Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Our happy recap

I've been a Mets fan for as long as I can remember, which means that Bob Murphy was the only Mets voice I ever knew. That's not especially meaningful, until you consider there are people 25 years my senior could easily say the same thing.

When I flipped on the radio today and heard of Murphy's death, I felt a collective sigh from the baseball fans of New York. Mets or Yankees, you had to love him.

As much as I'd like be the one to eulogize Murph, I think that's best left to my colleagues at Newsday, who can speak more eloquently and comprehensively about what he meant to baseball, the Mets, and New York. Instead, I'd like to share with you, as a fan, some of my all-time favorite "Murphisms." I hope you'll enjoy them along with me.

5. The mishaps. One of the most lovable things about a pretty lovable guy was his on-air blunders. Anyone else remember the time he introduced broadcast partner Ted Robinson as Ted Kennedy? And there was the classic "d-bomb" uttered at the end of a gut-wrenching Mets win in 1990: "And the Mets win the ball game, they win the damn thing on by a score of 10-9!"

Whether it was a cough, a pause, or an occasional name mix-up, Murph's goofs reminded us that he, like the rest of us, was only human.

4. "Hiiiiigh fly ball hit deeeeeep to left field." Murph's voice crescendoed as the ball sailed towards the bleachers. You could hear the fans buzzing in the background. Finally: "Gone! A home run!" It may have been the most understated home run call in baseball. It was also one of the most evocative, and one of the best.

3. "Fasten your seatbelts." Translation: "Uh-oh. It's the top of the ninth, the Mets are up by one, and here comes John Franco against the heart of the order."

With three simple words, Murphy fashioned a tension that could only be replicated by the clenched teeth, sweaty foreheads, and praying hands of TV close-ups. No one called a tight game quite like Murph.

2. "Heeeeeeeee struck hiiiiim out!" No one's really sure why Bob's elongated phrases were so popular, but this was by far the most immitated. Whether it was Tom Terrific, Tug, Doc, Leiter or Franco on the hill, nothing was more satisfying than Murph's exaggerated strikeout call. Of course, those words will always have an exalted place in Mets history, since they described the final pitches in both the 1986 NLCS and World Series.

1. "The happy recap." Was there any doubt? It wasn't a Mets win without Bob's "happy recap." Murph took plenty of knocks for being too much of a homer, but in this respect he was only conveying the joy and excitement each fan felt after another big win.

More from Newsday.com:
  • 'Murph' dead at 79. Read more
  • Share your memories of Bob Murphy. Click here.
  • Hear audio clips of some of Murph's calls. Click here.
  • See photos of Murph through the years. Click here.

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