 .. 3,202

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