An Interview with Iván Murrell

added 11/25/02 by Darrell Pittman

Iván Murrell was born in Panama, moved to Costa Rica, then back to Panama where he started playing baseball and was noticed by Major League scouts. He was signed in 1963 by the expansion Houston Colt .45s. He played in the Colt .45s/Astros organization until 1968 (missing two seasons due to a knee injury), then played with the Padres and the Braves. After that, he played several seasons in the Mexican League before hanging up his spikes to pursue a coaching career with high school and college players.

He was kind enough to be interviewed for the AstrosDaily by telephone from his home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation:

(c) Houston Astros
Darrell Pittman: In your youth, you excelled at basketball, volleyball, and soccer, and you were also undefeated in amateur boxing. How did you start out in baseball, and why did you choose it over the other sports?

Iván Murrell: At that time my mom lived in Costa Rica and my dad lived in Panama, so I went to spend some time with him in Panama. They didn't have any soccer and I couldn't do any boxing, as I was bigger than all the kids. I actually started playing baseball at the age of just about 17 years old.

DP: Who scouted you for baseball, and can you tell us how they signed you? Did you have competing offers?

IM: I was scouted. There were several guys. The Boston Red Sox were after me, but the guy that signed me was the Houston Colt .45s Cuban scout by the name of Tony Pacheco.

DP: They signed you as a free agent in May of 1963?

IM: Yeah, free agent. We didn't have the school draft in Panama, or anything like that. That's changed now, I think they're trying to do it all over the world. But back then they could sign you at any age. There's a lot of guys that signed at age 15 or 16. I signed when I was just over 18.

DP: Did you go into the Colts' minor league system, and if so, where did you play?

IM: I played 40 games in Moultrie, GA. That was the Georgia State League. I played 40 games there, then got called up to Houston. That's the Colt .45s, the old Colt .45 Stadium.

DP: You were a September call-up, correct? And you made your debut against the Mets, in Houston. What were you feelings when you stepped onto the field to play in your first Major League game?

IM: My first Major League game was against the Chicago Cubs. It was my first game; my first at-bat I got a base hit.

DP: Did you start the game or did you pinch hit?

IM: No, I started it. That was a group of when they played all the 18-year-olds, that group of rookies.

DP: What was your most memorable game as a Houston player, or most memorable accomplishment, with Houston?

IM: My most memorable game with Houston? I would say that first game, that first at-bat, because I had never seen 50,000 people before. When I got into the game, I was playing center field. [Al] Spangler was in left, and Carl Warwick was in right. Man, I felt terrible. I felt like a grasshopper, until I made the first play. They hit a ball to me and I caught it, then it's like "Oh my God, I'm here! Better wake up!". It's the strangest feeling, I cannot explain how I felt very little. As a matter of fact that ball almost hit me because I was so amazed, or so in awe, that if it wasn't for Spangler who hollered at me "You got it!" that ball would probably have hit me in the head.

DP: It's got to be a pretty overwhelming experience.

IM: Yes, it was.

DP: Do you have any other recollections of the old Colt Stadium?

IM: There were some humongous mosquitos out there. I remember it was very very hot and they had the wooden stands way way back. It was very hot. Anytime they wanted to punish us, chastise us or something like that, they would send us over there to work out. That's after they built the Astrodome. I remember in centerfield there was a big sign for Sunbeam Bread. Anybody who could hit it there or get it over would get a thousand dollars, way back then.

DP: That was a lot of money back then.

IM: That was definitely a lot of money back then. My major league salary was $5500.

DP: Not too shabby of an incentive.

IM: Yes, a thousand dollars was a lot of money. We had the incentive bonus, the one you get as you go up the ladder. $1000 in class A, $1500 in Double A and $5000 in major league. So, I got all mine at one time, because I didn't go to Double A or Triple A. I played Triple A later on in my career, but right then I just skipped it all and went straight to the big leagues.

DP: You missed the 65 and 66 seasons due to a knee injury.

