Murphy began as a baseball writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, then went to the New York Giants as a publicist. When he heard the Chicago NL club was for sale, he got backing from Charles Taft of Cincinnati and bought it. His teams won four pennants and the World Series in 1907 and 1908. His style antagonized the more conservative NL owners, and when John Tener became NL president, Murphy was urged to dispose of his team, the most profitable of the time. He sold out to Charles Weeghman as part of the settlement of the Federal League war.