The heavyset fastballer joined the Reds in mid-1986 and posted a microscopic 0.72 ERA in 34 relief appearances. Murphy became the set-up man for relief ace John Franco in 1987-88, appearing in 163 games over the two seasons, including a NL-high 76 in 1988, averaging nearly a strikeout an inning, but saving only six games. He was traded to the Red Sox with Nick Esasky for Todd Benzinger and Jeff Sellers, and in 1989 he had a career-high nine saves behind Lee Smith in the Boston bullpen.
Murphy began the 1990 season 0-6 with an unusually high ERA, spurring a five-year, six-team tour of the majors. Along the way, he developed an interest in breeding thoroughbreds. By the time the veteran hurler hung up his spikes, his mother had named eight of her horses after the franchises Murphy played for: Cincy Dancer; King of Beantown; Mariner Hawk; Houston Honey; Calling Card; Ninedaznpinstripes; Djones (after Dale Jones, a Dodgers scout); and Molly Kelly — after sweet Molly Malone, who sold cockles, mussels (but no Marlins).
Quirky even by left-handers’ standards, Murphy preferred #19 because it had once won him a jackpot at a roulette table and was known to wear black panties under his uniform. “I believe in all that [superstitious] stuff; four-leaf clovers, black cats,” Murphy once said, “but especially black underwear.”