Dale Murphy didn’t spend a long time with the Colorado Rockies, in fact far fewer players in the history of the franchise have ever recorded less than his 49 plate appearances over the first two months of the inaugural 1993 season.
But before Murphy turned to the Rockies for one final chance at notching two more home runs to reach 400 for for his 18 years in the Majors, there was an entire career with Atlanta as impressive as any for his era.
Murphy won back-to-back National League MVP Awards in 1982-83, a feat that only 14 have ever accomplished. Of the eight players who achieved consecutive MVP honors before Murphy, only Roger Maris (1960-61) is not enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dale Murphy hits a 2-run HR off of Fernando Valenzuela 6/9/1985#BravesOnTBS #MurphMonday pic.twitter.com/OyFpUxyXxS
— Braves On TBS (@BravesOnTBS) January 23, 2023
While he never received the 75% of votes required to reach Cooperstown, Murphy stayed on the Hall of Fame ballot for all 15 years. In his second year, he earned a check on 23.2% of ballots, highest amongst his nearly two decade reign. Unfortunately for him, new names continued to appear, many of whom were first-ballot inductees: Dave Winfield, Kirby Puckett, Ozzie Smith, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor, Dennis Eckersley, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and Rickey Henderson. By that point, Murphy became an afterthought when compared to the all-time elites who experienced both greatness and longevity.
Larry Walker’s tale was nearly the same as it took until his 10th and final ballot. Year-one was with Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and two players tied to performance-enhancing drugs, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan González. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa would join the ballot and make it challenging for voters limited to 10 names. In the end, Walker received the necessary votes (76.6%) from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to join New York Yankees Derek Jeter in the Class of 2020.
BK does a little Cooperstown Justice on Dale Murphy…what do you think? #MLBNow pic.twitter.com/IuDey17U4n
— MLB Now (@MLBNow) November 29, 2022
Had that not come to fruition, his fate would have been in the same place as Murphy, who awaits a veterans’ committee to decide his worthiness. The Oregon native did receive some support this past December with six of the 16-person panel selecting Murphy, more than Albert Belle, Clemens, Bonds and Palmeiro.
With double the support during the next voting cycle from players in the 1980’s coming in December 2025, Murphy will have another chance to reach Cooperstown, a decade ahead of the player many believe will the next Rockie in the Hall of Fame, Nolan Arenado.
The following is a comprehensive list of every outfielder and catcher from the Rockies organization who has been listed on a Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. In order to appear on a ballot, players are required to have been active in MLB for at least 10 seasons. With a maximum 40 players on the ballot at one time, not all who have fulfilled the requirement even reach the ballot. To even do so is a great honor.
Dale Murphy: 1999-2013 (106 votes in final year, 18.6%)
Dante Bichette: 2007 (3 votes, 0.6%)
Ellis Burks: 2010 (2 votes, 0.4%)
Steve Finley: 2013 (4 votes, 0.7%)
Dale Murphy was center fielder from BYU that was a seven-time All-Star and winner of five Gold Glove Awards to go along with four Silver Slugger Awards. He’s one of just five original Rockies from 1993 to ever find their way onto a ballot, joined by Bruce Hurst, Andrés Galarraga, Eric Young Jr. and Dante Bichette.
Murphy continues to receive opportunities to reach the hallowed Hall courtesy of the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee. In December, Murphy was one of just eight players named on a ballot for those who appeared after 1980. Needing 12 of 16 votes from committee members, Murphy received six, fourth-most behind eventual inductee Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly and Curt Schilling.
Jay Jaffe’s JAWS considers Murphy to be the 27th-best center fielder of all-time, just behind Hall of Famers Kirby Puckett and Max Carey, as well as nine-time All-Star Fred Lynn. His next opportunity will be in December 2025.
Much like fellow Blake Street Bombers Galarraga and Vinny Castilla, Dante Bichette reached his potential in Denver. The four-time All-Star won a Silver Slugger and finished second in NL MVP voting as he led Colorado to their first postseason in 1995.
