An Interview With Dale and Nancy Murphy
You’ve heard the highly revered name Dale Murphy. Now get to know the humble human behind the baseball bat. Dale is a retired multi-award-winning professional baseball player whose career spanned 18 fulfilling years. He has a beautiful family of eight children and 12 grandchildren and spends his time developing his passions, one of which now includes public speaking.
In this inspiring and heartfelt episode of The Launch Party, our hosts Luke Alley and Julia Olson talk to Dale and his wife Nancy about their life, family, career, struggles, and successes. The Murphys discuss how Nancy was able to raise a family of eight children while supporting her husband’s busy MLB career as well as the importance of family, the key to career success, the makings of a great leader, and the power of resilience in everyday life.
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The participants of this podcast are as follows:
Luke A. (00:05):
Welcome, everyone. This was a very fun episode to record because it was the first in-person interview that Julia and I did. We had the most gracious guests, Dale and Nancy Murphy, who have had a major impact on the lives of many, many people, both during their time in baseball and after.
Luke A. (00:27):
I think you might be able to say we hit it out of the park on this one. Hope y’all enjoy the episode.
Luke A. (00:34):
This is Luke Alley. We’ve got our co-host Julia Olson here, and we’ve got great guests on today that I would consider friends. We met the Murphys at Tangible School here in Utah, and we’ve had a chance to work with them. We’ve had a chance to have Dale and Nancy come to our Google event last November and speak, and we asked them to come on the podcast today, so welcome.
Dale M. (00:57):
Thank you. Thanks for having us. Yeah, it’s been fun. Thanks for all you’ve done for us at Avalaunch. Thank you.
I’m going to list some awards. Dale was an MLB MVP multiple times. He’s the youngest player in history to win back-to-back MVP awards. He’s a seven-time all-star five-time gold glove winner, four-time Silver Slugger winner, and Roberto Clemente Award winner. He’s in the Atlanta Braves hall of fame. His number-three Jersey was retired by the Atlanta Braves. He has the Bart Giamatti award, Lou Gehrig Memorial ward, and as a kid (this was awesome) he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated three times, which we subscribed to. We’ve got his wife here too. They’ve been married for 40 years. They have eight children and 12 grandchildren. She is a support to Dale as we’ve worked together. It’s been awesome to see both of you working as a team.
Dale M. (01:53):
Well, thank you. Nancy is the real allstar as you could tell when you look at the number of kids and the number of grandkids. I played from 1976 to 93 or so, and during that time, we got married in 1979, and Chad was born in 80. So right at the beginning of my career. Madison was born the year I retired. So when you think about going through that career, really what happened was I played some baseball, but Nancy raised eight kids through that time.
Nancy M. (02:31):
That was our first and our eighth. Chad is our oldest and Madison is our youngest. So that spanned Dale’s career
Dale M. (02:39):
I don’t know how she did it. I was there as much as I could be, but sometimes mentally, just because of the game and the pressures and me thinking about what’s going on, I’m not so sure I was always there, but Nancy was a great mom.
Nancy M. (03:00):
Dale became the fun parent because he was in and out because of his career. So he became the fun parent and I became the mean parent
Luke A. (03:12):
With baseball and being an MVP, I think a lot of people have a perception of what it’s like, but what’s something that people seem to misunderstand about being a baseball player and maybe more specifically, being an MVP?
Well, our culture really loves their sports. The whole world does, but the United States probably loves their football a little bit more than their baseball. Basketball’s a little bit more international. So it’s very popular. It’s exciting. It looks like it’s a lot of fun, but I think the one thing that would be misunderstood is that because you see people on TV and they’re in your home so to speak every night, you’re watching them and they’re in the public eye like that. You still have the challenges of family life.
Dale M. (04:16):
I think a lot of times when we look at people that are on TV or something like that, that things must just be pretty easy. You know, they’re making this much money and they’re having fun. They’re doing something that they wanted to do since they were a kid. Things just must be pretty smooth for them, but every professional athlete or entertainer has all the challenges of family life that everybody else does. Then you add that together and you have to go out and perform that night. Like a lot of people don’t realize what might’ve happened that day at the Murphy home. Maybe one of the kids went to the hospital and I can’t skip the game cause one of the kids is sick.
Dale M. (05:05):
And that happened quite a bit with having eight kids. That’s why, again, I look at Nancy and all that she did because there’s a lot of pressure of performing and doing well and balancing the whole thing. So we talk about work-life balance. It exists in the professional athlete’s world with his family just like everybody else. I think that’s the one thing is you see these guys on TV or women’s sports. There’s really no difference. They just have a really unique job, but a really unique thing that they get to do. And they’re really lucky, and they’re having fun and it looks great. But just like everybody else, all the challenges that could happen to any family happens to a professional. I like to say entertainers family ‘cause that’s what ballplayers are. There’s no shielding from that.
