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Originally Written July 29, 2000
(but still holds true today)

Why Bobby Murcer Should Be 
In the Hall of Fame

And Graig Nettles Even More So!

There are only ten third basemen in the baseball Hall of Fame, by far the least of any position. There are guys in there like Fred Lindstrom and Pie Traynor and George Kell, and well-known greats like Frank "Home Run" Baker, Brooks Robinson, Eddie Matthews, George Brett, and Mike Schmidt. Graig Nettles is clearly in the company of the players there. I'm sorry but who'd you rather have on your team -- Fred "Who?" Lindstrom or Graig Nettles? Like Brooks Robinson, Nettles was one of the great defensive third basemen of all time. Incredibly, he only won two gold gloves (the same amount that Wade Boggs won as a Yankee) -- they used to give it to Buddy Bell every year in the late seventies and early eighties even though Nettles was at least his equal. Like Robinson, Nettles won a World Series with his defense, although to much less fanfare. Robinson became a household name in 1970 for his defensive heroics in the World Series. Nettles' heroics came in 1978, when he speared line drive after line drive with acrobatic, ballet dives to his left, or behind him to his right down the third base line, and then would come the perfect lob throw to first to always just nab the runner. 

You always felt that Nettles could gun the ball to first to beat any runner by a mile, but was so good he'd toy with everyone -- runners, fans, and George Steinbrenner alike -- in casually launching his semi-arc to first, perfectly timed to just beat the runner by a stride, every time.

At the plate, Nettles had league leading power -- he led the league once in homers (32 in '76) and just missed once (37 in '77), and perennially was amongst the top 5 to 7 in the league in homers, even though that number was generally in the twenties. His average was usually around .250. Now before you dismiss those numbers, remember that the ball was dead -- D E A D -- dead in the seventies. It was so dead, they invented the designated hitter. It was so dead, they seriously thought about introducing orange baseballs at night games so the hitters could see the ball. So Nettles' .250 would probably be a .280 average today. And his 20-something homeruns would be 40-something every year today. And if he did that, how many career home runs would he have hit? As it was, he approached 400, finishing with 390. That's a lot of homeruns for a player who played in the dead-ball 70's. There are only two third basemen in history who finished with more homeruns than Nettles -- Mike Schmidt and Eddie Matthews. Nettles holds the American League record for homeruns by a third baseman (319)! He's also currently 24th all-time in games played with 2700. Think about that -- of all the players to ever play major league baseball, only 23 have played more games than Nettles -- and he played most of them at freakin' third base, the hot corner, playing great defense there to boot.

Murcer Trivia

Murcer once hit a homerun (or maybe it was two doubles) for a kid in the hospital. The stupid announcer said that the kid was dieing. The kid was watching/listening to the game on TV/radio and it was news to him that he was dieing. The mom said it turned out to be a bad night. The good news is the kid didn't die. -- submitted by John Letizia

Murcer's uniform number was #1 during much of his first stay with the Yankees. When he was traded back to them in the late seventies, he took #2 because Billy Martin had #1 at that point. 

What About Bobby Murcer?

Which brings us to Bobby Murcer... if Graig Nettles belongs in the hall of fame, as I've surely proven, what do you do with Bobby Murcer? Murcer was the star of the Yankees throughout the early seventies -- not Nettles. Murcer was the straw that stirred the Yankees' fourth-place drink; Munson was number 2 star, and Nettles was number 3. Murcer was the next Mickey Mantle, the hope of the future for a baseball franchise that was mired in mediocrity and was being mismanaged by middle management at CBS. None other then Ted Williams described Murcer in 1972 as baseball's best chance for a triple crown (leading the league in homers, rbis, and average).

People talk about Bernie Williams as the consummate star these days; the current-day DiMaggio, combining centerfield defense with hitting for average with hitting for power. I don't deny that -- remember, DiMaggio played in the lively-ball 30's and 40's, so Williams lively-ball-90's statistics compare well to DiMaggio's. Williams won the batting title in 1998, hitting .334 with 26 homers and 96 RBI, his best overall season until this year. Ironically, those were almost identical numbers to Murcer's 1971 campaign, when he hit .331 with 25 homers and 94 RBI. But those were the dead-ball 70's remember. Murcer nearly led the league in all categories, sparking Ted Williams' comments. Those numbers projected in today's lively- ball era might equate to like 45-50 homers and 140 RBI and a .355 batting average. Do you think a Yankee centerfielder putting up those numbers today would be the talk of baseball?

Murcer has been quoted as saying if he hadn't been traded by the Yankees, and played his whole career at Yankee Stadium, he would have made the Hall of Fame. Sounds insane, but you know what, he's not far off, especially if he didn't play ball in the dead-ball '70's. Still, those are big 'ifs'. Murcer was traded, a bunch of times. He didn't play in the '90's. He finished with 252 homers and a .277 lifetime average. Tough luck Bobby.