IM: 1965. I came back in 1966. I was supposed to be the opening centerfielder for Houston and I blew my knee out the day we left camp.

DP: How did the injury come about? What did you have to do to recover?

IM: I was in center field playing center and because of, I think the kid's name was [unnamed], he was a rookie short, one of their bonus babies. [unnamed] , he was a big bonus baby. He was playing the last game in shortstop and I was in centerfield. There was a little pop fly right behind shortstop into shallow center field. I came after it and I was about to catch it, I was hollering "I got it!, I got it!", but I guess he didn't hear me. This was in Cocoa, Spring Training, and to avoid running into him, I tried to do a skip catch and get out of the way and my feet did not turn. My body went that way, but my feet got stuck in the grass and you could hear it... POW!, it just popped out. They took me out on a stretcher. They tried to see if I could heal because I was so young. It didn't work out. They ended up doing surgery later on. I missed the entire year in Cocoa in rehab. As a matter of fact, because of that, I kind of disliked eating eggs after that because I had to drink, in a milkshake, twelve eggs every day, figuring that would help me heal. But I had to have surgery.

DP: You must have come back pretty well because you spent a lot of years playing baseball after that.

IM: Yes, I came back. I didn't have very strong bones. In Costa Rica, I didn't like the milk. They used to drink the milk straight from the cow and I didn't like the cream. I didn't drink a lot of milk when I was little, but I heal fast. I was supposed to be out, and not even come back for Spring Training. I came back before Spring Training because I wanted to play Winter Ball in Panama. Then I came back in Spring Training on the big league roster. They told me I needed to play 100 games in the minor leagues, so I went back to Durham and stayed on in Durham and played. I hurt my shoulder in Durham in the cold weather. Durham was very, very cold. I bounced back again. My arm was much stronger.

DP: While you were recuperating with your knee, the team had changed its name, had a new ballpark...

IM: They changed the name in 1965 because of the problem with the beer and the gun, the Colt .45.

DP: You also had a new ballpark and a new manager. How did you feel about that?

IM: The Astrodome. Well, I was very very excited about it, happy about it. For some unknown reason, I never got the chance to play on an every day basis. They made me a utility player everywhere I went because of the ability I had. I figured that would have helped me, but no, they made me a utility player. I could play left field, right field, center field, first base. A couple of games at third. All of that stuff for the Astros, I don't know what they did, they lost a lot of my records over there.

DP: I'm looking at your fielding stats and you were a superb fielder.

IM: I was pretty good at fielding, throwing, running but for some reason, I never got the opportunity to play every day. If you look at my stats, when I started the game I had over .300 batting average as a starter. What killed me or controlled me was pinch hitting. I hated pinch hitting. You had to sit down on the bench, you don't know when you're going to pinch hit and all of a sudden, "Murrell, grab a bat." Go face Tug McGraw, Bruce Sutter, Mike Marshall, or those guys. That was devastating, I didn't like pinch hitting.

DP: The guys who pinch-hit say it is the toughest job in baseball.

IM: It is. For me it was the toughest one. I have an .050 something or .070 something as a pinch hitter. But as a starter, I have over .300 batting average. They didn't see that, so it's okay. So they kept using me as a pinch hitter. It kind of messed me up, but I enjoyed it. I spent part of twelve years [in the big leagues]. It was fun.

DP: Who were some of you favorite clubhouse personalities or most notable clubhouse personalities when you were in Houston and do you have any stories to tell?

IM: Clubhouse personalities? I would say the one that we really focus on more than anyone else and to me was the greatest was Doug Rader. He was really nuts. He was my old roommate. We played together in Oklahoma City, we lived together and the man was something else. He lives right here in Stuart, too.

DP: They tell me Dick Farrell was somewhat of a cutup too.

