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Craaack! Another Murphy line drive is away. This one scurries across the dirt to the fence. Pow! Another. This one poses a clear and present danger to the leftfielder, who, being the family dog, quickly takes its leave before...Biff! A third Murphy smash, this one lefthanded, no less, and that should be all for the pitcher, Vin Scully.
"Goooooood," Dale Murphy hollers while giving chase to that third screamer, which may end up in Lake Murphy if he doesn't hustle. Switch-hitting Chad Murphy, a phenom at the age of 4, giggles over this newfound power to make his father scamper off madly across the lawn. Of course, there is a heavy price to pay for all this laughter—pictures, always more pictures. Murphy is constantly dragging that camera out now that times are worth keeping again.
Click. Chad, swinging at a changeup. Click. Travis, swinging at Chad. Click. Travis, swinging at the dog.
"Gosh," says Murphy, looking up from the viewfinder, "we are really happy here."
Click. Dale Murphy and the Murphettes, smiling again.
ASK DALE MURPHY
Dale Murphy sets your calendar back 35 years. He is the right star plunked headfirst into the wrong time warp. He still blushes at big league blue streaks. He catches the ball with two hands. He turns fellow players into unabashed fans. As Bob Dernier of the Cubs puts it, "The ground looks smaller under his feet."
The '80s are just half over and Murphy has already won the National League MVP award twice, and he's on his way to his most Murphyesque season yet: At week's end he had a .325 average, 11 home runs and 34 RBIs. The man is emerging as the planet's best player in a decade he can't quite figure out.