Just two homers shy of 400 and struggling at the end of a 17-year career, two-time National League most valuable player Dale Murphy retired Thursday.
Murphy, hitting .143 with no homers and seven runs batted in as a backup for the expansion Colorado Rockies, made the announcement at a hastily arranged news conference before a game with the Houston Astros.
"I had a few tears this morning . . . as I guess most guys do when they say goodbye to something that's close to them," Murphy said. "I'll miss the game of baseball."
The seven-time All-Star who played college ball at Brigham Young choked back tears while discussing the game he started playing when he was 8.
He said there were "many reasons" for the decision, which he arrived at Thursday morning. He said it was time for him to "become part of real life."
"Playing baseball isn't real life, it's a fantasy world," he said. "To be able to go out there and play baseball, it's a dream come true."
Murphy, 37, acknowledged his poor performance with the Rockies. He said club officials, needing to make a roster move, had hinted at his release.
"I have no problem with that; they have to do what they have to do," he said. "I haven't really been doing the job, which was fairly obvious."
Aside from not winning a World Series, Murphy said he regrets not reaching the 400-homer plateau.
"I should have done it," he said. "I had plenty of pitches and plenty of opportunities to do it. I didn't do it. I'm thankful to be able to be around and hit those that I did."
The Rockies asked Murphy to stay with the club in some capacity. He declined, saying that while he hasn't decided what his future holds, his baseball life is over.
On April 3, Murphy was released from his minor-league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies so he could sign a one-year contract with Colorado, which needed veteran bench support.
Murphy was Atlanta's first pick in the June 1974 amateur draft. He won Gold Gloves from 1982-86 and was the NL MVP in 1982 and '83.
Murphy was traded to the Phillies with pitcher Tommy Greene in August 1990 for Jeff Parrett, Jim Vatcher, and Victor Rosario.
Murphy was 27th on the career home run list and fourth among active players.
In spring training this year, he hit .231 in 14 games as a non-roster player. He played in only 18 games last year because of knee surgery, hitting .161 with two home runs.
Retiring, he said, was something he had been thinking about since he was recuperating last summer.
Murphy said he planned to return Thursday night to Grantville, Ga., where he lives with his wife, Nancy, and their seven sons.
Murphy was 27th on the career home run list.
Murphy finished with 2,111 hits, 1,266 RBI and .265 average. During his MVP seasons, he had 36 homers and 109 RBI in 1982, while he hit .302 the following year to go along with 36 homers and 121 RBI.