IM: Yes, Turk was another crazy one. He and Rader, they were always trying to outdo each other. There were quite a few guys. We never really paid much attention. It was just like having fun. Today they have leaders and clubhouse leaders and all that kind of stuff. That was just like, having fun. We played ball and played hard and we enjoyed it. The money wasn't there, not at all. We didn't know that they had the money, it was such a monopoly back then. We thought they were really struggling and not making any money. We didn't focus on trying to make these big salaries. We just wanted to play. They had us over a barrel. I never got a raise with Houston. I never got a raise with San Diego. I never got a nickel raise. My raise was the minimum. It was amazing. When I got to San Diego, the fans found out what I was making and they collected the money for me. Then the team took it back. The commissioner came, back then it was Bowie Kuhn, he came and took the money. That was terrible. It was rough back then. It was a lot of fun playing baseball and I loved it and wouldn't change anything, except we were living paycheck to paycheck. I made more money in Winter Ball that I did in the big leagues. That should never be. But they appreciated our services more in winter ball than in the major league. In major league, there were so many guys, not like today, there were so many guys waiting for jobs that if you wanted to play, you played for what they offered you. If you didn't want to play, you went home.

DP: There were fewer teams, fewer jobs, and less money.

IM: Fewer teams, fewer jobs, and a lot of good ball players. Lots of them. Look how long Maury Wills played in the minor leagues. And not just him, there were a lot of guys, Lou Johnson, you can mention hundreds of guys who spent eight, nine, ten years in the minor leagues. But today, it's a little washed out. It is diluted, let's put it that way.

DP: Nowadays, they complain about the dilution of the talent pool with all the expansion teams.

IM: Yes, it's unbelievable. But you know that's a big error. We were in the right place at the wrong time. I'll put it that way.

DP: You were one of the first players to play for two expansion clubs, the Colt .45s and the '69 Padres. How did you feel when you learned you were drafted in by the Padres in the expansion draft?

IM: I knew before the draft came up that I would be drafted because Preston Gomez was coaching with the Dodgers and he used to be at the ballpark at the time we were hitting. He asked me, "why aren't you playing?" I said, "Because I don't make the lineup. If I make the lineup, I'll be playing everyday." He watched me hitting and said, "Man, you got a lot of power." He watched me run, watched me take infield. He said to me if he gets the job with one of the expansion teams, he's going to draft me. And he did. They drafted me in the 20th round.

DP: So you weren't surprised at all.

IM: Not really, because I remembered what he told me.

DP: Did it baffle you that the Astros didn't protect you from the draft?

IM: Not really because the Astros never really gave me a chance to play. I never played that much with them. I think they were concerned about my knee, me getting hurt. I never got a chance to play much over there with Jim Wynn there. They had Joe Gaines in the outfield. Back on the .45s they had Johnny Weekly, Walter Bond, so I never got a chance to play. I went to San Diego and I thought I was going to be the steady left fielder and Preston Gomez, the last day, I hit two home runs, the night before, an exhibition game in Seattle. I really thought I was going to be the Opening Day left fielder. I was all excited about the ballpark. I looked and my name was not in the lineup, because it was a right hand pitcher. I didn't say anything. I prefer to hit against a right hand pitcher than a left hand pitcher. I'm a right hand batter. He never understood that, so I just let it go that way and I just stayed there. He told me as long as he was the manager, I had a job. So there was no need for me to complain. I knew I had a job there for all time.

DP: Were you a starter with San Diego? I notice your batting average shoots up there.

IM: He would play me about two or three weeks every day and then they took me out. Then they would play me another two weeks. Everytime my average got up to about .300, I was pulled out for pinch hitting role. I got in trouble for saying it, they didn't want me to do too good. Just before the All-Star game, I'm hitting three-something, about two weeks before the All-star game and they took me out. They benched me. They pinch hit me everyday. My average went down to about .267. Came from three-something. I had a chance to be chosen for the All-star because he's picking.

DP: What were the early days with the Padres like?

