The familiar phrases like "there's a long drive, hit deeeeeeeep to left..." and "fasten your seatbelts, fans, it's the ninth inning," were staples of Bob Murphy's repertoire, as was "the happy recap," after a Met victory.
If you're a Met fan, you heard "Murph" countless times, his voice fill your home, your car, your mind with images of your favorite team. You remember hearing his call when Jesse Orosco struck out Marty Barrett to win the 1986 World Series or when Lenny Dykstra hit the homer to win Game 4 of the National League Championship Series that same magical year.
Any time highlights of Game 6 of that tremendous World Series is played on ESPN Classic, it's Murphy's words that called perhaps the most famous play in baseball history.
"It's a slow roller behind the bag....it's a fair ball and it gets by Buckner. Here comes Knight and the Mets win. They win!"
Those are words that are entrenched in my memory, there forever, just like the famous call by Russ Hodges when Bobby Thomson hit the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" to win the 1951 National League pennant for the Giants.
I wasn't around then, but I know that call.
But I grew up listening to Murphy and Lindsay Nelson and Ralph Kiner calling the Met games. I became accustomed to having Murphy as part of my summer ritual for as long as I can remember, from the days of the little black transistor being glued to my ear when I went to bed at night to the nights of driving for hours, hanging on every word that "Murph" painted for me as I cheered on my favorite team.
John Nagel, the veteran St. Dominic Academy athletic director and track and field coach, once admitted to me that he wasn't a Met fan or a Yankee fan so to speak, that he was a baseball fan, but that he did have one allegiance - to Bob Murphy.
"He was the voice of summer," Nagel said last week, reflecting on the passing of Murphy, who died after a battle with lung cancer at the age of 79, less than a full year after retiring as the voice of the Mets. "He was a background sound to your life for six months a year. There was a sense of predictability that he was always going to be there with the unique sound that he went through things. He was always positive that there was always going to be another day. For me, summer meant Bruce Springsteen music and Bob Murphy on the radio, and it was that way for years and years."
Nagel said that he was fortunate enough to have met Murphy on a few occasions, and after telling Murphy how much of a fan he was, Murphy left Nagel tickets to some Met games on the road.
"He was a very nice man, a friendly stranger," Nagel said.
And Bob Murphy is a voice that has been silenced now, but will never be forgotten. There's no happy recap to this story. He will be sorely missed....
Another Met fan who will be sorely missed is long-time Jersey City employee Joe Gallagher, who ironically died one day after Murphy did. Gallagher served many different capacities during his tenure in Jersey City, including a stint as the aide to Heights Councilman Danny Waddleton. Joe Gallagher was a good man with a good sense of humor who followed the Mets even closer than I did. Here's to hoping that both "Murph" and "Joey G" are enjoying a ball game and a beer in some better place today...
North Bergen native Steve Mocco has announced that he is officially transferring to Oklahoma State, beginning this fall and will wrestle for the Cowboys.
Mocco, who won the 2003 NCAA national championship in the heavyweight class for the University of Iowa, took a year off from collegiate wrestling to concentrate on trying to make the U.S. Olympic team this year.
Mocco finished third at the U.S. National trials, failing to gain a spot on the squad.
Mocco told respected wrestling website, TheMat.com, that he looks forward to the opportunity to be coached and trained by legendary world champion John Smith, the coach at Oklahoma State.
"John Smith is one of the greatest freestyle wrestlers ever and he is one of the greatest coaches ever as well," Mocco said on the website. "With the amount of talent in the room at OSU next year, I feel that I should definitely be able to reach my goals."
Mocco was the NCAA runner-up at heavyweight as a freshman in 2002 before winning as a sophomore.
Two months ago, Mocco asked for a release from his scholarship from the University of Iowa, which had already recruited wrestlers to replace Mocco, after he took the year off. Mocco had an incredible 71-3 record at Iowa.... -