Murray Says Reaching No. 3,000 Shows Palmeiro’s ‘Stubbornness’

By Jeff Barker
Updated: July 17, 2005

Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro

Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro

BALTIMORE — Eddie Murray says Rafael Palmeiro may not appreciate the magnitude of 3,000 hits until after he retires.

Murray should know.

The longtime Oriole played with Palmeiro in Baltimore in 1996. And now Murray and Palmeiro are linked again as two of only four major leaguers to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

As Palmeiro pushed toward 3,000, few were in a better position to appreciate the difficulty of the achievement than Murray, who reached the plateau with the Cleveland Indians in June 1995 after playing a dozen seasons with the Orioles and then playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets. He rejoined the Orioles during the 1996 season.

“You go through your career, and this is something you don’t even think about,” Murray said. “When you get out of the game, you look at how many people have put on the shoes and how many have achieved this.”

As much as anything, Murray said getting 3,000 hits requires a certain “stubbornness” to play through injuries and slumps.

“First, you’ve got to want to go out and play that many games,” said Murray, who played 21 seasons until 1997. “There’s a stubbornness. You’ve got to know when to ask for help. But you’ve got to know when to bite the bullet.”

Murray said he enjoyed the countdown to 3,000 with the Indians. The club hung a banner at the home stadium to mark his progress.

“That was really a fun time,” he said. “They were doing a countdown in Cleveland each time I got a hit.”

No. 3,000 came in Minnesota – a sixth-inning single off Mike Trombley.

Murray said it was tougher getting his 500th home run, which he did the next year in Baltimore. Hitting a homer is more challenging than getting a base hit, and he said he was eager to get it done. “I was like, ‘OK, OK, let’s start the game!’” Also, he said he didn’t want to hog teammate Cal Ripken’s stage.

Murray had 499 homers on Sept. 6, 1996. Warming up in the outfield before that night’s game against the Tigers, he said he turned to Ripken and said, “I’m going to do it tonight. But I don’t want to do it on the date you tied Gehrig.”

It was one year earlier on Sept. 6 that Ripken had broken Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played.

Murray hit No. 500 that night off Felipe Lira and finished his career with 504.

Murray began this season as the Indians’ hitting instructor, but was dismissed in June. He said he’s gotten a few calls about baseball jobs, but hasn’t settled on anything yet. “It will depend on what it is and who it is,” he said.

In the meantime, Murray said, “It’s been really kind of special watching [Palmeiro]” as he neared the mark.

With 566 homers, Palmeiro has a chance to part company with Murray and join a new club: 3,000 hits and 600 home runs.

“He can take it to that next level,” Murray said.