Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Former voice of the Mets, 79, dies

The Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Murphy, who covered the New York Mets from the team's inception in 1962 until his retirement after last season, died Tuesday. He was 79.

Murphy died at the Hospice of Palm Beach County, the team said. He had battled lung cancer since his retirement.

Murphy worked as a baseball broadcaster for 50 years, starting with the Boston Red Sox in 1954 and then moving to the Baltimore Orioles in 1960. He came to the expansion Mets in their first year, joining Lindsay Nelson and Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner as the broadcast team. The trio worked together on radio and television for 17 years before Nelson left for San Francisco.

"It's like losing a brother," Kiner said in a statement. "We did everything together - we went to movies, ate together and traveled together. It's so hard to fathom he's gone. It's has been a terrible year for me - first I lose my wife to cancer and now Bob."

Murphy spent the final 15 years of his career working on Mets radio broadcasts with Gary Cohen. Kiner called his longtime partner "the brother I never had."

Murphy's signature phrases included talking about "the happy recap," after Mets victories and cautioning fans listening to broadcasts of tight games to "fasten your seat belts."

"He could always find a silver lining, even when things weren't going well. I liked that about him," said Yankees manager Joe Torre, a former Mets manager and player. "He loved what he did for a living, right to the very end."

Murphy was honored by the Mets at Shea in September.

"I've just loved it. It's been an incredible ride," Murphy told the fans, who chanted "Mur-phy! Mur-phy!" when the broadcaster was introduced. "I'm going to start missing you all the minute I walk off this field."

Murphy received the Ford Frick Award in 1994 and was inducted into the broadcasters' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The radio booth at Shea was named in his honor last season.

The San Diego Padres' former ballpark was known as Jack Murphy Stadium from 1981-1997, named after his brother, the former sports editor of The San Diego Union, in 1981.

Murphy is survived by his wife, Joye; and children Kevin Murphy, Kasey Murphy, Kelly Morris, Penny Haft, Patricia Haft and Brian Murphy. A private family gathering is scheduled for today in Florida, and the Mets said a memorial service in the New York area will take place at an unspecified date.

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