Why Tony Perez?

So now Tony Perez has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. This galls me. Why Tony Perez?  Was Perez better than Murcer? No. Was he better than Nettles? No way. And yet Nettles never comes close to getting one tenth the votes necessary for induction. What gives? Tony Perez was a nice first basemen. No defensive responsibilities there. His job was to hit. He hit 379 homeruns to Nettles' 390. Perez was mostly known as a big RBI man. He drove in 1,652 RBI on the big Red machine; Nettles 1,314. Perez hit .279; Nettles .248. But Nettles played third, an important defensive position, and played it with style. No contest.

Hey, you want to know who the Yankees recently named as greatest all time third baseman in the history of their illustrious team? Graig Nettles. 'Nough said.

--LouV

Update: As of July 27, 2014 -- Graig Nettles STILL holds the American League record for home runs by a 3rd baseman -- 319.

Tell Us What You Think: If you'd like to respond to this article, click here.

The Readers Respond

Wow, came across this blog by chance and it meant a great deal to me. I loved both Murcer and Nettles. I cried when my father told me Murcer got traded and Nettles is my all time favorite Yankee. Growing up in the 1970s was filled with both these guys. I have always hoped Nettles would get into the Hall.

-- William Krebs

Valhalla, NY, USA

 

Did you know that Graig Nettles is going to be the guest retired Yankee at the Mickey Mantle Classic in April (2012) which is held behind the high school Mickey went to in Commerce, OK? The Classic is a baseball tournament of high school teams where they use only wood bats. The bats come from Hoosier Bat Company in Valparaiso, Indiana. Many major league players have used the Hoosier wooden bats. Like Sammy Sosa in his home-run race against McGuire. Sammy hit #62-63 and 64 with it as I recall.

 

Graig will be on hand to meet fans and sign autographs plus he will be at the awards banquet on Saturday night. I know I will be going and you should check out the Classic on the Mickey Mantle Classic website at www.mickeymantleclassic.com.

 

-- Lance Burris

Plainfield, Indiana

 

I loved this article! I thought Bobby Murcer was a class act as a player and a broadcaster! I have met many Yankees and ball players but I never met Bobby Murcer in person. I wish I would have met him! :( It was very sad to see him pass so young.

-- Jerry Grimes

Brooklyn, NY

 

I have been on this crusade for years . If you think about some of the guys that got in , and some rather easily like Ozzie Smith it can make you sick. Smith got in for his defense . Nettles is one of the greatest of all time fielding his position but put up superior stats to some of the guys already in. He belongs in and we need to do something about it. Nettles HOF ! What do we need to do to help ?

-- Mark Willey
Milford, Connecticut

 

I loved your site. I grew up a Yankees fan in Virginia and loved Murcer and Nettles. Nettles clearly belongs in the Hall of Fame. I think his antics involving reporters over the years resulted in him not getting votes for the Hall of Fame. Hopefully, the veterans committee will correct this oversight. 

-- Woody Anderson
Norfolk, VA

 

As a kid growing up in central NJ I wore # 9 for one reason and one reason only: Graig Nettles. I idolized the man; the way he played the hot corner and handled pitchers was a thing of beauty; he was a magnet at the bag -- nothing got by him. So I wore # 9 and played 3rd base all through high school & my men's league. He should be in the Hall of Fame as much as anyone; case closed.

LP Smith
Bangor, Pennsylvania
 

 

Graig is my favorite player of all time. He should be in the Hall of Fame without a doubt, and his number is not retired by the Yankees but for Roger Maris when it should be for both.

--Jeff
 

 

I like the article, and I really appreciated Greg Nettles! Man he played on the dream team with Reggie Jackson! To me regardless that was the best Yankee team ever! Yes, put Greg in the Hall of Fame -- Please do!!!!!

-- Monte Petersen
Greenwich, CT USA
 

 

Bobby Murcer was the reason I loved baseball so much. I lived in DC, but would visit Yankee Stadium with my grandfather (who lived in Manhattan). And in the early 70's, when I was between 10-14, nobody was better than Bobby Murcer.

And I remember being so annoyed when he barely lost out to Tony Oliva for the batting title.

RIP Bobby.

-- Andrew Kennedy
Washington DC, USA
 

 

I understand your feelings about Graig Nettles and I think a better argument can be made that he is better than Bill Mazerowski who is in the Hall. Don't get me wrong, we loved Bobby Murcer (my wife's favorite player ever) and think he was not only an outstanding ball player but a terrific human being.  However, Bobby doesn't merit consideration for the Hall of Fame and was not better than Tony Perez.  Don Mattingly's #s are very much similar to Kirby Puckett's and he and Thurman deserve consideration.

