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BRAVES RETIRE UNIFORM OF DALE MURPHY

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Dale Murphy has been retired a year. He still misses playing.

"I'd be the first to admit I'd love to be out there," Murphy said Monday night before ceremonies in which his uniform No. 3 was retired by the Atlanta Braves.Murphy, 38, retired last May after playing six weeks with the Colorado Rockies, hitting .143.

"I was going to get released by the Rockies, so it wasn't a hard decision," he said. "I wasn't playing well."

It's the second time Murphy has been honored by the Braves.

The first time was in 1991, a year after he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after 14 seasons with the Braves. That was when Atlanta honored him with a night and Murphy was still playing.

"This one is different," Murphy said before Monday night's game with the Rockies. "Then I was still playing ball. This one's - kind of like - for real."

During his career, Murphy hit .265 with 398 home runs, 2,111 hits and 1,266 RBIs. He won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1982 and 1983.

During the 15-minute ceremony - with his wife Nancy, eight children and parents in attendance - the crowd was shown a video of Murphy's career, set to "Wind Beneath My Wings," by Bette Midler.

He also received a number of gifts and watched as a plaque on the facade in center field was unveiled to reveal his name and number.

Murphy's is the fifth number retired by the Braves. The others are Warren Spahn, Phil Niekro, Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron.

"It's a great honor. We're really moved, Nancy and I, by the whole thing," said Murphy, who said he was in awe of the others.

"I just see what they've done and what I've done. It doesn't compare. I'm not really that caliber. That's all I can say," he said. "It's a fact."

It's also a fact that the well-liked and low-key Murphy made the All-Star team seven times and won five Gold Glove awards.

He said for the time being he would not seek a job in baseball, spending time instead with his family, but misses the sport more than he thought he would.

"I see Andre Dawson playing and I get a little jealous," Murphy said of the Boston outfielder who broke into the majors about the same time he did.

Murphy, who owns a farm in Grantville, 40 miles south of Atlanta, said his biggest disappointment in baseball was not hitting 400 home runs, finishing two homers short.

His home run totals in his last four seasons went from 24 to 18 to two to zero.

"I wanted to do that probably more than I let on," he said. "But when I couldn't hit one out in Denver - even in BP (batting practice) - I thought it best to retire."