Beloved actor reminisces about his love of the game, Minors
By Danny Wild / MLB.com | June 20, 2012 4:41 PM ET
Bill Murray took the stage Tuesday afternoon in Charleston to accept his induction into the South Atlantic League's Hall of Fame, dressed in a green-and-pink plaid jacket combination.
Of course, he somehow pulled it off.
"I know when you get inducted into the Hall of Fame, you have to wear some hideous jacket," he said. "I have no prepared remarks, so if you've got a parking meter to get to, go ahead, 'cause I could go on."
Murray, a part-owner of the All-Star Game host Class A Charleston RiverDogs, told the assembled guests about his childhood growing up in awe of ballparks and Major Leaguers. He currently holds the title of "Director of Fun" with the RiverDogs, the Yankees' affiliate in the Sally League.
"I don't understand why I'm being inducted into the Hall of Fame," he said. "I'm not going to say no, no one's ever asked me to be in a Hall of Fame before. This is a first, so I'm going all the way with it."
Murray, who just last week entertained fans running around the tarp during a rain delay, spoke about his enjoyment of being involved with Minor League operations. The RiverDogs are just one club he partially owns, joining Class A Hudson Valley and a pair of independent league clubs.
"I've been lucky to be in the baseball business," said Murray, who told a story about riding the train with his father and brother past Wrigley Field as a child, yearning to one day go inside. During his first trip inside the antique ballpark, brother Brian made him cover his eyes as he walked up a tunnel toward the field.
"He walked me up the steps, and then he took my hands away, and I saw the most beautiful building I've ever seen in my life," Murray said. "A field of green and a wall of green and a scoreboard of green and fans of all colors. My heart just leaped, and I thought, 'Ahh, this is where I'm supposed to be, this feels like one of my homes, maybe I was at home here a long time ago.'"
Murray then told a story about his first step into baseball when he co-owned an independent league team in Texas which ran odd promotions offering free tickets to fans who brought "dangerous fish" to the ballpark.
"I've been lucky to get into this baseball world, because I was invited, and I've been lucky to make friends with people I've done it with."
Two such friends are RiverDogs president Mike Veeck and co-owner Marv Goldklang, who together own several clubs under the Goldklang Group. Sitting alongside Murray during the speech was Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
Murray also had some messages for the players in attendance -- he deadpanned the Northern Division All-Star team, likening them to Civil War enemies from the North in hostile Charleston.
"You are invading, and you're not gonna be welcome at the ballpark tonight," he said, drawing laughs. "There will be no fans in your dressing room, there will be no running water or toilets in your dressing room."
Murray, the star of memorable films such as Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation and Caddyshack, said he's been involved with the Sally League club since 1984, noting the "still-rusting" nearby ballpark the RiverDogs moved out of.
"I don't know if any of you players were alive back then," he told the assembled All-Stars.
Murray told the All-Star team that, in his opinion, they are the most talented group of players to grace the league.
"You'll never have another night or day like today," he said.
Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.