While playing in the minor leagues in Greenwood, South Carolina, Dale Murphy first became introduced to the gospel.
In an interview with Minor League Baseball's official site, Murphy shared:
"A teammate of mine, Barry Bonnell, shared with me his feelings of what the gospel meant to him and his family. As I learned more, met with the missionaries, and read and pondered the message of the Book of Mormon, my testimony and feelings in regards to the teachings of the church grew stronger and stronger.
"I decided that it was something that I wanted to be a part of, so I asked Barry to baptize me in August of 1975. My faith and the teachings of the church have been a blessing in so many ways to me and my family. The Savior teaches us to respect others, that family comes first, and that the most important things in our lives don't happen on the ball field or in the work that we do. Our most important work happens within our families. Our relationships with our spouses and children are eternal. It helped me throughout my career to keep that perspective and not get to wrapped up in the adulation and popularity of being a professional baseball player."
After joining the Church, Murphy remained true to his beliefs regardless of what team he played for or what opportunities came up. As a 1983 cover story with Sports Illustrated noted, “Here’s a guy who doesn’t drink, smoke, chew or cuss. Here’s a guy who has time for everyone, a guy who’s slow to anger and eager to please, a guy whose agent’s name is Church. His favorite movie is Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. He’s a wonderful ball player.”
In fact, just a year after his baptism, Dale Murphy wanted to serve a mission. "But several local Church leaders felt he could do a greater missionary work in baseball and encouraged him to remain," a 1985 Ensign article states. “'If I’m called, I’ll go,' said Dale. 'If I’m not called, I’ll stay and hopefully get a chance for a formal mission later.'”
That call wouldn't come for another 12 years when Dale Murphy and his wife Nancy were called to preside over the Massachusetts Boston Mission.
In between his call and his conversion, Dale Murphy started a family, played 18 years of professional baseball, and won two National League Most Valuable Player Awards, four Silver Slugger Awards, and five Gold Glove Awards.
He also wrote a column for youth in the Atlantic Journal-Constitution, something that allowed him to share some of his cherished beliefs.
"I’d like to help [kids] understand that our bodies are sacred, that we have more freedom to think and walk and talk if we keep ourselves clean—in mind and body," Murphy told the Ensign. "We must have a higher reason for avoiding those things than just knowing they are not good for us. The Church gives us that reason—the sacredness of the body, and our eternal nature. I’d like to help change attitudes in kids, to help them respect themselves more.”
About his experience as a mission president, Murphy told milb.com, "My appreciation for the missionaries throughout the world grew tremendously. They work so hard and have such great faith, that we will never forget their examples to us. It is a challenging thing to do...to put your life at home on hold, and go somewhere in the world and serve the Lord and teach the message of the restoration of the gospel. But it is a growing time, and something that will change your life forever. Whatever position you serve in the church the Lord just asks you to do your best, serve others, and try and move the work along. That's what I've always tried to do in any calling that I have had."
Lead image of Dale Murphy from CBS Sports.