Dale M. (06:03):
You still have that, and then there is the pressure to perform because sometimes you’re really doing well, and sometimes you’re not. You’re in a slump and that’s just not a lot of fun. If you’ve got two hits every night, it’d be great. But there’s the pressures of the job. And then that work-life balance, I think, is a real challenge.
And it feels like your experience might be atypical of a lot of professional athletes because you had a big family?
Your teammates. Was your experience different because of that?
Yeah, I think so. And in a lot of ways, I think it was very helpful for my career because I did understand that whatever happened on the field, I tried to get this in my mind, was not the most important thing in the world.
Dale M. (06:56):
You get told that a lot and, and you certainly want to do well, but there are some challenges I think with wherever people work with what is most important. When you do have a family, especially when you have a lot of kids, I think it doesn’t really matter the number of kids, but yeah, family challenges are always there and it is unique in that world to have kids. I think the quarterback of the San Diego chargers, although he may be moving this year, Phillip Rivers, I heard has eight or nine, maybe 10. I am not sure how many kids he had, but when I heard that, I was like, wow, you know, it’s amazing. So it’s a little unusual and yeah, it is challenging in a lot of ways.
Julia O. (07:43):
So Nancy, I can only imagine raising eight kids. I don’t even think I can imagine a professional baseball player as your husband, but I can totally relate in the sense of, I have four kids and I’m balancing work life, but I’m just curious. What was an experience that you got from being married to a professional baseball player that someone who was able to provide more balance in your everyday life? And I’m sure that there’s probably challenges with him being gone maybe more often than in some other careers, but what’s some positive experience that you were able to gain from this different type of lifestyle?
That’s a really good question. And I think there are so many. I think for all of us, we all need to remember that the good and the bad that come into our life and the challenges and the easy times and the whole thing, it creates our path to where we are now.
Nancy M. (08:43):
And so I would not be who I am in so many ways had I not had that experience. One of the first things that come to my mind is, like Dale was saying, I think people, especially during Dale’s career, would look at us and think our life must be easy. It feels a little bit counterintuitive to say this, but it was hard. It was very hard. We have a special needs child. We have eight kids in 13 years, so we had a lot going on at home. Dale was gone from March to October, half of the time. So two weeks out of every month when he was in town, he went to work at three o’clock when our kids were coming home from school and he got home at one or two in the morning and had to sleep because that was his career, you know?
Nancy M. (09:44):
And so I would get up and get the kids to school. So he would be up after the kids went to school. So even when he was in town, it was challenging. But then he would have the off-season from October to February and then we’d all usually go to spring training. And so that off-season was really the time that we would try to regroup. The bottom line, the blessing of all of that, to me, is that I didn’t know I was as strong as I was. And when we first started having kids and I would think, how can I ever do this? We were really lucky because my parents moved to Atlanta. My dad was a doctor. He sold his practice and moved to Atlanta and opened a practice there.
Nancy M. (10:29):
They lived really close to us, so that was a huge blessing. When he was gone, I had my parents close, but those hard times, the hard times when that every mother, every woman, every person, every human being has, when you wake up in the morning and say, I don’t know if I can do this another day. Those things make you stronger and better. And I know that has contributed to the person I am now to be able to work through the hard stuff. That’s one thing that comes to mind when I look back. I think I’m so glad I had that experience at the time when we were in the middle of something hard. We never think we’re going to be grateful for that. If you look back and you think I grew so much during that time that I maybe couldn’t have grown in any other way.
Speaker 1 (11:22):
And I think Dale can say this too. I have a very unique bond. Dale does, too, and they’re always different with the two parents, but with my children, I think I have a really unique, strong bond with them because it was me and them. So me and Dale, of course, was there as much as he could be. He’s an amazing father and grandfather, and they all just love him to death. But because of those hard times together, I think it’s contributed to my relationship with my kids. It’s awesome.
Nancy M. (12:14):
And I could write a book on it. I won’t right now, but you know, our older kids especially felt some of the negative things of Dale’s career. They felt the pressure as an eight-year-old little leaguer pitching and people in the stands saying that’s Dale Murphy’s son, and they’d come off the field crying and we’d go home and I’d try to help them understand that they were unique themselves, that they weren’t just Dale Murphy’s son. And so, you know, there were things like that, that I think that we worked through together that have made us closer in the long run.
Luke A. (12:52):
Dale, maybe a follow-up question on that. Obviously family’s important to you, to both of you. Nancy, it was, it was nice hearing your perspective of that. Some of the lessons you’ve learned that you, you came together with your kids because of that. Were there lessons, Dale, in baseball that you learned that you feel like helped you be a better dad and a better husband?
