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Joyful Carter, somber Murray voted into Hall

Catcher in on sixth try, while first baseman, a ballot newcomer, has honor tempered by sister's death.

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 8, 2003

NEW YORK -- When Cooperstown came calling for Gary Carter and Eddie Murray, they answered in vastly different ways.

Carter shouted and punched the air in joy when he heard the words "Hall of Fame."

Murray could hardly speak, but for a much more somber reason.

The only switch-hitter with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, Murray became the 38th player to be elected to the Hall in his first year of eligibility Tuesday.

The steady, silent first baseman of the Baltimore Orioles could not enjoy the moment. Later in the day in Southern California, he was to attend the funeral of his sister, who died Thursday at 38.

"Unfortunately, I cannot speak with you today because of the passing of my younger sister, Tanja, after her long-fought battle with kidney disease," Murray said in a statement.

"Although I dedicated my professional career to the game, I have dedicated my life to my family. The elation I feel by being recognized for my achievements on the field is overshadowed by the anguish of losing someone so dear to me."

Always exuberant, Carter made it on his sixth try. An 11-time All-Star catcher with Montreal and the New York Mets, he may become the first player inducted with an Expos cap on his plaque.

"I got overly excited and screamed," Carter said. "Now we can do a little celebrating."

Murray easily exceeded the 75 percent necessary for election, getting chosen on 85 percent of the ballots (423 of 496).

Carter got in with 78 percent (387). He fell 11 votes short last year at 72.7 percent.

Murray and Carter played for Los Angeles in 1991. They became the sixth set of teammates to be elected together; Minnesota's Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield made it in 2001.

No one else came close in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Carryover candidates Bruce Sutter, Jim Rice and Andre Dawson were around 50 percent, and first-timers Ryne Sandberg and Lee Smith didn't reach that. Darryl Kile, the St. Louis pitcher who died last season, got token support.

Pete Rose, ineligible for the ballot because he's on baseball's permanently banned list, got 18 write-in votes, the same as last year. Rose and commissioner Bud Selig's aides have been negotiating terms of a possible reinstatement.

The reconfigured Veterans Committee, which is considering former manager Whitey Herzog, former union head Marvin Miller and many others, will announce its voting results Feb. 26.

Induction ceremonies will be July 27 in Cooperstown, the small village in upstate New York. Murray and Carter bring the Hall's total to 256 members.

Carter's father, Jim, turns 85 three weeks before the festivities.

"He was beyond words," said Carter, the 13th catcher to make the Hall. "I know how much it means to him."

Murray, currently the Indians hitting coach, was an eight-time All-Star and finished with 504 homers and 3,255 hits in 21 seasons. Hank Aaron and Willie Mays are the only other players in the 500-3,000 club.

He hit 19 career grand slams, second to Lou Gehrig's 23, and played a record 2,413 games at first base. Murray batted .287 overall and homered twice for the Orioles in the clinching Game 5 of the 1983 World Series.

Murray never led the league in hitting, homers or RBIs, was never an MVP and never was friendly with the media.

"He didn't want all the accolades," Carter said. "He just wanted to go about his business."

But there was no mistaking how much he meant to his teammates. When Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak, he singled out a very few people to thank, and Murray was one of them.

Around the majors

RANGERS: Outfielder Juan Gonzalez had successful outpatient surgery in Puerto Rico late last month to remove a fatty mass from his chest.

REDS: Manager Bob Boone has a prime candidate to play second base: his son. Starting third baseman Aaron Boone has agreed to switch to second. That will keep Barry Larkin at shortstop and clear the way for rookie Brandon Larson to start at third.

RED SOX: Boston has reached a tentative agreement with free-agent third baseman Bill Mueller, who could get the starting job if Shea Hillenbrand is traded.

ROYALS: Former Rays right-hander Albie Lopez agreed to a $1.5-million, one-year contract.

OBITUARY: Eugene Litman, a real estate developer who was a Pirates minority owner since the mid 1980s, died Monday of respiratory failure. He was 87.

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