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Not that Murphy is running for canonization. He has his peccadilloes, mainly involving his six squares a day. Murphy invented the power lunch. And dinner. And snack. One night on the road last season, the Braves lost another game as part of a dreadful losing streak. Torre, desperate for ideas, told the players to forget about curfew and go tie one on. Most of the Braves headed for their favorite dispensaries of fine spirits. Murphy headed for his favorite all-night ice cream shop and drowned his sorrows in banana splits. A maraschino cherry, bartender. And leave the jar.
Sartorially speaking, Murphy is baseball's answer to Tommy Newsom, despite being named to Atlanta's 10 Best Dressed List, the source of no end of compatriot ridicule. "Ten best?" Benedict hooted. "Murphy's lucky to get a blue sock on with a gray one. And his hair—he looks as though he combs it with a firecracker."
Undaunted, Murphy beats on against the current. "I'm getting there," he says. "Check this out." Gray slacks, blue coat, blue shirt. Snappy, Murph. "Well, I'm trying. But some of the clothes today, gosh. Have you seen what the kids are wearing in California?"
In the Braves clubhouse, pitcher Terry Forster, the paunchy and sometimes raunchy pundit, is sharing some intimate moments with a Budweiser. He nods his head across the room toward Murphy, and swallows. "Just look at him over there," he says. "Doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't take greenies, nicest guy you'd ever want to meet, hits the hell out of the ball, hustles like crazy, plays a great centerfield and isn't trying to get anything from anybody."
"Doesn't he just make you sick?"
Just look at him over there and you would believe that nothing in this world could be more splendid than waking up every morning as Dale Bryan Murphy, immune to sorrow, Chip Hilton for the '80s, the hero we've all been waiting for. Just looking at him over there you would have no idea what he's been through. But then, who would think to ask?
My heroes now are...people who are working hard and trying to make a good living for their families. My heroes are the people who put their families first.