Murray’s steady play nets him record at first base

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

On the day the Cleveland Indians opened their new ballpark, their first baseman broke one of the oldest records in baseball.

On April 4, 1994, Eddie Murray appeared in his 2,369th game at first base, breaking what was then thought to be Jake Beckley’s record of 2,368 games at first.

Research has upped Beckley’s total to 2,383 games, but Murray remains on top of that list with 2,413 – his final total when he retired following the 1997 season.

The day Murray broke the record, the Indians played their first game at what was then known as Jacobs Field.

President Bill Clinton threw out the first pitch on a sunny-but-chilly Monday afternoon, and the Indians rallied to beat the Seattle Mariners 4-3 in 11 innings.

Murray scored the game-winning run in Wayne Kirby’s single in the bottom of the 11th.

“I like the mix we have here,” said Murray following the game, which marked the rebirth of an Indians franchise that had struggled for almost three decades. “I think it’s going to help us win. I think it’s really going to help us do something here.”

Murray, who was 38 years old at the start of the 1994 season, transitioned to designated hitter as the year went on. He finished with 17 home runs and 76 RBI in 108 games during that strike-shortened season, then hit .323 with 21 home runs and 82 RBI in 1995 to help Cleveland win its first American League pennant in 41 years.

The Indians celebrated Murray’s new record in style, presenting him with the first base bag at the end of the first inning. After the game, Murray said he was looking forward to learning more about Beckley, who played for five teams over 20 seasons from 1888-1907 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971.

“It’s a good feeling,” Murray said of the record, “just to be able to stay around this long.”

Murray’s career stretched from 1977-91, and in 21 seasons with the Orioles, Dodgers, Mets, Indians and Angels he batted .287 with 504 home runs, 3,255 hits and 1,917 RBI. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003.

“Eddie Murray means so much to me,” said Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton when Murray was traded from the Indians to the Orioles on July 21, 1996. “And (he) meant so much to this team.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series