Eddie Murray hit 491 career home runs prior to the July 21, 1996, deal that brought him back to Baltimore in exchange for pitcher Kent Mercker, who went to the Indians. He would play just 31 games at Camden Yards. Nevertheless, Murray left his mark on the new stadium with a series of memorable hits including his lone Eutaw Street home run on Aug. 14, 1996.
Murray homered twice that afternoon – home runs number 496 and 497 of his career – in an 8-5 Orioles victory against the Brewers. His third-inning bronze bomb off Jeff D’Amico traveled 384-feet, landing near Boog’s Barbecue on Eutaw Street. Murray later topped the effort with a 405-foot drive to center field off Ricky Bones in the bottom of the eighth inning that helped break a 5-5 tie.
Roberto Alomar followed Murray’s example with two home runs of his own as part of a win that moved the Orioles to within 3 1/2 games of the Chicago White Sox for the American League Wild Card. The O’s clinched the Wild Card on Sept. 29, one day after Alomar made regrettable headlines by spitting on umpire John Hirschbeck.
The victory on Aug. 14th was the Orioles’ 11th in their previous 15 games, due in no small part to Murray’s efforts. The Hall of Fame slugger batted .303 with six home runs and 15 RBI in the 21 games following his return to Baltimore.
“I’m swinging the bat all right right now, and I’m just going up there with the thought of hitting it hard,” said Murray after the game.
And hit it hard he did.
Murray homered in his first game at Camden Yards after the trade that brought him home, a 9-5 loss to the Twins on July 22, 1996.
He hit his 500th career home run on Sept. 6. At the time it made Murray one of only three players in baseball history – Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were the others – with 500 homers and 3,000 hits. Rafael Palmeiro later joined the club with his 3,000 hit on July 15, 2005.
The O’s brass didn’t need a long memory to understand that Murray was capable of hitting No. 500 and more at Camden Yards. Two seasons earlier Murray, playing for the Indians, stroked four home runs in six games at the ballpark. He added one home run in five games at Camden Yards during the 1995 season.
Murray tallied six home runs in 31 regular season home contests following the 1996 trade.
Overall, the switch-hitter stroked 11 home runs in 159 career at-bats at Camden Yards or one per every 14.45 at-bats. By comparison, he hit 160 home runs in 3,350 at-bats at Memorial Stadium or one per every 20.93 at-bats. His career ratio was one per every 22.49 at-bats.
For one summer, in a new stadium, at the dawning of a different baseball era, Eddie Murray recaptured the magic that earlier in his career had made him an integral part of Orioles Magic.