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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  •  Local History: 'Honest Eddie' Murphy, Major League Ballplayer

  • Marries Hawley girl, plays in 3 World Series
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  • (PART ONE) HAWLEY - There was a time when it was well known that a major league baseball player won the heart of a Hawley girl, married her and after a stellar baseball career and life journey, both were laid to rest at the Queen of Peace Cemetery in Hawley.
    He was John Edward Murphy, better known as Eddie Murphy and by his nickname "Honest Eddie." She was Mary Alice Richardson, well known in Hawley, who was musically gifted and the pleasant voice at the Bell Telephone Exchange whenever a call was made.
    Raised in White Mills, Murphy's illustrious baseball career was followed in close detail in the local press, and his national success was celebrated by fans of the game when local baseball rivalry was at fever pitch.
    He and Mary would travel far in pursuit of the small white sphere, yet would not forget their roots. They visited their home turf often. In downtown Hawley to this day there may even be his mark, an enigmatic autograph left on a brick wall of a Main Avenue landmark.
    Baseball career
    Murphy played outfield for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1912 to 1915. He was a member of the World Championship team in 1912 beating the New York Giants and losing the 1914 Series to the Boston Braves. He played in nine of those Series' games with eight hits. In mid-season of 1915, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox where he played until 1921.
    In 1919, Murphy appeared in 30 games and hit for a .486 batting average.
    He was also a member of the 1919 White Sox team that lost lost to the Cincinnati Reds. He played in three of those games and had two plate appearances striking out in one of them.
    Murphy achieved the nickname. "Honest Eddie Murphy" during the Black Box Scandal in 1919. Eight members of the White Sox were banned from Major League Baseball, accused of fixing the Series. Murphy was not one of them. As a result, he became known as "Honest Eddie."
    Murphy ended his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1926. In 11 years, he had 680 hits, 111 stolen bases, and a .287 life-time batting average.
    Raised in White Mills
    Born in Hancock, New York on October 2, 1891, Murphy was raised in White Mills where his parents operated a hotel. His parents were Charles and Theresa Fitzsimmons Murphy. His siblings were Frank, Charles, Maria, Anna and Helen. The hotel was located just across the road from the presently closed Chroma Tube factory, on Park Street, White Mills.
    The hotel is long gone, but the ball field behind it has continued for over a century, the site of untold number of games. It was here that young Eddie Murphy learned to play ball. He was a catcher for the White Mills team in 1907, and a catcher-first baseman for the Honesdale town team for three years, starting in 1909. Less than three years after playing for Honesdale, he became the regular right fielder and lead-off batter for the Philadelphia Athletics, led by Connie Mack.
    Page 2 of 3 - After the 1913 World Series, Eddie was presented with a regulation sized bat made of glass, produced at the Dorflinger Glass Works in White Mills. It was given to him by Governor John K. Tener on behalf of a grateful community. This unique bat is today displayed at Corning Glass Museum in Corning, NY.
    Mary Richardson
    Information hasn't been located on how Eddie met his bride-to-be, who was born and raised in Hawley.
    There was an active Hawley baseball team, which had their home games on the north end of what later became Bingham Park, where once canal boats were tried to dock and baseball triumphs are pursued to this day. It certainly is a probability that Mary A. Richardson may have had an interest in the sport, and might have seen handsome Eddie when his team played in Hawley.
    Mary was born in February 1893 to Edward J. and Mary G. Richardson. Mary, the younger, was the oldest of seven children. Next in order were Helen, Bessie, William, Edward, Catherine and John. They lived at 406 Church Street, not far from Main Avenue.
    Her father was born about 1862 in or near Hawley. He worked as a store clerk and later had a bottling business. His younger brother Luke also was a bottler, on Shade Street in Marble Hill. A third bottler in the area was William B. Langan, whose operation was in Cromwelltown.
    The 1912 Hawley directory lists Mary A. Richardson, working for Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania. The phone exchange was located on the second floor of the 1st National Bank, known today as the former Torte Knox, at Main and Keystone Street. Her sister Bessie later worked as a phone operator there.
    Before daybreak
    Eddie and Mary were married on Tuesday, February 28, 1917, at St. Philomena's Catholic Church in Hawley, now known as Queen of Peace. The ceremony was scheduled for 5:40 a.m. Yes, 5:40 in the morning- before the sun rose on this winter day.
    Abram M. Skier was the Hawley columnist for the Wayne County Citizen, and reported on the wedding. Rev. Henry B. Burke performed the ceremony and they were attended by A.J. Murray of Dunmore an Mary's sister Helen, of Hawley.
    The bride was attired in a "becoming travel suit of blue serge." The newlyweds left that morning for Buffalo, New York- they may well have needed to catch the early Erie train from the Hawley station, which connected with the rail line in Scranton.
    From Buffalo they were leaving for Mineral Springs, Texas, where the groom was reporting to the Chicago American Baseball Club for training.
    Mary was described in the article as well known in Hawley due to her work as a telephone operator. "Her pleasing personality and affable disposition has won for her here a wide circle of friends," Skier wrote.
    Page 3 of 3 - The same issue contained a story with (regrettably) only Eddie's picture, and a headline, "Eddie Murphy Makes a Home Run." The unnamed writer referred not to Murphy's spectacular baseball record but to his marriage to Mary Richardson.
    The writer applies a nickname to Eddie Murphy. "What the Wayne County Wonder will do next is difficult to tell. Having won as his bride a lady of excellent accomplishments, considerable musical ability and a winning manner, there is little doubt that the former Honesdale star will play a better game than ever.
    "Eddie Murphy had made the first home run of the season. He always did think a lot of home- that is why he came back to Honesdale so often... Cupid, who acted as umpire in the game, said yesterday that 'Eddie' made the best hit of the season.
    "Folks down in Hawley agree with the umpire- the first case on record where there has been perfect agreement in this respect."
    The article discusses his baseball career and states that the Chicago White Sox paid $7,500 for three years to let him play.
    [NEXT WEEK: Did Honest Eddie leave us his autograph?]
    Sources:
    Wayne County Sports History 1871-1972 by Keith Sutton
    Wayne County Citizen files kept by the Wallenpaupack Historical Society
    Thanks to Joseph Iozzi for use of pictures from honesteddiemurphy.com
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