Yeah, I think so. I think no matter what you do for your employment, there’s things you can take away from it. With sports, there’s always a lot of good metaphors in there. I think maybe one thing I think about is understanding, as a father and as an athlete, you tend to see your kids going into sports and being athletic and things like that.
Dale M. (13:50):
So having gone through that, I think it mostly made me more patient and understanding of their youth sports experiences because I learned how hard it is to be involved in something like that. And even though it was my job, people tend to always remember you hitting a home run or getting a base hit, and that’s usually not what happens. Statistically, usually, you strike out or you make an out somehow. So when my kids got involved in sports or any extracurricular activity, I tried to support them and not put too much pressure on them because I didn’t know how long they were going to be able to do this. I was lucky to have it as a career. They were going to be really fortunate and healthy and love it to have that happen.
Dale M. (14:49):
But I also recognized that there were a lot of things our kids could do and that there were a lot of other things that were really more important than exactly what you do for a living. Whatever you do, whatever your gifts are, go for it. I just tried to understand that from my experience playing baseball that the best thing you can have as a parent when they’re going through all that they’re going through, is patience and understanding. I think some parents get to a certain, I’m just talking about sports and athletics get to a certain point in their life, and then they have to quit sports, but they always think that their kid will be able to do it. I guess they exert a little pressure that, with my understanding, I think it helped me back off a little bit on the pressure to always be good. Out there when you’re competing, it’s not always going to happen.
Nancy M. (15:45):
Well, I think too, one thing that I’ve watched Dale as a father that he’s been really amazing at is letting our kids find their own passions and the things that they love. People will say to us, “Well, did all your kids play baseball?” We’re really confused by that because we’ve had experiences with our children. We actually have had people say, “Oh my gosh, your family should be a reality show because they have so many different interests. How did you do that?” And, yeah, I don’t think so, but people will say, how did you do that? We’ve got kids that are artists, we’ve got kids that are professors, we’ve got kids that have creative jobs. All our kids have all done what they wanted to do. Sometimes it’s hard as a parent because you think you see what they’re good at and you think, “But you are so gifted athletically, you should do this.”
Nancy M. (16:52):
I think a turning point for us in our marriage and as his parents was when our oldest son called us one day and said, “Dad, I’m not going to try out for the eighth-grade basketball team today. And Dale said, okay, alright, no problem. And he hung up and he goes, you know, he’s not going to try out for the basketball team. We finally just said, okay, since when does only athletics matter in our family? Since never. And so Dale went home that night. He and our son that particular son loved music, went and bought him a turntable, and they sat down and they did a bunch of recording stuff. Dale is really good at helping them feel like they are valued and loved no matter what they do. They do not certainly have to play baseball. None of them have to play baseball. We actually don’t want them to play baseball. I’m just kidding. I’m kidding. But one more quick story is that our youngest son, Dale was his coach after Dale retired and they were, he was like, 10, do you want to say it?
Nancy M. (18:05):
And they were going down to the ball game, and Dale said, “McCain, what’s your favorite position to play?” And McKay said, “Benchwarmer.” Dale laughed, and he said, “No, I’m serious. That’s what I like to do the most.” And Dale said, but McKay, you’re so good in the outfield. And this has become kind of a model for us from that point on what McKay said next. He said, “Dad, I might be good at it, but it doesn’t mean I like it.” And that has been kind of a guiding force for us as parents. That just because we think they’re good at it, or it’s our passion for them, it doesn’t mean they’re going to.
Dale M. (18:49):
They’re good at a lot of things. You can do a lot of things. That was a real eye-opening experience. Our first son, Chad, who, I think about a lot, he’s a good example of this — very gifted athletically, musically, and now he’s in academia. He’s a professor at Oregon State. He’s kind of multifaceted, which everybody is. So as a parent, I think that’s really something that’s important to remember.
Would you both be able to tell us which child is your favorite?
Oh yeah. Uh, but we’ll have to edit it out.
You know, all of them and everyone who’s a parent feels the same way. Every single child brings something different to your life. And some of them you cry more tears over than others. Some of them are maybe a little easier, but in the end, and now looking at it from our perspective, looking back, our kids are all grown and they all have filled our life with so much joy that there is no possible way to ever distinguish between them.
So I guess, you know, between all the highs and the lows of professional baseball player, professional baseball player’s, wife, raising a family, you guys doing this together, how did you guys feel when it came time to retire? I mean, you said you had your first, when you started the career and your last, when you ended. That was a huge part of your life. How did you guys both feel when it was time to let go? Was it kind of relief? Was it a disappointment? I’d love to hear that.
Dale M. (20:45):
It’s hard to describe. The career of a professional athlete varies in different sports. Interestingly enough, The NFL is if you’re lucky, I think the average is three years. I got to play for a relatively long period of time. I was very lucky, blessed with good health and things like that. But when it came time, I think the best way I can say it is, is with the kids and with Nancy and knowing what’s most important, you know, family’s most important. I retired when I was 37, so there’s a lot of emotions going through your head. First of all, for the first year, I’m watching highlights on TV and I’m thinking, why did I retire? I could’ve done that. You know, so you really start doubting yourself.