IM: The Padres were wonderful. I enjoyed San Diego, oh, man, that was the greatest city. It's crazy now, but back then it was beautiful, the winter was nice. If we'd had some pitching in San Diego, we would have given a lot of teams problems. We could slug it out with anybody. We had one kid over there when I was there, Clay Kirby, he was our ace. Beside him, everyone else was just throwers. Later on we get Randy Jones, and we have some other pitchers, but back then we just had throwers. We had a lot of older guys that were on their last legs. If we didn't have pitching, we had the hitting, Al Ferrara, Ollie Brown, Nate Colbert, Cito Gaston, Leroy Lee, myself, Chris Cannizzaro, Ed Spiezio, you know those guys. We had hitting.

DP: You played in a couple of no-hitters on the losing side. Which stands out in your memory?

IM: I don't remember being in any no hitters in San Diego. Bob Gibson came close, Tom Seaver came close. You don't want to remember a no-hitter [from the losing side]. The most bizarre game I remember was against Tom Seaver in New York. Opener of a twi-night doubleheader, he struck out 19 of us, 10 in a row. I was a pinch hitter, I was in the number 7 slot. The only guy he didn't strike out on the club was our weakest hitter, Jose Garcia. He played second and shortstop. He [Seaver] walked him both times.

DP: I understand you had interesting experiences playing Dock Ellis of the Pirates. Can you tell us what you remember?

IM: Dock Ellis, he was the kind of guy that he would baffle everybody. He liked to keep people thinking or wondering what the heck was going on. He wanted to keep you on your toes. He was the first guy to come out with the jet curl and the curlers in his hair. I remember a night before a game he had on his no-no jacket, he was walking to the bullpen. I was standing in the dugout and he goes, "Murrell, Hey Murrell. Check this out, you got to get one of these." He had curlers in his hair. Little red curlers, when they first started out with that. He kept everybody at bay, you never knew what was going on or what he was in or out of or what the heck he was doing. He kept you wondering. That's the kind of guy he was. No doubt, he would hit you. No second thought about it. That's the way it was back then. You hit a homerun or you get a hit off them. They would just hit you.

DP: That was just part of the game back then.

IM: We knew it. It was no big deal. It has changed so much today. You get a brushback pitch and all of the sudden it's going to start a world war.

DP: If you tried to bunt against Bob Gibson, you were going to get knocked down the next time.

IM: I saw him try to knock Angel Brown down with four straight pitches cause he made him wait. That was just how we played back then. The game was over and we went on. Bob Gibson didn't talk to the opposing player either. It was very competitive back then. There were fewer teams and a lot of good players waiting for your job. You wanted to take care of your job and work hard.

DP: What was it like facing a Bob Gibson or a Tom Seaver?

IM: I had a problem against Seaver. Gibson never bothered me. I like guys that work in on you, agressiveness and all that. I enjoy that. I never got shut out by Gibson, not pinch hitting, not playing against him, no. But Seaver, it took me about 8 to 10 years before I got a hit off of him. And he still remembers that. He was the kind of guy that if he felt you weren't supposed to hit him, he was dead serious about that. He meant you were not going to get a hit off of him. So when I got the hit off of him, he still remembers that to this day. Him and Pete Rose, they got memories like an elephant. They never forget. That's how good a competitor they were.

DP: Your final season in the majors was '74 in Atlanta. How did it come about that you were traded there?

IM: Well, it's a crazy story. I had a choice to go to Atlanta or Chicago. That was my two choices. I thought about it. If I go to Atlanta, I may have a better chance of playing every day. I just wanted to play every day for one season. But, Chicago Cubs told me to wait about week. This was four days before Spring Training was over. And the Braves called me up and said if you are ready, we're ready for you right now. Get your bag, we'll get you a plane ticket and you fly out to West Palm Beach. So I didn't want to wait, I flew to West Palm Beach, got off the plane and went to play right away. Got two hits, played the following day, played a double header, morning, evening game, got two hits in each game and I went to Braves.

DP: So you finally got to play everyday.

