New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: M

Bill Mazer

(Broadcasting. Born, Izyaslav, Ukraine, Nov. 2, 1920; died, Danbury, CT, Oct. 23, 2013.)  An American radio and later television broadcaster noted for his knowledge of sports trivia, and an early sports talk show host, Morris (later known as Bill) Mazer came to his love of sports young.  His family moved from Bill’s native Ukraine to Brooklyn before his first birthday.  Mazer attended Michigan and he got his first broadcasting job in 1941, working for WOOD radio station in Grand Rapids, MI. A year later he was drafted into the Army and served as an officer in the Army Air Forces during World War II. He spent almost 20 years broadcasting in Buffalo before moving to New York in 1964 to host the first regularly-scheduled sports-talk radio show; it was broadcast on WNBC-AM.  Mazer earned the nickname of “The Amazin’ Mazer” and simply “The Amazin’” due to his abundant knowledge of sports trivia. Throughout his career, he authored various books on sports, including The Amazin’ Bill Mazer’s Baseball Trivia Book, The Sports Answer Book, and Amazin’ Bill Mazer’s Football Trivia.  He later became WNEW-TV’s sports anchor, where he hosted Sports Extra on Channel 5 from 1973-86. From 1987 until the early ‘90s, Mazer hosted a lunchtime radio interview show on WFAN from Mickey Mantle’s, a restaurant on Central Park South. He went on to become the morning talk show host on WEVD from 1992-2001. Mazer then hosted a program that his son Arnie had produced on WVOX in New Rochelle, NY, until he retired in 2009. – By Izzy Robinson

Lon Myers

Lon Myers (Track and field. Born, Richmond, VA, Feb. 16, 1858; died, New York, NY, Feb. 15, 1899.) Perhaps at no time in track and field history has a single athlete dominated the sport the way Lawrence E. Myers did from 1879-85, during which time he set world and American records at virtually every distance from 100 yards to one mile. Myers began his track career in 1879 as a member of the Manhattan Athletic Club, then a major rival of the New York A.C. That year, he won the 220, the 440 and the half-mile at the National Association amateur championships. In 1880, the Manhattan A.C. began a string of three straight national team championships, with Myers as the major factor. In that year, he was voted “Best Athlete” at the national championship meet after winning the 100, 220, 440, and half-mile. Even more remarkable, Myers in 1882 became the first non-Briton to win a major event on English soil when he won the 440 in 48.6 seconds at Birmingham July 16. England was then the world’s leading track and field power and a hotbed of the sport. In 1883, Myers defeated English champion W.G. George in a half-mile match race at the Polo Grounds and set an American record in the mile at 4:27.4. He set a world record in the 880 during another English tour in 1884, clocking 1:55.4 at Birmingham on July 7. Upon his retirement in 1885, Myers was honored by a special “night” at Madison Square Garden and given $1,800 by an adoring public.

Jim Mutrie

Jim Mutrie (Baseball. Born, Chelsea, MA, June 13, 1851; died, New York, NY, Jan. 24, 1938.) James J. Mutrie came to New York with the idea of starting a high-level professional baseball club. In the event, he started two. When Mutrie arrived in 1880, the city lacked a big league-quality team since the Mutuals had been expelled from the N.L. after the 1876 season for failure to complete their schedule. Finding a willing backer in John B. Day, Mutrie formed a team he called the Metropolitans composed of the best local talent. He found a place to play in the newly-opened Polo Grounds at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue. The Mets played 151 games in 1881 against ranking semipro teams and many N.L. clubs looking for a good New York payday on the road (especially while going between Boston and the West). In 1883, the Mets moved into the American Association, then the N.L.’s rival. Day also bought out Troy, N.Y., to get an N.L. franchise for New York the same year. Mutrie managed the Mets to the A.A. pennant in 1884 and took them into the first authorized World Series (which they lost to Providence in three straight games at the Polo Grounds). Mutrie then switched to the N.L. club, where he managed for seven years, winning pennants in 1888 and 1889 as well as the World Series both years. In nine seasons, Mutrie was 658-419, a .611 percentage that is the second-highest ever. He is also credited with giving the Giants their nickname by calling his players “my big fellows, my giants.”