Julia O. (21:43):
And you’re young, I mean, 37 is young.
Dale M. (21:46):
Baseball age, I’m old, so I was lucky to play that long, but this conversation is really interesting in a lot of ways. Knowing the family’s most important, I’m just going to be on full time with the kids and onto the next chapter of my life, it was kind of a depressing time too because there was a player and he wrote a few books, Jim Bouton, and he was a pitcher and he’s got a famous quote. I’ll probably not get it right, but he played baseball for many years. And he said, “You played baseball all those years, and you always feel like you have a grip on the baseball, but then you retire and you find out that the baseball had a grip on you.” It’s not exactly right, but that’s the essence of it. Your eye, everything you’ve done up to age 37 was because you were a baseball player and now you’re not. You’re an ex-ballplayer. You’re not wearing a uniform anymore. You’re now down in the field. You’re not out on TV. I guess what I’m trying to say is I didn’t realize how much of my identity was actually tied up in it
Dale M. (22:56):
I kind of went through a little bit of an identity crisis. This was my identity, but again, in my mind, and in interviews, I’d always say, “Well, family is most important.” To say that it wasn’t a really big adjustment for me emotionally and mentally would be a lie. It was a very challenging thing, especially for the first five years. Now people say, “Well, do you miss it?” I go, “I miss it every day.” You know what, I’m 63 now, but you still wish it’s still a part of you. So, I guess in a nutshell, I’d say it was a bigger challenge than I ever thought. I think that’s the truth. I think Nance was probably relieved it was over. She’s probably like, “Oh, thank you.” But that kind of brings up another point is she’s excited. I think that we’re onto a new chapter of life and I’m going to be around a little bit more and I’m going through this adjustment. It’s like, should I be here? Is it over?
Nancy M. (24:09):
Yeah, well, first of all, I was going to say our oldest son, Chad, who is a professor at Oregon State, he’s in organizational management, that’s his field. For the past five years, he has been doing studies about professional athletes and the transition after they retire. It is really difficult because there’s very few things that Dale could ever find to do that would be as exciting, as rewarding, as fulfilling in many ways as playing ball. It was such a high. I can say this and Dale would not want to, but to be at the pinnacle of your career, to be one of the top players for a decade and then all of a sudden to have that change, it wasn’t that it was gone. It just changed.
When Dale called me and said, I’m going to retire, he had MRSA in his knee. He was trying to come back from a staff infection. He ended up with the Rockies for a few months and he called me and said, “Nance, I can’t even run.” We had a year where we really thought he was in danger of even losing his leg. He was on the disabled list for a year. It was a tough time. The year he retired, I was six months pregnant with our daughter who is our youngest and our eighth. My mom had just had a serious stroke. I was going through a lot of things, just myself, carrying this load that I’d been carrying all these years.
And truly when he called me and said, “I’m going to come home,” I can’t explain. I had a billion pounds taken off my shoulders at that moment. It felt so good. I was so happy. And then watching him kind of go through that adjustment, you have to reinvent yourself, and we’re still trying to figure out how to do it. I’ll say this really quickly that as a woman in our culture and our belief system, I wanted to support him in his career at that point in his life and do everything I could and wanted to raise our children. Those were choices I made, but as Dale Murphy’s wife, I was always kind of in the background.
Nancy M. (26:51):
Fans would say, “Could you hold my coat while I take a picture with him?” And Dale would go, “No, no, no, she’s not going to do that.” It was challenging and it wasn’t that he looked at me that way, other people looked at you that way. And so when he retired, I felt like I had an opportunity to develop myself a little bit more. There was a lot of good things, and we’re still going through those. It’s exciting and fun, but we were both constantly reinventing ourselves.
Dale M. (27:22):
As Nance mentioned, I had an injury that I was trying to come back from, and most guys don’t get to choose when they retire. Most are forced into it. Men and women involved in sports, you’re cut, you’re done, you’re released. The club makes that decision, and that’s a really tough time. I was going through some injury issues, so that softened the blow a little bit. I was really struggling, but still, it was a bigger adjustment for me personally than I thought it would be. I thought I was like all put-together and families, and I’m going to be home every day. And then I’m like, “Oh man, I got to get up at seven tomorrow morning.”
Speaker 3 (28:14):
Steak on the airplanes, nice restaurants on the road. It’s a weird thing. The statistics aren’t very good for retired athletes in a number of things — financially, family-wise, it’s just not a pretty picture. They go through a lot of challenges and at some point in this, you decided to start speaking and sharing your experience.
How did that transition happen?
