50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: Former Mets G.M. Who Helped Put Together The Amazing Mets: Johnny Murphy (1962-1970)
John Joseph Murphy was born on July 14th, 1908 in New York City. He attended Fordham Prep. High School in the Bronx, & then moved on to Fordham University both located in the Bronx, New York.
He would be forever known as "Fordham Johnny" as well as other nicknames "Fireman" & "Grandma". Murphy was a tall right handed pitcher that became one of the best relievers of his era.
In 1934 he began his career as a starter, making twenty starts in 40 games, going 14-10 with a 3.12 ERA on the season. He would make spot starts throughout his career but found success in the bullpen He would pitch 12 seasons for the AL New York club, winning six World Series titles while leading the league in saves four times.
In a time where it wasn't a glamorous position, Murphy was an All Star reliever earning three All Star appearances. From 1938 through 1942 he led the AL in saves all but one season.
In 1941 he also led the league in games finished (31), he went 8-3 while posting a 1.98 ERA (the best of his career). The next season his record fell to 4-10 but he led the league in saves once again with 11. In 1942 Murphy had possibly his best season; he was 12-4 with eight saves & a 2.51 ERA. He received some votes for the MVP Award as well.
Post Season: In six World Series appearances he was 2-0 with four saves & a 1.10 ERA. He earned victories in the 1939 Series, winning Game #4 against the Cincinnati Reds finishing off a series sweep.
He earned another win in 1941 beating Hugh Casey & the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game #4. Johnny Murphy earned one save appearing in just one game of every World Series from 1936-1938. In his last Series in 1943 he earned his final World Series save in Game #3 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 1944 he served in World War II & placed himself on the voluntary retired list so he could work in the war effort. He returned for one more season in New York in 1946 & then finished out his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1947.
In 13 seasons Murphy was 93-53 with 107 saves (114th all time). He finished 293 games (115th all time), striking out 378 batters walking 444 in 1045 innings pitched. He posted a 3.50 ERA in 415 appearances. His 637 win loss percent is 43rd on the all time list.
After his pitching days he was hired by Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey to serve as Director of Minor League Operations. He held that position for 13 years until 1960 when he was dismissed.
In 1961 he joined his old boss George Weiss who had been running the AL New York club & was now the General Manger of the expansion New York Mets. Murphy would become the team’s Vice President for principal owner Joan Payson, until 1967 when he replaced Bing Devine as the Mets General Manager.
At that point in time, the Mets were bringing up all their talented pitchers like Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman & Tug McGraw.
Murphy went out & traded position players in order to get Gil Hodges who was managing the Washington Senators. Gil Hodges was the man he & the ownership wanted to manage the young Mets. Murphy worked with Hodges to make deals in getting Tommie Aggie, Al Weis & J.C. Martin from the Chicago White Sox.
During the 1969 season he managed to acquire slugger; Don Clendenon at the trade dead lineand add his bat to the Met line up. All the pieces fit by the Summer & Fall of 1969 and the New York Mets became the Amazing Mets as they shocked the world by winning the World Series.
Murphy was instrumental in putting together the Championship team & turning the franchise around from loveable losers to World Champions.
After enjoying the celebrations that come with winning championships it was back to work for Murphy. He & president M. Donald Grant agreed to give Gil Hodges a three year contract extension at $70,000 a year.
The last deal Murphy would make as G.M. came in December as they tried to fill the much needed third base position, after the retirement of Ed Charles. Murphy pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Amos Otis & Bob Johnson to Kansas City for Bronx born; Joe Foy. It was a disaster but Murphy didn't live lone enough to see how bad it was.
Unfortunately Murphy would only enjoy the success of the Mets Championship for less than three months. He suffered a fatal heart attack, at his Bronxville, NY home in January of 1970 at the age of 61.
The organization was lost & was not prepared to fill his spot. Whitey Herzog knew the organization the best, but he was too opinionated & tough for M. Donald Grant to deal with. The team chose Bob Scheffing as Murphy's replacement.