SALT LAKE CITY — Before Tuesday's Salt Lake Bees game, two-time NL MVP and seven time All-Star Dale Murphy sat outside Smith's Ballpark greeting fans and signing autographs. One such fan knew of Murphy, not from his baseball days, but from his post-baseball life.
She handed Murphy a phone with her brother on the line. Her brother knew the baseball legend because of what he did out in a different field, one where he called Murphy "President" and Murphy called him "Elder."
Murphy, who makes his home in Alpine, spent his Tuesday night at the Bees' home field as part of the Mobil Super "Go the Distance" tour. While Salt Lake fell to Tacoma 14-7, baseball fans had plenty to cheer about before the game as Murphy spent time taking photographs, talking with baseball lovers, and reminiscing on his life experiences — in all aspects of his life.
"While you're playing it's kind of hard to accommodate things (like fan interactions)," Murphy said. "But when you're done for 20 years it's nice to be able to sign a few autographs."
It's been two decades since Murphy last stepped into a major league batter's box, but he hasn't taken much time to rest.
From 1997-2000, Murphy presided over the Massachusetts Boston Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Being on a mission, or serving as a mission president, is hard to compare to anything," Murphy said. "I think one of the things as a mission president is stamina and I think with a baseball schedule, playing 162 games maybe that's the thing that helped me the most. It's just like anything else, you go at it and don't know quite what you are doing. I didn't know what I was doing, but I worked at it and had a great experience. The missionaries were unbelievable. Their sacrifice and hard work was very motivating for me."
Murphy was introduced to the LDS faith while in the minor leagues by teammate Barry Bonnell. During his time greeting fans Tuesday he was reminded of his learning of the church.
A woman approached Murphy and asked if he knew a Ron Nelson.
"Yeah, that's one of the missionaries that taught me the discussions," Murphy responded.
Murphy was born in Oregon and played the majority of his MLB career in Atlanta, but he and his family call Utah home. Murphy and his wife Nancy have eight kids and though he has had a life full of accomplishments, he says nothing compares to his family.
"Things that happen on a baseball field were fun and exciting," Murphy said. "But I don't think there's anything like the joy you feel when you get to see your kids do things and succeed and go through the ups and downs of life."
Murphy will create another memory later this month. He plans to take a trip to Oakland to visit his son Jake as he begins his first NFL training camp with the Raiders.
Rainiers 14, Bees 7
In short: Bee starter Justin Thomas lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up 10 hits and nine runs, digging Salt Lake into a hole it couldn't recover from, falling to Tacoma 14-7 Tuesday.
Next up: Tacoma at Salt Lake, Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.
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