I was retired and an ex ballplayer. So you get invited to do appearances, basically go sign autographs at the local gas station. So I think after about a year of being retired, Nancy’s ready to say, “You gotta get out of the house a little bit.” So things would come up and appearances and things like that. And then, in fact, I ran into someone the other day that was one of the first people that asked me to come to speak to his business. And I thought, “What am I going to speak about?” He just basically said, “We just want to hear your story. We’ll figure it out.” First, I think I’ve learned some things my career. There’s still a nervousness, butterflies, a little adrenaline when you stand up in front of a few hundred people and start speaking. It reminds me of performing in baseball. I think that’s just how it started really. Don’t you think, Nancy? Just started doing some things and kind of fell into it? I didn’t think about being a speaker immediately, but I really enjoyed it. It’s something I really enjoy.
Nancy M. (30:10):
Yeah. I think the appearances were just a natural offshoot of his career, and people would call and email and want him to come for appearances. And then people start saying, “Oh, well, could you speak?” And so we’ve kind of developed this speaking career that he does really enjoy. We’ve tried to take his experiences and make those relevant in business and in life and because they are relevant. For example, he’s learned amazing lessons about leadership — things that I have never even thought of before — by watching some of his managers, the best managers in the history of baseball.
Can we hear what those experiences were?
Well, for example, let me share this one, because I love this one. Those two managers are Bobby Cox and Joe Torry who he co-played under and who both were extremely influential in Dale’s career.
One thing that I love that Bobby Cox used to do is he would stand in the dugout and yell encouragement to the guy at the plate. Well, the guy at the plate couldn’t even hear him. There’s too much noise. You can’t hear what people are saying to you. Bobby knew that, but everyone in the dugout could hear what he was saying. Because he was so encouraging and behind this player, it impacted all the other players in the dugout. That lesson about leadership and about how you treat people and how you encourage them and the impact it has on your whole company as a whole is something so valuable. I had never thought of before until Dale started speaking about that. He has so many experiences. We have so many. My daughter teases me, “Mom, you have to get rid of those Manila folders because you can put all that on your computer now,” but we have so many folders full of just so many experiences that he’s had.
Luke A. (32:15):
What about Joe Torry? You mentioned Joe Torry, another influential manager. What was it about Joe?
Well, Joe and Bobby, but completely different personalities. One’s from New York. One’s from Northern Cal. Bobby’s from Northern California, chose a New York guy. A lot of people don’t realize or forget, it has been a long time. Bobby kind of saved my career with the challenges I had and got me into a position that I blossomed in — the outfield. I had my best years under Joe before he had all his success with the Yankees. He was manager of the Braves for about three years. The one thing about Joe that I first think of — I think of Bobby, loyalty, and you’re his guy — and Joe, I think about respect there.
Dale M. (33:10):
He treats all of the players on the team with the same amount of respect and communicates very well. And so when he needs to make a tough decision there, because not every guy gets to play, a lot of guys get cut. He’s got a trade guys. He’s got a bench guys. When those decisions are made from a position of both people respecting each other, it’s easier to take. He deals in truth. He protected his players from the New York and Atlanta media, but especially with the New York media, and you knew that Joe respected you, would protect you, would be honest with you. So when he made the tough decision, I respect the guy. I know he’s got a tough job, but he treats me the way I need to be treated.
Dale M. (34:04):
That relationship is really, to me, the ultimate motivating factor of leadership is there’s a mutual respect.
Can I ask one question? Did he have to do that to you at some time? Do you remember any occasions when he gave you hard feedback but did it in a —
Oh yeah. He’d sit you down, maybe say something funny. Every player puts a lot of pressure on himself, but you know, maybe sometimes, I wasn’t a very vocal player, so maybe I kept it inside a little bit too much. And he noticed this, and one day he pulled me aside before a game and he said, “Now, look, I just want you to know if you don’t do well today, we’ll probably lose the game.” He started laughing. He said, “Murphy, just relax out there. You’re putting too much pressure on yourself. That’s why a team works. Not everybody’s going to do great that day,” and he just started laughing. I was like, “Oh, great, thanks a lot.” I had a good sense of humor and was honest with his players, and he just felt that respect. Both of them were very patient in that there are highs and lows during the season. You can’t start going crazy and start yelling at your players when things are tough, you got to have patience. They are both very patient with their players. That was important. A really great Torry story.
