1995 Game Recap: 3,000! Murray’s Milestone Highlights Tribe Win—Indians 4, Twins 1

Throughout the 2015 season, Did the Tribe Win Last Night will take a look back at the 1995 Cleveland Indians for the 20th anniversary of their fourth pennant winning season. Included will be historic game recaps, headlining stories and a ranking of the team’s most influential players that truly made 1995 The Greatest Summer Ever. Today looks back June 30, 1995.

The Indians improved baseball’s best record to 41-17 on Friday night with a 4-1 victory over the lowly Minnesota Twins, but the best team in the Major Leagues took a backseat to one of their own player’s personal milestones.

If he hadn’t already done so in his 19-year career, Tribe DH Eddie Murray stamped his ticket as a first ballot Hall of Famer with his single in the sixth inning—the 3,000th of his amazing career. The man they call “Steady Eddie” lined a fastball from Twins pitcher Mike Trombley between first and second and past a diving Chuck Knoblauch that helped start a game changing rally and made him the 20th player in Major League history to accomplish one of baseball’s rarest and best feats.

With Murray’s wife, Janice, and his 10-month old daughter, Jordan Alexandra, sitting behind home plate, Murray joined Nap Lajoie in 1914 and Tris Speaker in 1925 as the third Cleveland Indian hit the milestone. He also joined Pete Rose as baseball’s second switch hitter to join the exclusive club. Sitting at exactly 3,000, Murray is now tied with Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Cap Anson on the all-time hit list.

“I’ve asked him what he thinks has been the biggest key to his success and he said longevity,” third baseman Jim Thome said of Murray, “The guys that played and have iconic numbers, guys like Hank Aaron, they have had longevity and health. You have to be blessed enough to be healthy. You don’t get better as you get older, but you make the best of what you’ve got.”

Time was called at 9:42pm EDT, when Murray’s Cleveland teammates swarmed out of the first base dugout to congratulate their quiet leader by pounding him on top of his batting helmet. The last player to reach 3,000 hits before Murray, pinch hitter Dave Winfield, was the first to greet his teammate. Reliever Julian Tavarez was the most visibly excited, giving Murray a giant embrace and lifting him off of the ground. Murray tipped his beaten helmet and baseball cap that he wears underneath to the history-witnessing 27,416 fans at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome as a video celebrating his outstanding career played on the scoreboard. Murray took a curtain call by waving and pointing to the stands as he turned a slow circle while receiving a standing ovation.

Back in Cleveland, the red banner that has recently hung over the homerun porch at Jacobs Field was present on Public Square for the Cleveland Orchestra’s “A Star-Spangled Night” outdoor concert. The banner had counted down Murray’s journey toward 3,000 since the DH was 33—his jersey number—hits from the historic mark. The 65,000 rain-soaked Clevelanders attending the concert went wild as Murray’s 3,000th came just as the orchestra finished John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” to finish the show.

Murray’s moment had to wait until the sixth with the score tied 1-1, but he had nearly kick started a rally and notched number 3,000 two innings earlier. Leading off the top of the fourth, Murray smoked a line drive into centerfield that looked like it was going to fall for a single. Twins centerfielder Rich Becker, however, had other plans as he snagged it on the run for a loud out.

The Tribe had taken a 1-0 lead in the third curtesy of an RBI double from Carlos Baerga, but the Twins got the run back in the bottom half when Tribe starter Dennis Martinez allowed a run on a Knoblauch double play. Martinez (7-0, 2.53) was fittingly the starter and victor for Murray’s big night, as the two spent several seasons as teammates in Baltimore nearly a decade ago.

“The hitter that has impressed me the most (in my career) is Eddie Murray,” Martinez said. “He was one of my teammates that grew up with me in the Orioles organization. He is such a unique hitter…he is amazing. To me, he is the most impressive guy I’ve ever seen.”

Murray’s hit in the sixth had immediately followed a double from Albert Belle. Murray hit the ball so sharply, however, that the ball scooted quickly on the Metrodome turf and Belle was unable to score from second. Belle would have to wait two more batters to score the Indians second run, as he eventually came home on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Manny Ramirez.

The Tribe put the game away in the very next inning, as replacement centerfielder Wayne Kirby socked his first homerun of the season to make the score 3-1. Belle later added some more insurance by singling home Omar Vizquel, who followed Kirby’s blast with one of his three singles on the day. Jose Mesa also worked the bottom of the ninth for his 20th save in 20 chances.

Murray finished the evening with a historic 1-3 with a walk. He became the fourth player to reach 3,000 in the past four years, joining Robin Yount, George Brett and Winfield—who also hit his 3,000th at the Metrodome. The next closest player to the milestone is Marlins’ veteran Andre Dawson at 2,723, but Dawson is 40 and has been speaking lately of retirement. Currently sitting at 469 career homeruns, Murray also has a good chance to reach the 500 plateau. If he could accomplish this milestone as well, Murray would join just Hank Aaron and Willie Mays in this exclusive club.

The Tribe will look for a third straight win over the Twins on Saturday, as surging rookie Chad Ogea (4-0, 1.57) will get the ball for the Tribe. The Indians have won all four of Ogea’s starts this season. Another rookie, struggling right hander Brad Radke (3-7, 5.91), will get the ball for Minnesota and will look to end the Twins five game losing streak. The game at the Baggy-Dome is scheduled to start at 8:05 EST and can be viewed on WUAB-43 or heard on WKNR/AM-1220 on the Cleveland Indians Radio Network.

Photo: Jim Mone/AP Photo

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