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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2006 > One of Major League Baseball’s Former Greats Praises Little League’s Move to a Pitch Count

One of Major League Baseball’s Former Greats Praises Little League’s Move to a Pitch Count

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Dec. 5, 2006) – Dale Murphy, one of the most-respected Major League Baseball sluggers of the last half of the 20th century, started his baseball career as a Little League pitcher. When learning of Little League’s decision to replace its innings-pitched rule with a pitch count to determine a pitcher’s eligibility, he declared, “That’s awesome!”

Mr. Murphy grew up in Portland, Ore., and played in the Tualatin Little League. The first time he played in the field in Little League was as a pitcher, and the first batter he faced was his best friend Jeff Dunn, who he accidentally hit with the first pitch.

During a recent visit to Little League International, Mr. Murphy had an opportunity to review the pitch count rules that will be in place for the 2007 regular season and International Tournament play in all baseball division of Little League. His initial impression was that only coaches who are too competitive would have a problem with these rules.

“I think Little League going to a pitch count is awesome,” Mr. Murphy, a two time-National League Most Valuable Player and Little League Museum Hall of Excellence enshrinee, said. “I think since players in pro baseball are on pitch counts, that tells you something. Teams want their pitchers to be healthy and have something left. I can’t imagine a Little League coach having an argument against that.”

Limiting the number of pitches a player can throw in a game makes each pitch more important, which in turn cuts down on the number of mistakes a pitcher can make to a hitter.

“If a pitcher knows where to put the ball, they’re going to be harder to hit - hitters hit mistakes” Mr. Murphy said. “One of the best pitches to learn is a change-up. If a player can learn to change speeds it doesn’t put the pressure on the arm, and is one of the most effective pitches there is.”

Living in Alpine, Utah, Mr. Murphy and his wife, Nancy, have eight children (seven boys). He knows what pressures playing baseball can put on a young player and he has worked with children of all ages, helping them to simply enjoy the game.

“I pitched starting at eight years old and pitched until I was 12,” Mr. Murphy, the youngest player to ever win consecutive league MVP awards, said. “Pitchers are not the only players who need to have healthy arms, but you also don’t develop pitchers by abusing their arms.

“Instruction is better and a lot safer now,” he said. “Still, there are only a few pure power pitchers in Little League, so most players have to learn how to throw a strike on the inside and outside parts of the plate.”

Never reaching the Little League Baseball World Series as a player, Mr. Murphy did visit the World Series in 1986. He was on the field at Howard J. Lamade Stadium with his parents, Charles and Betty Murphy, who received the annual George and Barbara Bush Little League Parents of the Year Award. In 1995, Mr. Murphy returned to Williamsport, for enshrinement in Little League’s Hall of Excellence.

Playing in 2,180 games for the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies in 18 Major League seasons, Mr. Murphy hit .265 for his career with 398 home runs and 1,266 runs batted in. He was a seven-time all-star, won five straight Gold Gloves, and posted a 30-30 season (36 home runs, 30 stolen bases) in 1983, his second consecutive MVP season.

He credits his parents with allowing him to have fun playing baseball, admitting, “I had the same frustrations that any Little Leaguer has, but I always had a good time.”

Looking at the pitch count as a game-changing rule, Mr. Murphy advised parents and coaches not to get too aggressive, and support their children when they’re struggling.

“Baseball is a hard game and very frustrating at times,” he said. “There are so many variables and situations in baseball where you’re not going to be successful. Parents have to relax and do nothing but encourage their kids.”

Information on the Little League Baseball pitch count can be found here: http://www.littleleague.org/media/Pitch_Count_Resource_Page.asp

Dale Murphy, a two-time National League Most Valuable Player and seven-time all-star, won five straight Gold Gloves, and posted a 30-30 season (36 home runs, 30 stolen bases) during his 18-year Major League Baseball career. This photo from 1995 shows Mr. Murphy, a graduate of Tualatin Little League in Portland, Ore., talking baseball with children during a visit to Little League International for his induction into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum’s Hall of Excellence. Recently, Mr. Murphy reviewed Little League’s pitch count rule. In his opinion it’s a game-changing rule, that only coaches who are too competitive would have a problem with.