Nancy M. (35:38):
One thing that I love is that Dale uses when he speaks about leadership is Dale started to steal a lot of bases. And for a big guy, it’s not easy to do that and to have a lot of stolen bases every year. So Dale, Joe started to tell him, “Hey, Murph, you’re fast enough. You should start stealing more.” Dale, you can correct me if I don’t get the story exactly right, but basically, you have to wait for the manager to give you the steal sign if you’re out there. So, you know, you can steal and it’s okay with him. Joe said to Dale, “Okay, Murph, you don’t have to wait for the steal sign for the rest of the season. If I trust you, you’re smart enough. You’re fast enough. You have really good instincts. So if you think you can still go ahead and try, give it a try. And at every time you don’t have to wait for me to tell you.” So that really impacted Dale and made him realize, “He trusts me. He sees who I am, what I can do. He appreciates my value and my strengths and what I can do. He’s let me know that he trusts me. Those things are influential, and whether you’re on a baseball field or you’re in a boardroom or a retreat with your team somewhere, whatever it might be, knowing that you’re trusted is so empowering.
Dale M. (37:16):
That story is exactly right. It’s like, “I trust you until you show me that I can’t trust you anymore,” but it put the responsibility on me and it let me be a little more creative. I was free to think about stealing bases, which wasn’t a big part of my game. That very next year I ended up stealing 30 bases and hitting 30 home runs, which is still relatively unique in the game of baseball where a power hitter hits a lot of home runs, but he also steals. But it’s just because exactly what Nancy said. He turned me, in my mind, into a base stealer. So every time I got out there, I was being creative on my own. That was a really good lesson for me. I think good managers let the players play, let them make decisions. They do have good instincts. You can’t micromanage, I guess, is the word. Every single decision out there, let your players play. Joe and Bobby were great, as they say, managers. Guys loved to play for them.
Julia O. (38:31):
Yeah. It sounds like he pretty much gave you the trust in yourself. Like, you trusted yourself, and he empowered that, which is so awesome to hear.
Dale M. (38:45):
A hundred percent. It’s also, “Wow. He thinks I can do that. Well, if he thinks, maybe I can.” Absolutely it worked. It will always work when you build people up. and good coaches figure that out. Good managers figure that out — let your players play and build them up, and you may have to correct once in a while, obviously. We all make mistakes.
So you got to work with some of the smartest people. You were managed under some of the best and had these experiences that you’re sharing with businesses. What hurdles did you run into? Was it an easy transition to say, “Hey, I’m a baseball player and now I’m a speaker,” or were there things you ran into as you started going into that phase of your life?
Dale M. (39:38):
So I learned really quickly that it’s a craft. And I think that’s a good way to look at whatever you do. There’s your work. There are things you need to hone and perfect. I’ve done some radio and TV games, and that’s a craft when you’re listening on TV or radio and you’re listening to someone broadcast a game sound so smooth and effortless. And then as an ex-player, I was invited to fill in occasionally. I’m the number one, they put a lot of work into it, and it takes a lot of work. So I’m better now at speaking and maybe relaxing a little bit. Being an athlete, you have to literally think on your feet when you’re up there in front of a crowd, and all those kinds of things.
Dale M. (40:31):
It’s a never-ending kind of learning experience just like my career was. And you’re always learning if you’re open, and you don’t feel like you’ve nailed something. There’s always room for improvement. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but I enjoy watching speakers speak and how they do it. I’ve heard some amazing people and it’s just remarkable. You gotta do your best with what you have, but there are so many good ones out there. I just Marvel at some, but I enjoy it. I like to try to be funny. Some of my jokes aren’t too funny and Nancy will let me know. She goes, “That wasn’t funny.”
Well, I want to talk about one of those events that you spoke at. At Avalaunch, we do a Google event, and we did one in November and we invited you to speak. Nancy, I first want to ask you this question, because I remember in the auditorium that we were at, you were up at the top while Dale was speaking and were watching him pretty intently. You weren’t on your phone, like, “Oh, this the thousandth time I’ve heard him speak in front of a business.” What was your experience like at Google hearing him speak and what goes through your mind even while you listened to him?
Nancy M. (41:49):
Well, first of all, being at Google was an amazing experience for us. We’ve had the chance to be in some incredible places, but, nothing is better than the name Google and Avalaunch together for us. Watching Dale speak — first of all, I’m really proud of him. He’s kind of a shy guy. When he started speaking a few years ago, I just was so impressed because he has so much in his brain and so many wonderful things to say that sometimes I’m thinking, “How? Where did that come from? That is so perceptive or so intuitive.” I’m really proud of him for being able to make this transition in his life because it isn’t an easy one to make, but he’s done so well.
Nancy M. (42:51):
I handle all of his scheduling and all of his bookings, and I work with clients individually and talk to them about what he can do for them. I truly can say this that in 25 years since he’s been making appearances and speaking, I have never — knock on wood — had anyone come back to me and be anything less than thrilled after. Dale is warm, he’s engaging. He loves to meet people afterward and talk to them and make everyone feel seen and valued. I’m really proud of him for that, but watching him speak is a lot like watching him play ball. You’re just hoping he gets the science. Doesn’t strikeout. I’ve always felt for him because I know he gets a little nervous sometimes
Dale M. (43:50):
I do. I mean, it’s not always a home run.
