Dale Murphy pointed to a group of people who represented the Seattle Mariners.
"You know what you need?" he asked. "You don't have a rival. Who's your rival? You don't have one. It should be Portland."
Murphy, a special guest speaker at Thursday night's Friends of Baseball Gala at the Portland Art Museum, went on to praise the group of people working behind the scenes trying to bring a major-league baseball franchise to Portland. Earlier, Murphy shared with me that he'd met with a representative of that group and was filled in on what's happening with the baseball effort.
"Being from here, when people hear the possibility of baseball, they want to know who's involved and you want it to be done the right way," said Murphy, a star at Portland's Wilson High School who now lives in Utah. "I had a great opportunity to meet with Mike Barrett and the one thing I would say is that you should have no concerns about the group that is handling this. These are good people who care about the city of Portland. That's what you want.
"I have the utmost confidence in the group that is pursuing this. They are doing it the right way and it's going to be something that is going to make this city proud. I have a lot of confidence in them. There is so much work to be done and they are doing things the right way. Sometimes people want publicity and adulation but this group is doing it right -- getting the work done and taking care of the things that need to be taken care of. That's what this group has done.
"I want someone who is going to understand Portland and how much we love the city. We want things done the right way and that's what they're doing."
Murphy's parents still live in Portland, he visits frequently and is visibly excited about an MLB franchise in his home town.
"I just opened a restaurant in Atlanta and I was thinking, 'Man, that would be fun to have a Murph's right by the ballpark.' If something happens here I will be in touch with this group to talk about a lot of possibilities. I would absolutely like to be involved in it. It was such a great opportunity to learn more about what they're doing and be a part of the cheering section. Baseball can mean so much to this area.
"So much has changed in the landscape of baseball franchises. The way they're building stadiums, for instance. The way they built SunTrust Park in Atlanta... with the mixed-use development, a smaller ballpark -- the ballparks become such a part of the community. These people doing this understand Portland and what a special place it is, on so many levels. This group is something the people of Portland can be proud of and get behind."
Murphy is planning on sticking around to watch one of his sons play for Weber State Saturday against Portland State. It's been an eventful week for him, too. Earlier this week he learned that he was on the list of 10 candidates to be reconsidered for baseball's Hall of Fame.
Murphy had a distinguished big-league career and was considered among the best players of his era. He played 18 seasons with the Braves, Phillies and Rockies and won back-to-back NL MVP awards in 1982 and 1983. He was also a seven-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove Award winner and four-time Silver Slugger Award. Murphy finished his career with a .265 average, 398 home runs and 1,266 RBIs. He led all Major League outfielders during the 1980s in home runs and RBIs. He also ranked second among outfielders in hits and extra-base hits.