Simply Baseball Notebook: Collector's Corner

Collecting Dale Murphy

"COLLECTOR'S CORNER": October 2003

Collecting Dale Murphy


Dale Murphy has always been more than just a great baseball player.  His fans regard him as a shining example of everything a professional athlete should be: generous, humble, affable, and family-oriented.

It's no wonder that -- more than a decade after his retirement -- the former Braves slugger is still revered by thousands.  How many players do you know that still have an active fan club 10 years after their final at bat?  Or have followers that have formed a society to lobby for their Hall of Fame induction?  Or have devotees who have built tribute Web sites and remain zealously committed to collecting their memorabilia?

One such supporter is Don Frakes, a Bowling Green, Kentucky resident who, over the past 20 years, has amassed close to 1,000 pieces of Murphy memorabilia. Showcased on his Web site (http://murphycollector.homestead.com/HOME.html), his collection boasts cards, photos, pins, balls, and autographed items.

"I grew up in Evansville, Indiana where there was a Braves farm team in the '50s and my son became a Braves fan while he grew up in the '70s. He was a Dale Murphy fan and we decided to start a collection," he explains.

A busy career has made it difficult for his son to continue collecting, but, being a sports writer, Jason Frakes has had the opportunity to share his passion for the seven-time all-star in his work.  One of the links on Frakes' site (http://www.newsherald.com/archive/sports00/sa011300.htm) is to an article that his son wrote on why Murphy belongs in Cooperstown.

And while it's true that his son rarely contributes to the collection anymore, Frakes says that he's still interested in his latest acquisitions.

"He always looks in my office (where the collection is stored) when he visits and wants to know what's new," he says.

It would be hard for anyone to keep up with what Frakes has added, however, because he's constantly acquiring new items through eBay and other collectors. He says that competition for the Atlanta sports icon's memorabilia can sometimes be fierce.

"I personally know of about 10 very serious collectors," he says. "But I've learned from watching eBay that there are consistently a lot of different bidders on his merchandise."

Frakes counts a 1977 Richmond Braves postcard and an autographed home plate as two of his favorite items.

"The homeplate hangs on the wall in my office above one of my desks.  It's framed with a photo of Murphy signing it below it.  It's inscribed with ''82, '83 MVP,'" he says.  "I obtained it on eBay from a dealer who had a private signing."

Frakes' goal is to collect one of every Murphy item ever made.  He says that the abundance of new cards being issued has made it difficult for him to keep up.

"I'm a little disappointed in all of the new cards," he says.  "They're nice cards, but much too expensive and hyped."

But, despite his dedication, there are some items that have eluded him; his want list can be found online.

The longtime hobbyist is a member of both the Murphy fan club and the induction society.  When asked if the Braves legend belongs in the Hall of Fame, his reply is short and to the point.

"Yes, without a doubt," he says.  "If he had hit two more home runs, it seems it would have been automatic."

-Kevin Glew

Kevin Glew is a freelance writer based in London, Ontario - he can be reached @  kevin.glew@sympatico.ca


The Dale Murphy Fan Club

The Dale Murphy Induction Society

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