Nancy M. (43:54):
No, but he always says so many good things. It was just fun. The whole feeling and vibe of being there was a lot of fun.
Luke A. (44:06):
And I remember leading up to it, you were talking to some of our other speakers, Adam Reader, Professor of Rock. What was your experience like being there, mingling with some of our speakers?
Well, as you’ve mentioned, I love music and all that stuff. Then you have someone who is truly a professor and knows so much, I didn’t really know what to expect. When you hear Google (and I’m a ballplayer), I’m thinking of computers, the internet. It was just fun to see everybody’s different take on the lessons that they’ve learned and how it would apply there to all those attending. I thought Adam’s presentation was fascinating. I actually understood a lot. Sometimes to people our age, it’s kind of a mystery, the internet.
I just have to say you two are crushing it on social media. If you’ve not seen, and you’re listening to this, follow Dale on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook. They are very active
Nancy helps me, our daughter, our kids helped me.
We’re learning and we’re getting better at it and understanding more about it. It’s fun to share with people, so thank you. We’re trying to improve all the time.
Dale M. (45:58):
I remember when I first got on Twitter, people were having a lot of fun. “Murph’s on Twitter. What is he doing?” I go, “I don’t know. My kids told me to do it.”
Nancy M. (46:06):
Well, a few years ago we were actually sitting at breakfast in Hawaii. Actually, I remember with a bunch of our kids, they said, “Dad, you have got to get on Twitter.” And we’re thinking, “Why would anyone want to know where we are or what we’re doing on Twitter? Why would anyone want to be on Twitter?” So it was kind of the beginning of social media for us, but they set him up and we got going and it’s been really fun. It’s been a blast and a fun way to interact with people. It’s the same thing with our restaurant in Atlanta and social media. I look at those a lot, the same that we have this opportunity now to interact with fans and friends through the years who we couldn’t do it that way during Dale’s career, but now we can. We can actually interact. We have the time and the energy to interact with people and make new friends and share our life. And it’s been a while.
Dale M. (47:02):
It’s fun to reconnect. It’s amazing. I know there’s some ups and downs with social media, but generally, it’s really been fun to connect with longtime Braves fans and just people of all different—
Nancy M. (47:17):
Occasionally we’ll have someone reach out on Twitter. Who was it? Wilco.
Dale M. (47:23):
Yeah. I say something like, “I like the band Wilco and people that are 20 years younger than me go, “Wait a minute. Dale Murphy, how old are you?” Really interesting intersection.
Nancy M. (47:44):
What I was going to say is that then Wilco reaches out to Dale and says, “Hey, we’re going to be in Atlanta. You want to come to a concert?” And Dale flew back with a couple of our kids and they end up in there in their tour bus after the concert sitting there talking, and our kids were just like, “We’re sitting here with Wilco talking to them.” Things like that, having the opportunity to interact and connect with people that you normally wouldn’t be able to.
Well, you guys have such an inspiring story and I think it’s awesome that you guys have taken the initiative to share it with the world and to apply your principles and what you learned through your career. Even probably inspiring for other athletes who are looking to retire. I mean, kind of the life after — whether it’s baseball, football, I think you probably impact so many different people from fans, managers, just a broad amount of people. So it’s amazing that you guys are on this journey. I know personally, and I know Luke would agree that watching you speak in front of our audience back in November was super inspiring. I think about it even here at work. Sometimes I’m like, “Well, here we go. Swing hard in case you hit, not miss.”
My favorite thing about that is people will say, “Well, what if I swing hard and I miss?” Then I’ll want to say to them, “Well, what if you hit it and you didn’t swing hard?” It’s a different mindset. You just swing and then hopefully you’ll hit it far.
Luke A. (49:26):
Maybe that’s a good way to wrap up the discussion. You have a lot of stories and you have a lot to share. So leave our listeners with your thoughts on this question. There’s a lot going on in the world and people are just struggling. People are going through a lot of hard times and you’ve had some good experiences that you’ve been able to overcome challenges in your life. If there’s one thing that people need to hear right now, what would that be?
It’s one of my favorite topics to speak about. The most important quality you can have in life — baseball, working at Avalaunch, wherever you work, whatever you do with your family — is you got to figure out how to be resilient. Being resilient as a baseball player is the most, you know, obviously, you wouldn’t be there if you didn’t have some athletic talent, but it’s not always gonna work out.
Dale M. (50:23):
The most important quality that you have to develop is to figure out how to show up every day, be positive, be upbeat, and just that resilience because every not every day is good. And that’s why I’m thankful for my experience in baseball. Baseball is kind of an everyday sport. We play 162 games, maybe 180. If you make the playoffs and things, it’s almost an everyday thing. And that’s what life is. So I feel like I understand what it takes. And that’s one of my favorite topics is three decisions that create resilience in your life. You got to learn from the past, not live in it. You have to understand that every day is going to be maybe not exactly what you want it to be. That’s what I think about that. I think that’s the most important thing you can have in life is being resilient.
