Johnny Murphy was a 6’ 2” right-hander who pitched for the New York Yankees for 11 seasons during the 1930s and ‘40s. After attending and pitching for Fordham University in his native New York City, Murphy signed as an amateur free agent with the Yankees in 1929. Although he appeared in two games in 1932, it wasn’t until 1934 when Murphy made his mark by starting 20 times on the hill for New York and pitching 10 complete games. For the remaining 11 years of his major league career, which included one season with the arch rival Boston Red Sox, Murphy would start only 20 games more as he became one of the top bullpen specialists of his day.
The Yankee clubs he played on were some of the most powerful teams of all time, winning consecutive World Series championships from 1936 to 1939, and again in 1941 and 1943. Overall, he appeared in 415 games, winning 93, losing 53 (for a .637 winning percentage) with an earned run average of 3.50. He led the American League in wins for a relief pitcher seven times. While the “save” was not yet an official statistic, Murphy led the A.L. four times in that category. In eight World Series games and 16? innings (spread over six different Series), Murphy won two games, lost none, saved four, and posted an ERA of 1.10. In all, Murphy was on seven World Series winning teams, the most of any pitcher in history.
Offered here is Murphy’s first professional uniform player’s contract with the New York Yankees. The amateur free agent signed the document on May 29, 1928, which was for the 1929 season, even though he did not make his MLB on-field debut until May 19, 1932, for the big league ball club. He signed for a salary of $400 per month. The aged contract has been preserved remarkably well as it was framed inside an oversized mat measuring 22” wide by 17” high that shows both sides of the folded contract. Signatures on the contract, besides John Murphy’s, include his father’s, Thomas M. Murphy as witness, along with that of New York Yankees President Jacob Ruppert and Yankees’ Secretary, E.G. Barrow.
Related agreement documentation is also part of this lot which includes a signed, type-written letter from Barrow to Mr. John J. Murphy (dated May 31st, 1928) in which Barrow sent a check to Murphy for $600 (not included). Barrow asks that Murphy to “kindly acknowledge receipt of check.” A second piece of documentation related to Murphy’s eventual hire by the New York Yankees is a signed, type-written letter of consent from Murphy, dated Oct. 8, 1926 and co-signed by his father, in which he accepts the Yankees offer of a salary starting at $400 per month. Murphy includes: “I am also willing to be placed with any minor league club that the New York club may designate, provided my salary will be the same as above.” Attached to the original agreement/letter of consent is the business card of then-Yankees Scout Paul Krichell.
Includes Letter of Provenance from the Murphy Family.
Autographs pre-certified by PSA/DNA.