Jim Murray

Jim Murray (Fencing. Born, Philadelphia, PA, 1871; died, New York, NY, Jan. 28, 1957.) Considered by many historians to be the first American-born fencing coach of international significance, James Murray Jr., coached at the New York Athletic Club for 64 years and taught the Columbia varsity for 50. For three decades, he journeyed annually to Paris to meet the best European fencers. Several of his Columbia and N.Y.A.C. fencers became U.S. Olympians and one Lion swordsman (John Purroy Mitchell) became mayor of New York. He also tutored for many years at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in the days when Shakespearean action was a staple of the Broadway theatre, teaching sword work to such great stars as John and Lionel Barrymore and John Drew. Murray began his teaching career as a boxing instructor in his native Philadelphia where his father had been a boxer of some note. He came to New York in 1891 as an instructor at the NYAC. Four years later, he was hired as an assistant to Columbia coach Armond Jacoby, whom he succeeded in 1898. As head coach of the Lions, Murray coached 365 dual matches, winning 192, losing 163 with 10 draws. From 1918 to 1920, his teams were 16-2 and from 1935 to 1937, the Lions won 28, lost five and tied one. At a Columbia dinner honoring Murray in May 1948, it was established that over 2,500 students had fenced under his direction at the school. He retired that October but continued with the N.Y.A.C. for another six years. Murray coached several teams that won the Intercollegiate Fencing Association, then considered the national championship, his last coming in 1942.

Eddie Murray

Eddie Murray (Baseball. Born, Los Angeles, CA, Feb. 24, 1956.) Spending the bulk of his career with Baltimore, Eddie Clarence Murray, a taciturn switch-hitting first baseman, played with four other teams, including the Mets (1992-93). Murray hit .261 and .285 in his two Mets seasons, belting 27 homers and driving in 100 runs in 1993. On Dec. 4, 1993, he signed as a free agent with Cleveland. Murray’s career ended in 1997 after a season split between Anaheim and Los Angeles. For 3,026 major league games, he hit .287 with 504 homers, 3,255 hits and 1,917 r.b.i.

Jack Murphy

Jack Murphy (Broadcasting. Born, Trenton, NJ, Mar. 31, 1914; died, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Dec. 24, 1984.) Prior to 1948, there was no local television of baseball in New York as the three teams then active in the City generally agreed not to venture into the new medium. But after the successful telecast of the 1947 World Series by NBC, all three decided to plunge into the televising of games. With three teams offering a full schedule of 77 home games each to television, local stations, then hungry for any type of programming, snapped up the games. WPIX, then the station of the Daily News, purchased rights to both the New York Giants home games in the Polo Grounds and the Yankees games at Yankee Stadium. Jack Murphy came to the forefront as a creative genius with respect to inventive ways to capture these games for the home viewing audience. Taking advantage of the peculiar shape of the Polo Grounds, for instance, he placed cameras behind first base at field level which enabled viewers to look virtually over the first baseman’s shoulder. After the Giants moved to San Francisco for the 1958 season, Murphy concentrated on the Yankees, who by then then were also offering a schedule of their road games on WPIX. While many people now claim credit for what has become the standard baseball camera angle, Murphy first placed a camera in centerfield at Yankee Stadium in 1959 over the objections of general manager George Weiss, who feared opposing teams would watch and steal the catcher’s signs.

Grandma Murphy

Grandma Murphy (Baseball. Born, New York, NY, July 14, 1908; died, New York, NY, Jan. 14, 1970.) From Fordham to general manager of the Mets’ 1969 world champions, John Joseph Murphy earned his greatest fame (and his nickname) as a sterling Yankees reliever in the 1930s. Murphy was signed by Paul Krichell off the Rose Hill campus in 1929. He was 16-13 at St. Paul in 1931 and got a brief look by the Yankees the next year before going to Newark. Murphy came to the Yankees to stay in 1934, when he was 14-10, then 10-5 in 1935. But manager Joe McCarthy kept using him more out of the bullpen. Murphy was 9-3, 13-4, and 8-2 from 1936 to 1938 with numerous saves if there had been such as thing at the time. The Yankees reeled off four straight world championships with this system, shaping future baseball strategy. Murphy went to Boston (where he was 0-0 in 32 games), then retired, becoming director of scouting for the Red Sox until 1961. He joined the expansion Mets front office. Murphy became a Mets vice president in 1964. When Bing Devine returned to St. Louis, Murphy became the general manager Dec. 27, 1967. He had been among those pushing to bring Gil Hodges in as Mets manager. Between them, they helped remake the Mets by adding several players, including Al Weis and Tommy Agee. As a pitcher, Murphy’s lifetime record was 93-53 for 13 seasons (1932, 1934-43, 1946-47). Yankees players called him “Grandma” because he was always tidying up messes left by starting pitchers. As an example, he replaced Lefty Gomez so frequently that when asked how he would do in a game, Gomez often said, “I don’t know. I can’t tell how Murphy’s arm feels.” During World War II, Murphy served in an administrative capacity at Oak Ridge, Tenn., as part of the team developing the atomic bomb.

Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy (Sportswriter. Born, Brooklyn, NY, June 19, 1896; died, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 4, 1965.) During his 53-year career with The Sun, Edward T. Murphy became the first writer to cover the Brooklyn Dodgers for a Manhattan-based paper. Murphy joined The Sun as a copy boy in 1911, working for the morning edition of what was then an all-day paper. He became part of the sports staff four years later and, in 1918, sports editor Joe Vila took him to Ebbets Field, introduced him to the Brooklyn front office, and left. With all games then played in the daytime, writers for the evening papers were the primary news source on baseball. For the next 29 seasons, Murphy wrote for the afternoon editions of The Sun. At the end of the 1946 season, he requested a transfer to the sports copy desk. When asked for his reason, Murphy said, “Night baseball. I do not intend to hang around all day waiting to work at night like a burglar.” He worked with The Sun until 1950, when it was sold to the World-Telegram, and spent 12 years on the desk with the merged paper until retiring in 1962. During his long career, Murphy was the only New York writer traveling with the Dodgers when they played a 26-inning 1-1 tie at Boston May 1, 1920. He covered the game for seven papers besides his own. Considered an excellent official scorer, Murphy was chosen as the New York scorer for the 1942 World Series even though he never covered the Yankees.

Bob Murphy

Bob Murphy (Sportscaster. Born, Tulsa, OK, Sept. 19, 1924; died, West Palm Beach, FL Aug. 3, 2004.) An icon for generations of Mets fans, Robert A. Murphy started calling play-by-play for the team when it entered the N.L. in 1962. Murphy was one of the three original voices of the Mets, along with Lindsay Nelson and Ralph Kiner, who worked together for the first 17 seasons of the Mets’ existence. Murphy and Kiner continued to do both television and radio with new partners after Nelson departed following the 1978 season. (Steve Albert replaced Nelson.) Another major change occurred at the start of the 1982 season, when Kiner became a television-only voice and Murphy was assigned to radio only (with Steve LaMar as his partner). He retired on Sept. 25, 2003, after 42 seasons, when he worked the final Mets home game of the year and was honored with “Bob Murphy Night” pre-game ceremonies. Through it all, Murphy was heard on a half-dozen New York-area stations that have served as Mets flagships, starting with WABC in 1962. Murphy has been heard on WFAN (now 660 AM) since 1987, when WHN (1050) became WFAN. Murphy was in the U.S. Marines during World War II and then went to the U. of Tulsa. He began his baseball career in Tulsa, doing Texas League games in 1947. He moved to Oklahoma City in 1948 and came to the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox in 1954, where he also began regular television work. He spent six seasons in Boston and two more (1960-61) in Baltimore before joining the Mets. Murphy did college football, as well as the Titans (1962) and Jets (1963) of the A.F.L.

Bobby Murcer

Bobby Murcer (Baseball. Born, Oklahoma City, OK, May 20, 1946; died, Oklahoma City, OK, July 12, 2008.) Of his 17 years in the major leagues, Bobby Ray Murcer spent 12 of them with the Yankees but missed the championship seasons of 1976-78. During those years, Murcer was in the N.L. with the Giants (1975-76) and Cubs (1977-79), returning to the Yankees June 26, 1979. He also lost two years (1967-68) to military service during the Vietnam era, though he spent most of that time at Fort Huachuca (Ariz.). Upon his return, his idol, fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle had retired and the Yankees looked to Murcer to play centerfield and carry much of the offensive load. He responded with good, if not Mantle-like, numbers. Murcer led the Yankees three straight years (1971-73) in hits, doubles, homers, batting average, and r.b.i. His best years were 1971, when he hit .331, and 1972, when he had career highs in homers (33) and r.b.i. (96). For Murcer, the Yankees’ move to Shea Stadium in 1974 was a nightmare. His average dropped from .304 to .274 and he didn’t hit a homer at home until September. On Oct. 22, 1974, he was traded to San Francisco for Bobby Bonds. Murcer returned to the Yankees for the final four years of his career, principally as a designated hitter. Overall, he hit .277 for 1,908 big league games with 252 homers. Murcer had a three-homer game June 24, 1970, when he hit four homers in a doubleheader against Cleveland. He also had a three-run homer in the seventh inning and a two-run single in the ninth Aug. 6, 1979, the day of his good friend Thurman Munson’s funeral, as the Yankees rallied to beat Baltimore, 5-4. He began a broadcasting career in 1983 on WABC Radio and later did Yankees games on MSG (1989), WPIX (1990-98), and the YES Network (2002-08).

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

Share Our Blog!

Sort by Last Name


Support n-yhs

Help us support our sports database and other collections.

About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

Submission Form

* (denotes required field)

Disclaimer & Privacy Policy