LDS Church member Dale Murphy has been honored as one of eight "Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Year" by Sports Illustrated.
In a departure from its 34-year tradition of choosing a single top sports figure or team for the year just ending, the magazine, in its Dec. 21, 1987, issue, selected eight "of the many athletes who honor sport by helping others." Murphy, an all-star outfielder for the Atlanta Braves and member of the Roswell 1st Ward in suburban Atlanta, Ga., was named along with Judi Brown King and Kip Keino from track; Chip Rives and Reggie Williams from football; Rory Sparrow from basketball; Bob Bourne from ice hockey; and Patty Sheehan from golf.In the article about Murphy, headlined "A Man Who Can't Say No," writer Peter Gammons highlights the LDS ballplayer's involvement with his family, the Church and a seemingly endless list of charities, all this while being "one of the best half dozen players in the major leagues."
Gammons quotes Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves general manager: "Murph gets as much respect as anyone I've ever known, because he lives his life the way we all wish we lived ours."
Murphy responds in the article by saying he only wishes he could do more. "It's just hard to do what I'd like to do and still raise my family [which includes wife Nancy and five sons under the age of 8] and fulfill my responsibility to the Braves. But to serve one's fellow man is to serve the Lord, and to serve is perfect freedom."
Murphy's Church service has included being a counselor in the elders' quorum presidency and teaching an early-morning seminary class during the baseball off-season.
In an introductory article in Sports Illustrated, noted author Frank Deford commented on the generally negative image of the modern-day athlete, then added, speaking of a group of which the eight honored athletes represent, "These stalwarts are, instead, generous and caring, charitable and devoted, responsible; they are dear hearts, noble men and women; they are, at the last, good sports."
The Murphys flew to Washington, D.C., to receive the award at a special brunch Jan. 4. Afterwards, they and the other athletes had the opportunity to meet with President Ronald Reagan at the White House.
"This award is a thrill that doesn't compare with the statistical awards athletes receive," Murphy said after returning from Washington. "And meeting with President Reagan and the other athletes was really a highlight."
The Braves recently signed Murphy to a three-year contract that extends through the 1990 season.