On June 6, 1992, New York Mets first baseman Eddie Murray drives in the 1,510th run of his career, and breaks Mickey Mantle’s record for career RBIs (runs batted in) by a switch hitter.
Eddie Clarence Murray was born February 24, 1956, the eighth of 12 children, in Los Angeles, California. Murray’s parents had migrated from Mississippi, intent on giving their children a better life away from the fields they grew up working. Eddie’s mentor was his oldest brother Charlie, who was the first of four Murray boys to sign a professional baseball contract. As a child, Eddie Murray was the star of his little league team, the Chiefs, which was forced to find a new practice field on which to prepare for the Little League playoffs when riots erupted in Murray’s Watts neighborhood in 1965. Murray went on to play baseball at Locke High School in Los Angeles, where he was a teammate of Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith.
After being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round in 1973, Murray was sent to Double A Asheville in North Carolina, where he went from batting right-handed to switch-hitting. He made the majors in 1977 and was named Rookie of the Year for his performance hitting clean up for the Orioles under manager Earl Weaver. The team went on to win the American League in 1979, but lost in the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1983, this time under Manager Joe Altobelli, the Orioles returned to the Series, and Murray homered twice in Game 5 to help the Orioles clinch the championship. Throughout the 1980s, the chant of “Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die…” rocked Memorial Stadium, and Murray rarely disappointed. In the American League, only Kansas City third baseman George Brett rivaled Murray for clutch hits to win games.
Murray was traded from the Orioles to his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1988 season. After four successful years in L.A., he signed with the Mets prior to the 1992 season. That June, Murray broke Mantle’s record with a lack of fanfare that was characteristic of his career. Murray toasted his success in the locker room with teammates afterward, but there were no public celebrations and few words for the press, with whom he had a contentious relationship throughout his career. Still, his consistency at the plate—he drove in 75 or more home runs for 20 seasons in a row—endeared him to his teammates and fans everywhere.
Murray played for the Dodgers, Mets, and Indians, did a second stint with the Orioles, and finished his career in 1997 with the Anaheim Angels. He was the third player in history, after Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, to end his career with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. He set a big league record by homering from both sides of the plate in the same game 11 times. He holds the major league record for games played at first base and for assists by a first baseman. He won three Gold Glove Awards at first base, and was named an All-Star eight times.
Eddie Murray was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 in his first year of eligibility.
Also on this day: On June 6, 1945, all Major League Baseball games are cancelled due to the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II.