Jeremiah “Miah” Murray appeared in only 34 major league games, with four teams between 1884 and 1891. In 31 games a catcher, he made 29 errors and was charged with 28 passed balls.
During that short career, he also became the subject of two stories which highlighted his shortcomings behind the plate. Both stories appeared after the fact, so are subject to the usual caveats of 19th-century baseball stories.
In 1894 The New York Sun wrote about the most embarrassing episode Murray’s career—said to have taken place during his rookie season, 1884:
“(Murray) tells about a game he once caught in at Buffalo when he was a member of the Providence team. There were three men on bases and he threw to (Jerry) Denny to catch a man napping, but the ball never got there. It hit Jim O’Rourke, who was the batsman, on the side of the head and bounded into the grandstand, three men scoring and winning the game for Buffalo. Jim staggered and cried out with pain, but the crowd simply cried with glee, O’Rourke’s hurt being entirely lost sight of in the enthusiasm.”
Murray’s manager during that 1884 season was Frank Bancroft who led Providence to the National League championship and a three games to zero victory over the New York Metropolitans of the American Association earning for the first time the title “World Champions” from The Sporting Life.
Bancroft compiled a 375-333 record over parts of nine seasons as a big league manager, before becoming an executive with the Cincinnati Reds.
It was while serving as the Reds’ Business Manager that Bancroft related another story about Murray’s brief time with Bancroft’s championship team. The story first appeared in The New York American in 1915:
“’Take it from me,’ said Frank Bancroft, while some of the fans were discussing famous bonehead plays, ‘the old timers pulled some bones that had all you youngsters blocked off the map. Best I recollect, right now, was sprung by Miah Murray when he was catching for me…With a runner on first Miah steamed back to the stand a made a magnificent catch of a foul fly. The crowd broke into roars of applause; Murray, leaning against the stand, took off his cap and bowed right and left—and the runner, sizing up the situation, lit out from first, kept right on going, and came all the way around while Miah kept bowing and the rest of the team were screeching and raving, all in vain.”
Murray later became a National League and college umpire; he was also a prominent boxing promoter and matchmaker in Boston where he operated the Lincoln Athletic Club of Chelsea, and later the Armory Athletic Club. He died in Boston in 1922 at age 57.
Bancroft retired as business manager of the Reds in January of 1921; he died two months later at age 74.