IM: I got to play everyday for a while, until they fired [Eddie] Mathews [as Manager]. If Mathews had stayed there, I would have had a better chance of playing, because for some unknown reason there was this Hall-of-Fame power hitter, he used to enjoy watching me hit. He actually gave me Mike Lum's job. But then the unfortunate thing about his [Mathew's] drinking so much was that he got fired. Once he got fired and they brought in Clyde King, that was the end of Iván Murrell. This was before the All-Star Game, Mathews got fired by June, and from June through September, October, three months plus, I got seven at bats. He really messed up my career. After that, they made me a player coach in Triple A, then the following year, '76, they didn't know what they were going to do and asked for my release and I went to play in Mexico. I could have played a few more years in the big leagues, but I was very upset about that.

DP: Can you tell us some about your experiences there in the Mexican league?

IM: The Mexican league, that's something else. It is hard to explain. If you really want to see how much you enjoy playing baseball, play in the Mexican League. I played there from '76 to '85. You had to ride buses for 48 hours and go play ball. The food, I got sick several times over there. As a matter of fact, I had something in my stomach up until three years ago, it came back at me and almost killed me. Don't drink the water, don't eat the lettuce, lots of pepper. That was an experience. I think it has gotten better now. There are a lot of guys that go over there to play and they get called back to the big leagues. Look at Julio Franco and this other guy, you can name several guys that went over there. I had a chance to go to Japan too, and I turned it down. I didn't think the money was enough. At least that's what they told me. I didn't want to go there. I coached for San Diego that year and scouted. I coached first for Cleveland and then I scouted for Oakland. That was the end of my professional baseball career.

DP: I know George Brunet played in the Mexican league until he was well into his 50's.

IM: He played down there for a long time.

DP: I think he finally got killed in a car accident down there.

IM: He got by down there because he had that big overhand slow curve. He could throw the ball about 80-85. Eighty-five mile an hour on a big curve ball. He played until his 50's. That was my goal too, but I got fed up again. I got to a point where they couldn't pay me any more, so they say. So I played two seasons, making the same salary, making $4500 a month. Led the league in home runs, led it in hitting, led it in runs batted in, and I made the same thing the following year. I was fighting for the triple crown again and they called me back and said they couldn't pay me any more so I just said OK, bye. And I quit. That was 1984.

DP: Since you hung up your spikes, you've been coaching high school and college players.

IM: I had a baseball academy, which I still do now. I coach kids on a private type thing because I don't have my own facility and it is very difficult. I coach for a high school here, South Fork High School, for four years. We have the best record ever in the history of the school. I busted a bone in my toe and they wanted me to come back and coach on crutches with a cast and I said no. I can't do that, I'm not going to go out there. I never played baseball half in shape. I'm not going to wait until now to be a cripple to be out there. No, I'm going to be in tip-top shape. If I'm not in good shape, I'm not going to do it. That was the end of my high school career. I coach kids. I have several kids that I've gotten them scholarships and I have four kids that signed professional contracts. They keep me in shape and keep me busy. I wish I had one or two little baseball fields. I would do a lot better. For that you need money. Do you know anybody with a couple of million dollars they want to invest?

DP: I wish!

IM: Tell them to call me up. Down here in Florida you can play ball all year long. Got a lot of players out here but not enough fields. Not enough guys coaching.

DP: I was at a dinner last week, where J. R. Richard got his Texas Baseball Hall of Fame induction, and Gene Elston spoke there. He said one of the things he thought was needed was an American winter league to play in the South.

IM: They could do that here. It gets cool, but it doesn't get cold like up north. One time, they tried to do the senior league a few years ago, 1989, 90, 91, but it folded. It was moving along well, but they ran out of money. That just killed it. That would have been great. They need to do that with these young kids. They've got all the big fields just sitting there. Why someone doesn't open up their head and do that, they could do it. Just to get guys ready for the following season. There doesn't necessarily have to be 5000 people in the stands. These guys can get a good workout, they are in America and they're playing competitive baseball. Nobody has come up with the idea.

