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Things suddenly came easier. "It seemed like he was lightened," says Camp, "and he was hitting absolutely everything." Murphy was the Player of the Month for September, and his hitting carried over into '85.
Murphy's law is now What Will Go Wrong Isn't Necessarily Your Fault. "Nothing is going to distract me anymore," he told Chris Mortensen of The Atlanta Journal this spring. "Whether I'm hitting .100 or .300, I have resolved to at least enjoy every game. My main goal the rest of my career is to just go out and play and enjoy every opportunity."
During the winter Murphy packed up his family and took them from the glass house in suburbia to a new hideaway 40 minutes from town—a 10-acre Xanadu with a mailbox that tells no secrets and an ominous wrought-iron gate that tells no lies. Behind it winds a long, narrow drive, which snakes past a pond guarded by two fierce swans, past thick pines and oaks standing at attention, arriving at a glorious brick mansion.
Back behind the house, Murphy has worked the rich Georgia red clay into a garden of peaches, nectarines, raspberries, blueberries, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, watermelon, cantaloupes, onions and sweet yellow peppers. Standing over his work is a scarecrow, fashioned by Murphy out of jeans, an old shirt and a retired hat. Murphy loves his scarecrow, which, as a scarecrow, is not very good. But as a metaphor for what his family has been through, it keeps away more than crows.
The new Murphy is a sight to behold. "We just had the greatest off-season," says Nancy. "He's looser now," says Camp. "He's finally relaxed, finally come into his own."
Baseball-wise, that is a chilling thought. His four-week hitting streak to open the season had the National League bumping into itself looking for new adjectives.
"These days, anytime one of my pitchers keeps Murphy in the ball park, I pat 'em on the fanny," says Cincinnati manager Pete Rose. "I told him, 'Dale, you're the best player in the league. That's all there is to it.' "
Owner Ted Turner must shudder to think where the Braves would be this year without Murphy. Is there a place below last? As of Sunday, the Braves were 6-18 in games without a Murphy RBI. They were 17-24 overall.
Even opponents are tingling about the possibility that is Murphy in '85. When he singled in an early May game against Montreal, Expo first baseman Dan Driessen couldn't wait to chat him up.
"So, Murph, is it true?" Driessen asked.