Relievers are sometimes called firemen because, well, they put out fires, "relieving" the starters they replace on the mound by getting out of jams. This didn't come from nowhere, however, because it was actually the nickname of one of the first modern-day relievers baseball ever saw, Johnny "Fireman" Murphy. So, let's talk about him!
When I started blogging about baseball history eight years ago, my grandfather, who grew up in the Bronx, told me about how he used to work in a store near Yankee Stadium. Sometimes, members of the Yankees would come in to shop in the store and one of the Yanks that visited often was Johnny Murphy. I had never heard of him, so I did some research and found out some very interesting stuff on him. Murphy was not a Hall of Fame closer, but he was one of the first closers in MLB history. From 1937-1942, Murphy led the league in saves in four out of six years, making All Star Games in the first three years of that span. His highest saves total came in 1939, when he had 19 of them, which was the second-highest amount of single-season saves at the time. Murphy collected 107 saves during his 13-year career in the 30's and 40's (with some of those years eaten up by military service during World War II), which was actually a record that stood all the way until 1961, the same year he joined the front office of the newest MLB expansion team, the New York Mets.
That's right, Mets fans. Your 1969 Miracle Mets team was built up by one of baseball's first relievers. Murphy, along with former Yankee executive George Weiss, helped construct the Mets farm system throughout the 60's that would eventually sprout great names like Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, and Jerry Koosman. Murphy was also responsible for the trade that brought legendary manager and should-be Hall of Famer Gil Hodges to the Amazins', a move that helped the Mets win an improbable World Series title in 1969. Sadly, "Fireman" died of a heart attack three months after the team from Flushing won their first Fall Classic. Had he lived, who knows how good the Mets could've been.
Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."