Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ray Murray, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #322

This is Ray Murray, known to teammates and opponents as "Deacon", a man as kind and gentle as that 1,000-watt smile makes him look. He finished his six-year big league career as a backup catcher with the Orioles in their inaugural 1954 season. And in a rare start 57 years ago to the day, he got himself ejected and got his money's worth.

It was the second game of a Sunday doubleheader against the White Sox in old Comiskey Park. The O's were clinging to a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth, trying to salvage a split after dropping the first contest by that same score. Howie Fox was on the mound, and Murray was behind the plate. Ed Hurley was the balls-and-strikes ump, and he and the veteran catcher had a history. Hurley had ejected the Deacon from a game in New York when Ray suggested that the umpire had bet money on the Yankees. Murray admitted later that he heckled his nemesis throughout the day's first game from his spot on the bench, setting the stage for a confrontation. White Sox catcher Sherm Lollar led off the ninth with a walk, and Freddie Marsh ran for him. The pitcher and pinch hitter Cass Michaels fought to a full count, and Marsh broke for second on the 3-2 pitch. According to Murray, the ball came in right down the middle of the plate and he fired it to second, only to realize that Hurley had called it ball four. Realizing the futility of arguing with the man in blue, Ray calmly removed his mask and chest protector and laid them on home plate. He then dropped to his knees, opened his arms wide, looked upward, and beseeched the Lord to "help this poor S.O.B. I got two good eyes. Give him one of mine!".

There's no happy ending, of course. Murray was tossed out, replaced by regular starter Clint Courtney (who had caught all eight innings of the opener, with the game ending with the Sox ahead after the top of the ninth). Howie Fox walked the bases loaded, shortstop Billy Hunter threw away a grounder to score Marsh with the tying run, and Ferris Fain hit a walkoff single to give Chicago a 4-3 win and a doubleheader sweep. But Ray Murray put on a show.

NOTE: The anecdotal details are taken from Nash and Zullo's "The Baseball Hall of Shame 4". You can read the full story here. I was delighted to find that the story checked out with the box score.

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