The “10 questions with…” series here at The Bell is one in which I interview various individuals with some direct link to the Philadelphia Phillies or who have some other interesting baseball connection.
The interviews take place in a Q&A format where I ask each participant 10 questions (I cheat once in awhile with a multi-parter) involving their lives and career. I also delve into their history with the ball club and the game, and try to gain their insight on the current Phillies team.
Links to prior installments in the series can be found in the drop-down box at the “Phillies” section of the mattveasey.com website toolbar.
Our next interviewee is well-known to fans of local Phillies television broadcasts. Gregg Murphy (or as he is affectionately known, ‘Murph’) was a member of the club’s official broadcast team from 2012 through this past season. His primary role was to bring fans reports from various locations throughout Citizens Bank Park and road ballparks as games progressed. He would also occasionally jump in to help out with play-by-play responsibilities.
As most Philly fans are already aware, NBC Sports Philadelphia, which broadcasts most games involving the four major sports in town, has let go of a number of popular longtime on-air personalities over the last couple of years. This past summer, that purge caught up with Murph, and this past 2020 campaign was his last with the Phillies at this point.
Rob Tornoe at the Inquirer quoted Murph at the time of the announcement: “First and foremost, I’m disappointed in the news, but it’s a tough time for everyone and I understand why this is happening. I am unbelievably grateful for the time I’ve had at NBC over the last 20 years — nine and a half with the Phillies’ broadcast team.“
In this edition of “10 Questions With…“, Murph talks about his background and career, including where he may be going from here. And, of course, we get his opinion regarding a couple of key issues involving the current ball club as well. Sprinkled in are a few videos, starting with this from 2013 in which you get the answers to a few more Murph questions as posed by an aspiring young journalist at that time.
10 Questions: GREGG MURPHY
Q1: Murph, thanks for taking part in this series. Let’s start with a little personal background. Do I understand correctly that you were born and raised a Jersey guy? Can you fill us in a bit on exactly where you were born and raised, went to high school, and did your interest in sports/journalism come to you young? Also, I know you are a ‘Hawk’ – did you study journalism at Saint Joe’s, and have an influences from those days that stand out? And now – married, kids?
GM: I was actually born in Meadowbrook, PA at Holy Redeemer hospital, but moved over to South Jersey when I was about five and have been here ever since. I was mostly raised in Mt. Laurel, NJ and went to Holy Cross High School in Delran. I was an athlete for most of my life through high school, and my love for sports and performing kind of led me towards a career in sportscasting. I was an English major at Saint Joseph’s University, but as a freshman began broadcasting basketball games on the radio for the Hawks. That’s how things got started for me.
Q2. Your Wiki bio reads “Murphy spent two years as co-host and reporter for “The Inquirer High School Sports Show” alongside Joe Briscella.” Also stating “Murphy also produced and hosted “A Piece of the Game”, a weekly sports memorabilia show that aired on Sports Channel.” Can you tell a little about those gigs? Were they your first jobs in sports?
GM: My first professional sports job came about a year out of college. I was hired to help produce a home shopping sports memorabilia show called “A Piece of the Game”. I would say within a year of graduating, I was offered the chance to co-host the program on SportsChannel. I also began selling sports memorabilia on HSN and QVC. From there, I moved to WFMZ Channel 69 in Allentown/Reading as the weekday sports reporter/anchor. After about two-and-a-half years, I returned to Philadelphia to host the “Inquirer High School Sports Show” on Fox Philadelphia.
(VIDEO: A look back at the start of 69 News including a segment with Murph)
Q3: Pretty sure that I first remember seeing you at CN8. When did you start there, how long did you stay, and what were some of your assignments over the years?
GM: After my stint at the “Inquirer High School Sports Show“, I was hired as a producer for the new network – CN8. The two main sportscasters at the network were Lou Tilly and Bruce Casella. I was working as a sports producer at CN8 on Sept 11th, 2001. Obviously, that morning we went into high gear as a news organization. The news director, knowing I’d done on-air work before, sent me to Shanksville, PA to cover the aftermath of Flight 93. For the next week and a half, I worked as an on-air news reporter. When the world transitioned back to sports, Lou and Bruce began using me as on-air sports talent as well. I spent the next seven years at CN8, ultimately ending as the mains sports talent and host of “Out of Bounds“.
Q4: Philly sports fans are going to remember your work at Comcast and then NBC Sports Philadelphia. When and how did you land the Comcast gig, and can you relate any early people as influences there?