DP: In terms of coaching the youngsters there, any hot prospects we should know about?

IM: There are a couple of kids. I have a pitcher named Nick Eric, he's got quite a few colleges running after him. There are some more kids around the area. There is another little one by the name of Keith Hendrick, not this year, but next year when he is a senior, I say watch out for him. He reminds me exactly of Lenny Dykstra. Same look, same thing, little left handed guy, strong. He is going to open up some eyes, I think between this year and next year. He is a junior, next year he will be a senior. I won't say he is ready this year. He is going to play this year, hopefully does good, he should hit about five something and next year is going to open up some eyes. I've been coaching him from the time he was nine years old. I have a few more kids around. They are not quite ready.

DP: I know that Rick Ankiel came up there in Port St. Lucie. Did you work any with him?

IM: I coached him a couple of times, came to Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico. He went to Port St. Lucie High School and I was coaching at South Fork. So I couldn't get him. The guy just took off and boom, boom, boom.

DP: Besides, he is a pitcher.

IM: Yeah, he was a pitcher, he can hit though. He can play outfield. This is one pitcher, that if they wanted, they could switch him pitching and let him play in the outfield or first base and he would do a good job. Guaranteed. The kid can hit. Hits for power, hits for average. He can hit. I had him when he was what, twelve, thirteen? He could hit then. He still can hit. I don't know what is going to happen with him this year, but he can play. I hope he can return to pitching. He has a better chance pitching.

DP: I hope he can get his control back.

IM: I think he has some problem in his shoulder. It wasn't necessarily his control. His shoulder and his elbow was bothering him, but he never said anything about it. I think they were supposed to do arthroscopic surgery on him, but they kept it quiet. That's not him when he throws the ball to the screen. I know the guy very well.

DP: Major league baseball's amateur draft covers only players in the US and Canada. Do you think the draft should be expanded to be worldwide?

IM: I think so. They are trying to get it that way. But I don't know if they are going to do it. There is talk about it, it is in the works, and they should because they abuse the kids from Latin America. They sign them very young, give them low money, nowadays they are beginning to dole out money. I got $500 bonus and in less than two months, I'm in the major leagues. That's a ripoff. They are trying to make changes. I hope they do it.

DP: What do you think about the current state of professional baseball overall right now?

IM: It's not as competitive, and there is not the same love for the game like when we played. It is a business today. When we played, it was a game. I'm all for the guys, get all you can, because once you get out of the game, they kick you to the curb. They need to change that. They need to take care of their people. They've got them all these millions, got the game [where it is], it's not like hockey, basketball, golf. Baseball is completely different from every other sport. They need to take care of the players in some way, shape or form. Baseball wants to get you out and kick you as far away from them as possible. I should be able to go to any game in the United States and if I call them for a ticket, I get more red tape and more hassle and I just tell them, hey, don't worry about it. I can't call up and just talk to anybody. I've been fortunate with the Mets, I've been able talk to them and get some kids tryouts and even signed, but that's the Mets, because I live here and know the guys. They see me around and they know me. If I tell them this kid is okay, it means it's really good. They will look at him. But it is very sad, different. A lot of guys are hurt, not physically, but feelings, their pride, and just the last few years, they are beginning to hire ex-major league players. As many of them and as great as lots of them have been, there are not too many of them [in baseball] because of the treatment.

DP: Do most of [those] go into scouting, coaching or what?

IM: Scouting is tough. No, they don't want scouting. Scouting is a slave job. They'll change the ruling on scouting and it is tough. It is very, very difficult.

DP: Is it mostly because of the travel?

IM: The travel and the requirements. It used to be if you are a scout, you come to look at [an] Iván Murrell, you look at Iván Murrell and you report on Iván Murrell. Now, if you come to look at Iván Murrell, you have to look at Iván Murrell and everybody on the team and send in a report on everybody on the team. And the other team also. So you've got a lot of paperwork and time and the pay is not that great. The guys who are making the money are the big league players. Anyone else is not making that much money.