First game at Coors Field.
Dante Bichette. 14th inning. Walk-off homer. Happy 27th Anniversary.pic.twitter.com/yv4AWUZhUI
— DNVR Rockies (@DNVR_Rockies) April 26, 2022
Bichette’s Cooperstown candidacy does not fare well when reflecting on his wins-above-replacement, which is severely reduced by negative valuations for his defense. Because of this, JAWS ranks him as the 264th best right fielder, or three spots below PH/OF John Vander Wal. Had the National League not waited 21 years to adopt the designated hitter, Bichette’s contributions may be viewed quite differently.
Ellis Burks played in parts of five seasons with the Rockies and celebrated his best year with the franchise at age 31, earning an All-Star nod and a third-place finish in MVP voting in 1996. Burks managed to slug 352 home runs during his 18-year career spent mostly with Boston, Colorado, Cleveland and San Francisco. Had injuries not plagued him throughout his career, he could have joined the 500 homer, 300 stolen base club, to which only Barry Bonds and Willie Mays is a member.
Ellis Burks of the Blake Street Bombers did something with the 1996 #Rockies that only Hank Aaron had ever accomplished. pic.twitter.com/cElklvLKso
— DNVR Rockies (@DNVR_Rockies) December 31, 2022
A center fielder for much of his career, Burks is ranked as 35th-best at the position according to JAWS, one spot ahead of Torii Hunter and two spots behind recently-retired Curtis Granderson. In 2012, Burks was inducted into a different type of Hall: the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
Steve Finley wasn’t a member of the Colorado Rockies for very long (43 games, 102 plate appearances), but his support by voters was more than Bombers’ Bichette and Burks. Lasting until 42 years old after 19 seasons, Finley’s contributions during the first three months of 2007 ultimately earned him his second NL Championship ring.
The two-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove Award winner is best remembered during his tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks and their World Series win in 2001. Finley ended his career with 304 homers and 320 stolen bases, becoming the sixth member of the illustrious 300-300 club.
Other Notables: Ron Gant, 2009; Greg Vaughn, 2009; Jeromy Burnitz, 2012; Juan Pierre, 2019; Michael Cuddyer, 2021
Future Consideration: Matt Holliday (2024), Carlos González (2025), Matt Kemp (2026), Dexter Fowler (2027)
Matt Holliday called it a career after 15 seasons in MLB, spending his final year back where it all began: Coors Field. Holliday is recognized more as a Cardinal and that’s fair when looking at all the factors: two more seasons spent with St. Louis; four-times as many postseason appearances with the club; more home runs, runs batted in and bWAR in The Gateway City. But Holliday will long be remembered for diving head-first into home plate for the winning run in Game 163 for the Rockies against the Padres in 2007.
How did Matt Holliday get robbed of the NL MVP on this date in 2007?
He won the batting title in the NL (.340) and was named September’s Player of the Month, leading the #Rockies to Rocktober.
Still baffling. pic.twitter.com/HeB2tTa0EF
— DNVR Rockies (@DNVR_Rockies) November 20, 2022
Ranked 36th by JAWS among left fielders, he’s out of reach for what might be considered the lowest rung of Hall of Famers at the position. Lou Brock, another Cards’ outfielder, was enshrined in 1985 on his first ballot and ranks one spot behind Holliday in this metric. The postseason pedigree is worth discussing, particularly his NLCS MVP in 2007 against Arizona. Holliday also won a World Series with St. Louis in 2011.
With three All-Star appearances to go along with three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers, Carlos González was one of the most gifted and exciting players in the game for a decade. Injuries sapped CarGo’s numbers in all categories. But when looking at his statistics from 2009-18, his 162-game average was 30 home runs and 97 RBI. Due to his inability to compile during his 12-year career, JAWS placed González as the 93rd greatest left fielder of all-time.
