Murray gets first crack at O's job

Hall of Famer leads off interview process for vacant managerial spot

October 02, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Leading off for the Orioles: Eddie Murray.

Two months after getting inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as an Oriole, Murray will be the first to interview for the team's vacant managerial post today, in a highly anticipated session at the B&O warehouse with team vice presidents Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan.

Yesterday, the Orioles tried to downplay the significance of having Murray go first, but Murray and Orioles bench coach Sam Perlozzo are considered the leading candidates for the job.

"I had known for quite some time that [Murray] usually comes back through Baltimore right at the end of the season," Flanagan said. "He's got connections here, and then he heads home [to California].

"So he's available, he's going to be in town, and that's the way we're going to go about scheduling most of the interviews - when it's convenient and when they can get in."

Murray will likely be the only candidate to interview until Oct. 13. Flanagan and Beattie will be at the organizational meetings this weekend in Sarasota, Fla., and Beattie will be gone next week on a trip he planned months ago to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.

But the Orioles still intend to interview several candidates, including Perlozzo and Orioles first base coach Rick Dempsey. Other names on their list include Triple-A Ottawa manager Gary Allenson, Milwaukee Brewers bench coach Rich Dauer and New York Yankees third base coach Willie Randolph.

To accommodate all the media following the search, the Orioles are taking the unique step of making the candidates available to the press on the day of their interviews.

So Murray will be back in the spotlight today, in an afternoon news conference, two months after opening his Hall induction speech with these words: "Ted Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame 37 years ago, and he said he must have earned it because he didn't win it because of his friendship with writers. I guess in that way I'm proud to be in his company today."

Murray went on to explain.

"I didn't have the friendship with the media that I could have had," he said, "but I had to do what I had to do to be successful [on the field]."

As a player, Murray didn't want the distractions, and he didn't want to say anything that might give an opponent the edge.

As a manager, Murray will be expected to face the press twice a day from the start of spring training through the end of the season.

"We didn't come up with this in deference to Eddie," Flanagan said. "But that's just the way we decided we would conduct the whole interview process, just to make it fair, and make these guys accessible to [the press]."

After playing 12 1/2 of his 21 seasons with the Orioles, Murray retired in 1997 and joined the Orioles' coaching staff for the next four years. He spent two seasons as Ray Miller's bench coach, and two seasons as Mike Hargrove's first-base coach before leaving to become the Cleveland Indians' hitting coach.

Murray's only managerial experience came in the Arizona Fall League in 1999.

Over the years, Hall of Fame players haven't always made the best managers.

Williams, for one, went 273-364 in three seasons with the Washington Senators and one with the Texas Rangers.

In Cooperstown, N.Y., Murray spoke of the difficulties he has had relating to the modern-day ballplayer.

"I don't think a lot of kids care to play 162 [games per season]," Murray said. "I have a problem sometimes dealing with what goes on out there because of the way I think. And you can't fault everyone because they didn't grow up with some of the things I had."

But he tested his ability to teach young players this year, with a Cleveland team that used 21 rookies and finished with 18 first-year players on the roster.

"I have finally started to see that light coming on in about four kids that we've got there," Murray said. "It's nice to just see them grow up."

Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro endorsed Murray's candidacy for the Orioles job.

"He evolved and grew as a hitting coach [this season]," Shapiro told the Associated Press. "He had seven, eight and nine rookies in the lineup every day.

"By the end of the year, he had the majority of them making improvements."

And the Oriole ties are unmistakable. Asked in Cooperstown to name some of his greatest influences, Murray mentioned two former Orioles managers.

"I couldn't have had a better first manager than Earl [Weaver], but I learned a lot from Cal Ripken, Sr.," he said. "That was some tough love there. You just had to figure out how his love was directed, and how he went about it. ... He was good."

NOTES: Orioles owner Peter Angelos threw an appreciation party for Murray in Cooperstown this summer. But even Hargrove has been touched by Angelos' generosity. A few hours after being fired Monday, Hargrove said, "In the 13 years I've managed in the big leagues, I've been fortunate to be able to manage for two of the game's best owners, Dick Jacobs [in Cleveland] and Peter Angelos. I was in shock when I first got here and read some of the things that were written about Mr. Angelos."

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