Nancy M. (51:28):
Well, when you talk about the world today and what message we would want to leave, I think the message that we all need to leave with each other right now is just to be kind. I think we live in a world where we don’t have enough of that right now. That would be my first thing I would want to leave is be kind. Another one is a quote that I think is really touching and inspiring to all of us and puts things in perspective. And I can’t remember who said it, but the quote is, “We’re just walking each other home.” And if we could see that we’re all in the same position in life, we’re just doing our best, we’re just trying to wake up every day and live a happy life, and when we look at people that way, people become people. Then we truly can reach out and feel that. We can all start being kind. It’s really the only thing that matters.
Luke A. (52:34):
Well, thank you both for that. Thank you for taking the time to be on the podcast.
Thanks for having me. Thank you so much.
Before we leave, just, I want to say how grateful we are to work with Avalaunch. Avalaunch is really good at what they do. The people at Avalaunch are honest and good and kind and fair. We have had the best experience working with Avalaunch, and I want to say that we feel like everyone here is our friend, and I can’t think of a greater compliment for a company than having your clients feel like you are their friends, and that’s how we feel. So thank you.
Luke A. (53:21):
Thank you for that. We appreciate it.
Luke A. (53:27):
Well, we’re here with Matt. It’s great to have you. We haven’t had an exciting episode with Dale and I wanted to ask you a couple of followup questions to that episode specifically about Dale. We had a great opportunity to work with him and his wife. They were both very involved. You were instrumental in initially working with them and helping them get onboarded to Avalaunch and preparing to speak. When you found out we were working with Dale, what thoughts went through your head?
Oh man. Well, the immediate thoughts just took me back to my childhood, those days on the little league field when I would always pick to be number three and all the baseball card collecting and the books of him that I had, the posters on the wall. It immediately took me back to all of those things, childhood heroes. When I had the opportunity to meet him, I said, “You know, Dale, there, there was two people on my wall. There was Michael Jordan on my wall and Dale Murphy.” And he kind of laughed because Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan, but Dale Murphy meant the world to me and still does. I’m a 40 plus-year-old man. I just immediately became a kid again and thinking back to those childhood memories, I remember being such a huge Braves fan and then a Dale Murphy fan, because growing up, one of those TVs that only has 12 stations and one of them was TBS. And so, of course, we get all the Braves games and I just loved watching the man. I loved the Atlanta Braves. I loved Dale Murphy.
Luke A. (55:11):
Well, if I remember right, Matt, you wrote a letter to Dale and you got a response, is that right?
This is one of those ones where it speaks to the character of the kind of man that Dale Murphy is. So when I was a little kid, I saved up all my money for a ton of stamps and envelopes and I collected baseball cards. And so of course I had the Beckett baseball card magazine, the one that prices them out and stuff. There was a section on there where you can mail your favorite ballplayer and get an autograph and it gets you all excited. This was back in the day, snail mail, actually having to write a letter, put a stamp on it, and send it out. I must have put like hundreds of these out. I was a little kid and so saving up that amount of money for the stamps, this will date me, but I think they were like 18 or 19 cent stamps, but way back in the day.
I remember sending out hundreds of these cards to everyone, all the top baseball players that I liked or whatever. And I remember sending multiple ones to people. Well, anyway, months went by — probably years went by. I can’t remember. I only ever got one response back from all that effort that I did, and it was from Dale Murphy. It was pretty neat cause he sent me several cards and a big picture, and I still have that picture autographed and in my office to this day. I just remember getting the letter, and it was a typed out letter, but he personally signed it on the bottom. Like, what a standup guy, you know, a little nine, 10-year-old kid.
I don’t exactly remember how old I was at some time, but little league age. That was the best treasure in the world. He instantly became my favorite athlete ever because he truly cared about his fans.
So to sum it up, Matt, in three words, what does Dale Murphy mean to you?
This is a tough one because I originally wanted to tell you, Hall of Famer. He truly belongs in the hall of fame. I guess I would sum it up by saying, he’s my childhood hero. Dale’s a good dude. I enjoyed the opportunity that we had working with him and I enjoyed getting to know him better on a personal level.
It was really neat having him at all those events. You put these people at such high pedestals and it’s neat to get to know the human part of them. A lot of times, the athlete, they’re this pedestal high God to you. He’s still awesome and stuff like that, but you realize there’s this human behind it, and it’s fun talking with him and getting to know him and just realizing it’s also good to know that this dude that you thought so highly of is actually a good dude. He just takes that time and that effort, no matter what. That was really cool.
Luke A. (58:27):
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