On this day in 2008, Carlos González walked into our lives thanks to a trade with the A’s.
Never forget his walk-off homer for the #Rockies to complete the cycle in 2010. pic.twitter.com/IODUvhCAo3
— DNVR Rockies (@DNVR_Rockies) November 13, 2022
With a strong class of players like Ichiro Suzuki, CC Sabathia, Dustin Pedroia, Brian McCann, Félix Hernández, Ian Kinsler, Hanley Ramírez and Curtis Granderson all being added to the ballot in 2025, it will be a great success if CarGo can find his name listed on the ballot in just two years.
Dexter Fowler may have made his lone All-Star appearance 2016 with the Chicago Cubs, not to mention helped the franchise to their first World Series in 108 years and earned a moment on Saturday Night Live for it, but Dex established himself and spent the longest stretch of his career in Colorado.
Dexter Fowler set the franchise record with 15 triples in 2011.
He also had this multi-homer outburst in San Diego to sink the Padres in 2013. pic.twitter.com/RJ0KcEDlMi
— DNVR Rockies (@DNVR_Rockies) January 31, 2023
His best season may have only produced 13 home runs while with the Rockies, but it was his defense in center field that usually impressed most. His diving grab in the bottom of the seventh in Atlanta to preserve the no-hitter for Ubaldo Jiménez is etched into the minds of Rockies fans everywhere.
Sandy Alomar Jr.: 2013 (16 votes, 2.8%)
Sandy Alomar Jr. was a second generation ballplayer who won the National League Rookie of the Year with the San Diego Padres in 1990. He was a mainstay with Cleveland during the 90’s and contributed to five straight playoff appearances with the organization en route to six All-Star Game selections, including the game’s MVP in his home ballpark.
Colorado acquired the 36-year-old backstop from the White Sox ahead of the 2002 trade deadline for a prospect that topped out at Triple-A. While he played just 38 games with the Rockies, he remains their only catcher to make a Hall of Fame ballot. Coincidentally, his father, Sandy Alomar Sr., became a third base coach in 2003 and 2004 and the first coach with the organization to be born outside of the United States.
Happy birthday to the hero of the ’97 ASG and Tribe great, Sandy Alomar, Jr.
Pay homage. pic.twitter.com/nuM5zdrMZC
— HOMAGE (@HOMAGE) June 19, 2019
Though Alomar Jr. had a great career, he is far from being considered one of the greatest at his position. Regardless, he continues to make an impact to the Guardians as he’s been a coach with the club since 2010. A place in Cooperstown may not be in his future, but the retirement of his no.15 is not out of the question some day in Cleveland.
Other Notables: Charles Johnson, 2011
Future Consideration: Chris Iannetta, 2025; Jonathan Lucroy, 2027
Iannetta called it quits in 2020 as a member of the Yankees despite playing his final big league game with the Rockies in 2019. With 141 home runs and 502 RBI during his 14-year career, he’s considered the 111th-best catcher of all-time by JAWS. Along with Carlos González, Iannetta is the only player to contribute to three different Rockies postseason clubs.
The hero of the day 🦸♂️
Mr. @Chris_Iannetta pic.twitter.com/FEvK3boQmw
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) April 3, 2019
Note: Brad Ausmus, who played with Colorado’s Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs in 1993 before being dealt to the San Diego Padres, was able to make the 2016 ballot despite his 106th-best ranking in JAWS. The inclusion of Ausmus gives hope that Iannetta can become only the third Rockies catcher to reach the ballot in November 2024.
Jonathan Lucroy is another ballot hopeful with a strong catching resumé. A veteran of 12 seasons in the Major, Lucroy made two All-Star Games and finished fourth in NL MVP voting in 2014 because of his contributions to the Milwaukee Brewers at the plate and behind it. His acquisition at the 2017 trade deadline helped fortify the catcher spot for Colorado in the club’s first playoff appearance in eight years.