DP: I imagine most of [the minor league scouts] have to have off-season jobs.

IM: Most definitely. Just like when we played, we had to have off-season jobs too. So that's how the minor league is. The minor league today is like what major league used to be. Way back in the '60s.

DP: Is baseball so different because of the length of time it takes to develop a young player?

IM: No, not really. A young player, if he has the ability and the desire to play, just takes time, work habits, consistency in his work, and hopefully he will learn as he goes, just like the little kid coming out of middle school on to high school, he isn't really fully grown and developed until junior year and then he needs to go to college for a couple of years. It is the same thing in baseball. Very few players come out of college and go into the major leagues. Just a few. Very few players did what I did, coming from where I came from. I had the ability, I did not have the knowledge because I didn't play amateur ball. It's tough, very, very tough. Put it this way, everybody can play, but it is not for everyone to get there because it is not as easy as it appears on TV.

DP: That kind of leads into the next question, do you have any advice for young aspiring ballplayers who want to play professional ball, say for twelve or fifteen year olds?

IM: I would say go to school. My first advice, don't give up the dream, but put your first priority in going to school to get that piece of paper. High school or college. That's forever. Baseball could be one year or two years, if you are lucky. So my advice would be go to school, listen to Mom and Dad, go to school. If you can get scholarship coming out of high school to go to college, great, Mom and Dad will love you more. You're saving them money. But make your first priority school. Go to school.

DP: They have to do something after baseball.

IM: The average of making it to the big leagues is like one in 20,000 or more. And then you may only play a few years. Once you turn 30 or 35, if you did not make millions, you can't sit back and enjoy your money. Like some of us, like me, then you've got to go find yourself a job. And if you didn't have that piece of paper, then what are you going to do, go pump gas? After playing ten, twelve years in the big leagues, no man, that's degrading, you try to get a job, they tell you that you're overqualified because they can't pay you as a former major league player. I can't get a job today. I could if I wanted to go pump gas. Do I want to go pump gas? Is it bad to pump gas? No, but I wouldn't do it. So what do you do? You struggle. That's how it is, man. I would tell them, go to school.

DP: That's sound advice. In terms of the game itself, acquiring and honing their baseball skills, do you have any advice?

IM: You have to be a good athlete. If you are not an athlete, then you are in trouble. Most of the athletes today are playing football or basketball. I made a prediction about a year and a half ago, I said, give it ten or fifteen years from now, baseball will be foreigners, blacks, and Latinos. American kids do not want to play baseball anymore. You will find a few here and there, but they are not dedicated, there are too many distractions, too much to do here. But the hungry ones are the Latinos and if they spread it around the world like they are trying to do, there are a lot of people who are going to take over.

DP: This is the last question. Is there anything that I have not asked you that you would like to tell the readers of AstrosDaily?

IM: I was born in Panama, raised in Costa Rica, been here for 39 years. I've been a US citizen for quite a few years. If you cut my brain you see baseball. I would love to be in baseball, being a hitting instructor or an outfield instructor, but it is very hard. I love the game, I will always love the game. It is my life. It's what Iván is all about. So I would say just about that. I go to Costa Rica every now and then, in fact in a couple of weeks I will be going down. My mom is a little sick, so I'm going to be going down there.

DP: I hope she'll be alright.

IM: Oh, she will, she's a tough cookie. Besides that, I enjoyed the interview. If I could do it over again, I would do it but I'd go back to school and finish my mechanical aviation to be a pilot or mechanic out there. I studied two years of mechanical aviation, I was studying for mechanic or a pilot, but that's when I got into baseball and I just dropped it.

DP: I really enjoyed the interview, too and want to thank you for your time.

IM: My pleasure, man. Stay in touch.

The AstrosDaily wishes to thank Mr. Murrell for taking the time to speak with us!

I would like to thank my lovely bride, Susan Pittman, for transcribing the tape-recorded interview. -- DP