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September 10, 1996 - Image 13

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-10

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Tt_ s[! L<!.. ._ r%-!1.. 'r--t- P rt L A f% A^t'%f_'l An

SPR TS '"T '-e Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 10, 16 -
Sporting Views:
urray deserves attention, praise for monumental accomplishment

13

By Will McCahill
Daily Sports Writer
ti the lexicon of baseball, they are
two of the biggest names.
Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
Names which conjure -up images
long home runs flying through the
oist Atlanta air, or of spectacular,
diving catches.
Aaron and Mays were, until
recently, the only two players in the
history of the great game to compile
at least 3,000 hits and 500 homers.
Lbast Friday night in Baltimore, a
newcomer etched his name onto the
duo's rock of ages. When Eddie
4urray knocked one into the right-
~ield seats at Camden Yards, he
"4tered a very elite crowd.
The spotlight had been very bright
and very hot on the 40-year-old
Nurray in the weeks leading up to
t4e Big Knock, and anyone who fol-
lows baseball must certainly feel
soine of his relief.
For those of us who have followed

Murray for a while, there is certainly
that relief, but also a sense of accom-
plishment and satisfaction at seeing
him reach this unthinkably high
plateau.
When I first started following
baseball at the tender age of seven, I
so happened to be living in a suburb
of Washington, DC.
That area having lost not one but
two baseball franchises of its own,
the logical choice for the young fan
was to follow the Orioles. And what
an enjoyable club they were to fol-
low, too.
There was Jim Palmer, the great
hurler with the brilliant smile, and
fellow pitcher Mike Flanagan. The
popular (and future Ironman) Cal
Ripken Jr. was at short, and leading
the O's into battle was their cantan-
kerous manager, Earl Weaver.
And of course, Eddie Murray.
Back in those days, Murray was a
first baseman, so you got to see a lit-
tle more of him than just a trip to the

plate every couple of innings. There
he stood, at the end of the first 90
feet from home plate, a rather men-
acing presence to opponents and (to
me at least) fans alike.
With his white, orange and black
cap perched on top of his Afro and a
big, burly mustache drooping under
his nose, Murray was somehow an
irresistible figure on that team,
someone you might be scared to
shake hands with in person but just
loved for what he could do to those
nasty Brewers or Yankees.
The first baseball game I ever went
to was at old Memorial Stadium, way
back at the end of the 1982 season.
Baltimore and Milwaukee finished
tied for first in the American League
East, and so the Brewers came to
town for a one-game playoff.
I could not have been more excited
about going to the game. I remember
that getting there was somewhat of a
hassle, but that meant nothing to me
then, and means even less now.

All I could think of was that I was
finally going to get to see this team,
these players in person. No matter
that we would be seeing them from
the upper deck - I had the whole
orange outfit on, I got my father to
buy me a pennant, the works - I was
set.
Unfortunately, the O's weren't
quite able to pull it out that day.
Murray and the rest of my heroes
couldn't stop the Brew Crew, who
rolled to a 10-1 victory.
The game, however, turned out to
be Weaver's last game at the helm, or
so we all thought. He came out of
retirement a few years later, and I
remember standing for what seemed
like hours as the crowd roared for
Earl, a mere speck down there on the
field.
For me, Eddie Murray is complete-
ly intertwined with all the warm-
and-fuzzy memories of growing up a
baseball fan. Whether the conversa-
tion was about last night's game or

that week's pack of baseball cards, he
was sure to come up. The theft of one
of my Eddie Murray cards still
remains one of the darker days of my
life.
In the mid-80s, Eddie and I went
our separate ways. My father's job
took us overseas, and squabbles with
Orioles' ownership took Eddie to the
National League. I ended up losing a
firm grip on baseball in general and
the Orioles in particular. When I
finally returned to the States, Eddie
was with the Dodgers, and, having
ended up in Boston, was a boy with-
out a team.
And although, in the interim, I've
become somewhat partial to the hap-
less Red Sox, I have never been able
to re-kindle the passion for the game
of baseball and for a particular base-
ball team that Eddie Murray and
those great Oriole teams helped
light. Maybe it's the cynicism of age,
or maybe it's that the Red Sox
weren't good enough or inspiring

enough.
I couldn't have been more pleased
when the Indians traded Murray back
to the Orioles in July, and I've since
watched him and the Orioles with a
certain fascination.
I felt bad for him, too, as the spot
light train in on him, much the same
way I felt for Ripken as he chased the
consecutive-games streak last sea
son.
I'm glad Eddie finally hit dinger
No. 500. Now he can be mentioned
in the same breath as Aaron and
Mays in the record books, like he is
in my own personal books.
,But more importantly for him, he
and the team can now get back to the
job they really want to focus on, gets
ting to the playoffs.
Maybe his pursuit of greatness
will have captured the imagination of
fans, much the way it has captured
mine.
Because God knows, it's some-
thing baseball really needs.

texas Tech tailback runs over
opposition, rushes for 272 yards

PHOTOGRAPHERS

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - While Byron Hanspard was
going by a lot of Oklahoma State tacklers, he was also
passing some very impressive names of great running
backs.
The junior tailback from Texas Tech ran for 272 yards
turday at Texas Stadium, a yardage figure not reached
t the likes of Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett and Emmitt
Smith, each of whom has called that
building home at one time or anoth-
pr.,~ 1eS I
Dickerson had set the Texas
Stadium collegiate record of 241 lived up
yards when he was at Southern
Methodist in 1982. He got to see billing a,
Hanspard on Saturday as part of the
television announcing team. t$ be
'Oklahoma State coach Bob
immons also saw the performance con feree
in the Red Raiders' 31-3 victory, one
which earned Hanspard Big 12 play-
er of the week honors. His 72-yard Oklahon
run in the first quarter was a staple coach,
over the weekend in highlight pack-
ages.
"He's more than lived up to his
billing as one of the best in this conference," Simmons
said yesterday, though he added that Hanspard's numbers
ould have been smaller "if we could tackle."
Texas Tech offensive coordinator Rick Dykes, the son
of head coach Spike Dykes and the Dallas-area recruiter
who c.onvinced Hanspard to head to Lubbock, said he

knows the difference between a great run and a blown
defensive play.
"I keep hearing that, and yet he keeps putting those
numbers on everybody," Dykes said.
Hanspard, a 6-foot, 190-pounder, led Texas Tech's
explosive offense last season and the Red Raiders' pass-

Interview and Po'rtfo

I

I

0

ing problems this
more than
to his
s one of
inl this
rice"
- Bob Simmons
-na State football
on Texas Tech's
Byron Hanspard

year haven't reduced his output, even
though everyone knows who is
getting the ball on some plays.
The difference is that Hanspard
can hit any hole on the field, even
where big defensive tackles roam.
"In high school, (outside runs)
were all the plays I had to run,"
said Hanspard, an ordained minis-
ter who consistently deflects cred-
it to his teammates and God,
whom he has thanked for healing a
tender right ankle last week. "I
didn't have the plays to run
inside."
Hanspard's development from a
pure speed back to an all-around
_ performer has come since the mid-
dle of last season, said Dykes, who

Review

Tomorrow,

7

pm.

420 Maynard

was the running backs coach until last year.
"I think he has that combination of learning how to set
up a block, read blocks and still having that speed,"
Dykes said.
"Plus, he's added about 10 pounds so he can run
through some blocks he couldn't as a freshman."

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