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NY area writers remember Murphy08/04/2004 6:11 PM ET
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Bob Murphy belonged to a larger family, the family of baseball media. Murphy's death moved the baseball kin to step into the memory machine, "fasten their seatbelts" and narrate favorite recollections of the Voice of Summer. Mike Lupica, New York Daily News:
I was thinking about him yesterday morning. I knew he was fighting lung cancer, and it occurred to me that we really hadn't heard much about him since the announcement about that cancer. I got his number from the Mets and called his home in Florida and his stepdaughter answered the phone. When I asked her if Bob was there, there was a long pause and she finally said, "He and my mother are out right now." I told her just to give him the message that I'd called, and had been thinking about him. She said that her mother would probably be the one to call back. Before I hung up, I asked Penny, the stepdaughter, a question. "How's his voice?" And she said, "His voice is just fine."
But the game that excited him the most, even at the age of 75, which is what he was that night in Atlanta (during the 1999 NL Championship Series), was always the one he was about to watch. I always liked to get with Murph before the biggest games, just because it was the same with me as it was with everybody. Murph had been the first to take me to a Mets game, on a radio station in Syracuse in 1962. And what I remember best from that night in Atlanta, a couple of hours before the Mets season would end in the bottom of the 10th, was Murph looking up and talking about the improbability of the Mets even making it to a game like this. "Isn't baseball wonderful?" he said. Richard Sandomir, New York Times:
In a 1994 interview he said that his mentor, Curt Gowdy, with whom he called Boston Red Sox games in the 1950s, told him, "Let's announce like we're friends, just talking to each other." His geniality seldom faded, but one day in the early 1990s he showed, what was for him, nearly blasphemous frustration at the end of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets were leading 10-3 in the ninth and the Phillies scored six runs without a sharply hit ball. "Line drive -- caught!" he said, relieved. "The game's over. The Mets win it. A line drive to Mario Diaz. They win the damned thing!"
Last September, for Murphy's finale, the Mets reunited him on television with Kiner. At one point, Kiner said to Murphy, "Remember when you said, 'Bob Aspromonte's parents are here, and they're high and outside?'"
How positive was Murphy? In his acceptance speech for receiving the 1994 Ford C. Frick Award, which placed him in the Baseball Hall of Fame's broadcasters' wing, he used the word "wonderful" eight times, "fun" six times and "marvelous" five times, according to The [Hackensack, N.J.] Record. Joe Gergen, Newsday:
According to Kiner, Murphy had a passion for cars, especially fast cars. Murphy once drove straight through from Long Island to the Mets' camp headquarters in St. Petersburg, Fla., with stops only for coffee. The strain apparently left him slightly frazzled because, as the desk clerk later showed Kiner and Nelson, he signed the hotel register as "Robert E. Mets." Jack O'Connell, Hartford Courant:
Murphy credited Roger Maris with getting him the Mets job. His call of Maris' 60th home run off the Orioles' Jack Fisher in 1961 was said to have convinced the Mets to hire Murphy, who had spent two seasons in Baltimore after six years alongside Curt Gowdy with the Red Sox. Murphy's brother Jack, who died in 1980, was the sports editor of the San Diego Union. Jack advised him to pretend the microphone was a typewriter and report the game. "That's what I tried to do," Murphy said. Kevin Manahan, Newark Star-Ledger:
Former Star-Ledger beat writer Dan Castellano once lost a bet to Mets manager Davey Johnson, who demanded that Castellano shave his beard. The next day, when Castellano arrived at Wrigley Field, Murphy asked if he would be a guest on the pregame radio show. "But you probably don't want to talk about losing the bet, right?" Murphy asked. Castellano nodded. "So, we're in the booth and they're counting down, '5, 4, 3, 2, 1,'" Castellano recalled yesterday, "and Murphy opens the show with 'So, Dan, what was it like to lose that bet?'" Andrew Marchand, New York Post:
[Howie] Rose remembers a game he called with Murphy in which the Giants' Roger Samuels tried to slip a 3-1 fastball past Howard Johnson. Johnson crushed it for a homer. Rose asked Murphy, "Why would [Samuels] try to slip a fastball past HoJo in that spot?" "Murph comes back with this gem: 'It is like trying to slip sunrise past a rooster,' " Rose said. "And you love that stuff. That was him. There was so much more to him."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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