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Murphy makes Turner Field visit

Murphy makes Turner Field visit

ATLANTA -- Dale Murphy, even at age 50, still carries every bit of the 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame that filled out his Atlanta Braves uniform from 1976-1991. So when he has a message to deliver, it's difficult not to take notice.

Murphy was at Turner Field on Tuesday to sign copies of his new book, "The Scouting Report: Youth Athletics," which stresses the importance of authority figures allowing kids to enjoy playing sports.

Fans had an opportunity to purchase Murphy's book, with proceeds going to the Atlanta Braves Foundation and Murphy's I Wont Cheat Foundation.

"[Youth sports] should be an experience that kids look back on and say, 'That was a good experience," Murphy said. "'Coach taught me some things; I didn't play every game, I didn't get a hit every game, but I'm glad I went through it.' Instead, kids quit, and a lot of kids quit just because of the coach. That's a sad thing for me."

Murphy, who won the National League MVP in 1982 and 1983 and hit 371 homers with the Braves in his 14-plus seasons in Atlanta, developed the book as a how-to guide for parents and coaches, and added a supplemental book for children about avoiding pitfalls such as performance-enhancing drugs.

For the kids' section of the book, Murphy interviewed and included comments from stars such as Dwyane Wade and Danica Patrick, who offered their positive experiences in youth athletics.

Murphy felt it necessary to write the book because he has experienced youth athletics through his own children and knows that sometimes parents and coaches can ruin what is supposed to be fun.

"My youngest is a freshman in high school, so we're still going through it," Murphy said. "I know what it's like -- I've coached, I've been there, I know what it's like being a parent. I know you just want the best for your kids and sometimes it's very frustrating."

The book signing mini-tour came in two stints at Turner Field on Tuesday, continues Wednesday at the Braves Clubhouse Store at the CNN Center in Atlanta and will hit several Barnes & Noble stores in the Atlanta area.

Before Tuesday's signing began, a long line of fans waited outside the Hank Aaron Room with vintage Braves items for Murphy to sign, including the powder blue jerseys Atlanta sported during the 1980s.

Murphy was looking forward to the interaction with fans because he rarely got to experience it as a player. He currently lives in Utah and he said he makes it back to Atlanta once or twice a season. Tuesday's visit was his first of 2007.

"While you're playing, you tend to shelter yourself from [the fans]," Murphy said. "You kind of have that barrier. But after you're done, people don't ask you for your autograph very much, so this is kind of fun."

Murphy was certainly a difference maker for the Braves and, to a lesser extent, with the Phillies in 2 1/2 seasons in Philadelphia.

From 1982-87, Murphy averaged more than 36 homers and nearly 105 RBIs, finishing in the top 10 in MVP voting four times. The Braves made the postseason for the only time in 1982 and started their 14-year string of postseason appearances in 1991, the year after Murphy was traded to the Phillies.

The year after Murphy left Philadelphia, 1993, the club made the World Series. He wrapped up his career that season with the Rockies, playing in 26 games.

"I'm very grateful that I got to play, but yeah, you want to get to the postseason," Murphy said. "I was only there once. It's hard to have sour grapes about the whole thing -- I did what I did. But it would have been fun to be part of the success the Braves had here."

Now, Murphy has a new goal -- getting his message across. Starting that quest at Turner Field was a good idea, since the Atlanta fans still adore him. His No. 3 jersey has been retired, and pictures of Murphy can be found throughout the stadium, including on the outfield wall.

His book covers steps for parents to ensure kids get the most out of sports, including what to do if children aren't receptive to becoming involved in athletics.

"Sometimes your kids don't like sports very much no matter what you do," Murphy said. "I thought all my kids would love baseball, but that's not the way it works out. I've seen a lot, I've heard a lot and I've been through it, so that's why I felt I was qualified to write the book."

Jeff Lutz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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