GM: After the 2008 World Series, CN8 announced they were closing their doors and I was transferred over to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. One of the best parts of the experience was being re-connected with Neil Hartman. Neil had been my intern advisor while he was with Channel 17 and I was a student at Saint Joe’s. He gave me my first opportunities to cover Phillies baseball. Now, 15 years later, I was lucky enough to sit next to him in the anchor chair. There were so many talented folks at CSN at the time, and I’d like to think they all had an influence on me at some level.
Q5: I believe it was 2012 when you began full-time as a member of the Phillies broadcast team, particularly doing the fan interactions and reports from around the layouts of various ballparks. How did that particular role come about? Was it something that was designed from the start or that evolved over time?
GM: In February of 2012 my news director, Michelle Murray at CSN, called and asked me if I’d come in for a meeting during my day off. In that meeting, Michelle, Shawn Oleksiak (VP of Live Events), and Brian Monihan (General Manager) asked if I’d be interested in joining the Phillies broadcast team as the on-field reporter. Two and a half weeks later, I was in Clearwater, Florida. The role was one previously held by Tom McCarthy. After a few years of having no-one they decided to add the role back into the broadcast.
Q6: You’re widely known as a “nice guy”, so I’m sure that you would say everyone you worked with was the same. But was anyone in particular from your work in broadcasting Phillies games particularly influential in your development in that role, whether they are/were in front of or behind the cameras?
GM: You’re right when you say everyone I worked with from on-air talent to our crew had some influence on me. But two people in particular stand out. The first, our producer Jeff Halikman. It was really his vision for the field reporter’s role that I tried to put into practice every day. Jeff is incredibly creative and always willing to try something new to make the broadcasts more entertaining. Together, I think we were able to do just that. I can’t tell you how many times Jeff suggested an idea that I was wary of, but ultimately it turned out to be broadcast gold! The other is Tom McCarthy. Tom is an exceptional talent and has the ability to raise up everyone around him. I was extremely proud to work alongside him, and proud of the on-air chemistry we developed. He taught me so much over the nine seasons, and we had a blast doing it.
Q7: Let’s do a couple now on the team and the players. Give me one Phillies player or coach who might not be as familiar to fans, but who was a guy that stands out in your memory as having been especially interesting and informative as an interview subject over the years. Did you have any players who were particular favorites with whom you loved to interact?
GM: Again, so many names that could be mentioned – Larry Bowa has always been such a great source of baseball knowledge. He’s one that stands out for sure. As far as players go – I have a lot of favorites, but in terms of guys that I enjoy being around, Jeff Francoeur was one of the best. We still have a chance to catch up when the Phillies and the Braves play. They are just two of many guys I’ve enjoyed covering over the years.
Q8: The biggest question right now on most Phillies fans minds is the Realmuto situation. Of course, the team wants to bring him back if possible. But give me your best sense from having been around the team this year, do they re-sign JT to a long term deal this off-season?
GM: All I can say about the J.T. Realmuto situation is this – I know the Phillies want him back. And why wouldn’t they? Whether or not a deal gets done is anyone’s guess. There are a lot more factors in play than simply the Phillies willingness to sign him. That said, JT was an absolute pro and as a Phillies Phan, I’d sure love to see him back in our uniform.
Q9: The Phillies brought two highly rated prospects to the big-leagues this year in Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard. While Bohm showed right away that he belonged, Howard struggled. Any sense of why that might have been for the young pitcher? Just not quite ready? Physical issues? Do you still see him as a potential frontline starter? What was your opinion on Bohm.
GM: 2020 was an interesting year for a million different reasons, but from a baseball standpoint, Alec Bohm was an awesome development. From the moment he arrived in Philadelphia it was clear that no moment was too big for him. I think Phillies Phans are going to enjoy watching him for many years to come. As far as Spencer Howard is concerned, I think the preparation for the year 2020 was difficult for young pitchers. He never really seemed to hit his stride. But in talking with baseball folks that I respect, Howard still projects as an outstanding Major League starter.
Q10: Last one, so…where from here? Do you have any professional irons in the fire that you can share? Would you be interested in play-by-play work, or looking to stay in more of a host-reporter role? And is it only baseball, or will you be looking at other news or sports opportunities?
GM: Ahhh…the mission dollar question! At this point I have a few irons in the fire that I hope I can talk about in the next few months. My ultimate goal is to stay right here in Philadelphia, covering the teams that I grew up cheering for. But I am very interested in play-by-play and other opportunities in Major League Baseball. And who knows, maybe even popping up on the Travel Channel or HGTV! But at the end of the day, my heart is with Philadelphia and baseball. Who knows what will happen?