Chuck and Randi McGivney
 

 

My name is Charles P. Nettles and I can remember my dad telling me when I was a kid that we had a cousin that played M.L.B. I asked him 'well, who is he' and my dad said Graig Nettles. I might have responded something like 'well I would like to meet him at a family reunion'. My dad said that he didn't know where he was. Graig looks like one of my grandfather's brothers. I would like to find out
what side of the Nettles he is from? My dad was a vet in St.Tammany Parish for 28 years and was born in McComb, Ms. and his uncles where from Auburn, Ms. and Summit, Ms. plus all over the state of Mississippi. If you know who John "Webb" Nettles is or Dr. C.P. Nettles D.V.M. please email me [see editor's note]. I would like to hear from you so if you are not too busy please drop me a line or two
.
 

-- Charles Nettles
Folsom, Louisiana

Editor's Note: We have published this letter so that, in the event Graig Nettles reads it, he can get in contact with Charles. We do not post email addresses on this board, but if Graig Nettles would like to contact Charles, we will facilitate through the Contact Us form.

 

BOBBY MURCER -- A BALLPLAYER'S BALLPLAYER.

-- Kenny Naughton
Northport, New York

 

NICE WORDS ABOUT MURCER, A CLASS GUY.

-- LARRY G./ L.B., N.Y.

 

Great article.  I came across your website after Googling "Nettles hall of fame."  I was talking about this at work yesterday.  Nettles absolutely deserves to be there.  Why is defense always overlooked?  It bothers me that Reggie Jackson, a one-dimensional player, was a shoe-in and Nettles always gets overlooked.  (Jackson was a great HR hitter, but was a defensive liability.)  Ask any player or coach from the 70's Yankees who they would rather have on their team (Nettles and Jackson), I bet 100% would pick Graig.

Frank Notaro
Metuchen, NJ

 

Bobby Ray Murcer -- RIP

You made me realize I had a heart when I was 4 -- What a crush I had on you -- Dad had me watching the Yankees since I can barely remember -- You were the reason I kept watching -- Your record speaks for itself -- So whether they decide to put you in their Hall of Fame or not -- You will be in the Hall of Hearts for thousands to cherish -- Thank you Bobby Ray Murcer for filling my life with true All American Ideals. My deepest repects for your families loss and finally.

At the All Stars? THEY SHOULD HAVE SPENT MORE TIME DEVOTED TO YOUR MEMORY THEN THEY DID.

There, enough said

A female fan since 1969

-- Tami Palladino
Brooklyn, NY

 

I ran across your site while looking for Bobby Murcer info. Great site! Enjoyed "Willie" and being on the fence!

I specially enjoyed the Oldsmobile article as the marquee has many fond memories for me. The first car I drove was a '48 Olds convert with three on the tree. I took my driver's test with a '56 and the first car I ever got it on with a fem was in (ample interior room) an Olds.

Oh yeah....the Bobby Murcer and Graig Nettles stuff was good too. Remember when he cut his hand doing some gardening? Martin (?) told him he made enough to hire a landscaper!

-- JZ
Longwood, FL (lifelong NYer)

 

I grew up a Graig Nettles fan. To me there was no one better. He was a hard ass. Tough for fans to get to. Even myself as a fan of 10 years old. I finally got him to sign my copy of Balls just 3 years ago. I was so happy I could not even speak to him. My greatest Yankee ever. I am now 40. What a glove.

-- Tim Brown

 

Clicked on BobbyMurcer.com to see how he is doing; your site came up..

Anyone who watched the Yankees knows Murcer and Nettles should be in the Hall of Fame!!!!!! Bless both of them as they blessed us as Yanks!!!!

-- J George
Rome, NY

 

Great website. There are more Murcer fans than people realize. He was my boyhood hero, and off the field, a class act. 

-- Super Tizzy

 

After The Mick limped off into the sunset in March of '69, Bobby Ray became my ( and my buddy Chuck's) center of affection on River Ave. The Yanks couldn't draw flies in the early 70's, but we were there 35-50 games a year as teenagers.

In those days, players were still accessible and still working class heroes. I hung out many a time after another Yankee loss watching Rusty Torres drive out of the players lot in has jacked up Plymouth or "Rocky" Swoboda tool away in his beat up white VW Beetle. 

Yet it was Murcer, although an All-Star and true star nationally, who always had time to talk to us and give out an autograph (not for E-Bay purposes, but as a prized FAN possession). I was there against the Rangers when he hit for the cycle the first game of a doubleheader, and a single and a homer in the nightcap, and when he hit 3 homers against KC. I witnessed him swing and miss pitifully against his nemisis, lefty Norm Angelini. When I was given a game-used bat in '74 (complete with pinetar) he graciously signed it and is my most prized Yankee artifact. At this moment waiting for news on his neurosurgery, we can only hope that Bobby has a full recovery allowing us to continue to acknowledge his genuine humanity as a person, not secondary to the wonderful memories he has provided to millions of Yankee fans over the decades.

-- David Zimmerman
Huntington, NY

 

 

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