Sports Corner

Murph’s special day

The former clubhouse manager gets his due

On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 27, the Giants threw a party for Mike Murphy at Oracle Park, and tens of thousands of well-wishers came to celebrate. Besides the paid crowd of 31,047 fans, more than 50 Giants alumni players and front-office personnel traveled from far and wide to personally thank the legendary clubhouse manager for all the many favors he did for them over the years.

With Murphy’s favorite Sinatra tunes providing the accompaniment over the loudspeakers, a parade of Giants legends walked the yellow carpet from the dugout to the two rows of seats in front of the pitcher’s mound. Former Giants players-turned-broadcasters Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow served as M.C.s for the hour-long pregame affair.

In his opening remarks, Kuiper set the tone for the proceedings. “We’re here today to celebrate an individual who influenced each of the more than 2,500 players who came through the Giants clubhouse during his 65-year tenure. Today we induct the great Mike Murphy into the Giants Wall of Fame.”

Krukow picked it up from there. “Murph fed us. He kept us groomed and confident. And he always made sure we looked sharp when we put on the uniform he loved with all his heart,” said Krukow of the 81-year-old who joined the Giants as a batboy in 1958, the team’s first season in San Francisco after relocating from New York. “So Murph, like Sinatra’s lyrics, you did it your way, and you did good.”

In 1960, Murphy was named visitors’ clubhouse manager and in 1980 was elevated to Giants clubhouse manager, where he served for 35 seasons before going into semiretirement in 2015. “Over the winter, Murph officially retired, saying it was finally time to spend a summer away from baseball,” said Giants President and CEO Larry Baer. “There was no hesitation when we began discussing how to honor one of the most beloved figures in our organization, which was to put him on our Wall of Fame, our living tribute to the generations of San Francisco Giants greats, including players, owners and now Murph!”

Home run king Barry Bonds came to the podium to offer his personal take. The son of Giants great Bobby Bonds, Barry grew up at Candlestick Park when his dad patrolled the outfield in the ’70s, then he returned as a player in 1993. “No one knows this, but back in those boyhood days, Murph was my babysitter,” said Bonds. “As a player, I just want to thank Mike for everything he did for all of us. You treated us all equally, made us all feel we were important. I don’t know what else to say except ‘thank you, Mike’ for all you did for me and my family, even our children.”

Former pitching ace Ryan Vogelsong echoed Bonds’s sentiments. “Whenever things were going crazy, Murph would swoop in like Superman as the calming force,” said Vogelsong. “He would take care of everything and make you feel so much better.”

Perhaps it was Will “The Thrill” Clark who put it best. “One of Mike Murphy’s greatest all-time quotes was, ‘I was here before you got here and I’ll be here when you’ve gone.’ Then he dedicated himself to making our time here as enjoyable as possible,’” said the Wall-of-Fame first baseman. “Murph truly embodies what it means to be a Forever Giant.”

When the plaque was unveiled outside the ballpark, shown in real-time on the center field scoreboard, Murphy came to the dais and was characteristically self-effacing in his comments. “I just want to thank Larry Baer and the Giants organization for this tremendous honor,” he said. “I also want to thank my beautiful wife, Carole, and my entire family for their support over these many years. God bless you all, and what a group that came out for me today.”

When the ceremony ended, Murphy stuck around to throw the ceremonial pitch before the game against the Atlanta Braves. Naturally, it was a strike, right down Broadway.

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