Scott Murray recently met up with Murray Eldon at the GetFresh franchise at Bumrungrad Hospital. Murray and his wife were in Thailand for a medical consultancy and to visit his step-son Steven Prussky who lives in Chiang Mai and runs AWARE, the technology company.

Murray was the Toronto Blue Jays P.A. announcer from 1978 until 2004, working games at Exhibition Stadium and SkyDome, but there was a little bit of controversy when he left. Bob Elliott, in the Toronto Sun on May 26, 2012, wrote “Eldon was upset he didn’t get a World Series ring in either 1992 or 1993. The Jays made the decision that they were not giving rings to part-time employees.”

Many Jays fans were also upset that Murray did not receive a World Series ring as evidenced by Toronto Mike’s comments on March 15, 2005, “I've never attended a Blue Jays game without hearing Eldon's sweet voice announcing the batters. If I close my eyes, I can still hear his signature deliveries for Damaso Garcia, Willie Upshaw, Alfredo Griffin, Tony Fernandez and Jesse Barfield. In the 90s, you knew you were home when he announced Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor and John Olerud. As much as Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth represent the sound of Blue Jays baseball on the radio, Eldon is the sound of Blue Jays baseball at the old Exhibition Stadium and Skydome.”

Justice was done though, Elliott later reported in the Sun. “After Eldon was let go in 2005, then CEO Paul Godfrey arranged for George Bell and Gaston to present him with a 1993 Series ring at first base in a pre-game ceremony. Besides working for CKFM from 1979-88, plus working in marketing and intellectual properties for Wi-Lan Inc., Eldon was in his booth each and every home game -- missing only five during his tenure.”

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Murray grew up on a farm close to Mount Forest, 100km northwest of Toronto. Even though he drove his first tractor at age seven, he hated farming. As soon as he was out of a high school, told he had a good voice for radio he sought out work in that field, “I had the perfect face for it”, he quips. “My first job in radio was driving a car for the engineer at CFOS in Owen Sound. Then, I got my first on-air job in Midland, running records and doing the evening radio show and newscasts. I moved to Barrie a few years later as a TV reporter.

“In 1970, I moved to CHUM radio and then a few jobs later I ended up at Foster Hewitt’s radio station CKFH in 1976 doing the afternoon news run from 12-6pm, while Bob McCown (whose father was a minor-league baseball player) did the sports.”

CKFH had the original rights to broadcast Jays games in 1977 with Tom Cheek doing the play-by-play and Early Wynn the commentary. McCown was the first Jays P.A. announcer in that inaugural year and Murray assisted him.

Recalling McCown, Murray says “I never met anyone with a greater sense of their own value. But he didn’t like doing the after-game interviews, but if I did them and passed the information on to him, I would get a free dinner.”

In 1978, Howard Starkman, then the Jays VP of Media Relations, asked Murray if he wanted the job as the P.A. announcer as McCown, who was making CAN$25 a game in 1977, wanted his salary quadrupled. Murray, who had filled in for McCown a dozen times the previous year during the Canadian National Exhibition, agreed but said he wanted a CAN$5 raise, so his salary started at CAN$30 a game and went up incrementally over the years.

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Going in Murray admits he didn’t know much about baseball. So, he took a crash course – watching and learning that first year and helping out McCown the best he could. “I enjoyed being there; I enjoyed the people, the atmosphere, the ballpark.”

In the early days, he felt like an orchestra conductor as the scoreboard was basic and he had to watch the umpires carefully to know what was happening next. His job was to introduce each player as they came to bat as well as the opening lineups. He used to joke that he had to introduce the players so they didn’t all come to bat at the same time.

Bob Sheppard, the longtime New York Yankees P.A. announcer, told Murray with a crowd who doesn’t know when to cheer, his job was to help get people excited about who was coming to bat.

Murray (seen in photo below with Blue Jay Rick Bossetti) was eventually replaced by Tim Langton, an announcer with the All Sports channel, who sat beside Murray playing music for five years at the Skydome. Tim still holds that job today.

In the end, Murray says “I got bored with it, they got bored with me”. When he first left baseball Murray worked for another company Trivision which manufactured parental-controlled TV sets.

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But a few years after retiring from announcing Murray went back to the Skydome to work as an usher in the VIP section. During that time, he had countless request to have his photo taken with spectators as he wore his World Series championship ring every game.

Who was his favorite player? “Rico Carty, one of the first players to come out of the Dominican Republic; he understood people and baseball. Rico, John Mayberry and I used to go for a beer after the games and discuss baseball.”

Fondest memories? “In the second World Series game in Atlanta, the US Marines ran the Canadian flag up backwards. I read the apology in game three, the first World Series game to be held outside the United States, and that received a lot of air play, especially on CNN. My favourite singer, Anne Murray, happened to sing the anthems in that game. In 1991, I also got to work the only all-star game ever played in Toronto with Joe Garagiola.

Best players? “Dave Stieb was probably the best pitcher I saw on anybody’s team. Had he played for any other team, he probably would have had a dozen no-hitters as he lost so many of those in the ninth inning. He pitched fast and mean. He was a dreadful human being when he was playing, but when he retired, he realized he didn’t need that mean energy anymore, and became the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet.

“Roberto Alomar could move in the infield like no one I’ve ever seen before or since; he could jump in the air, catch the ball and do a 180 degree turn and throw the ball to first base before he even landed.”


Other noteworthy Canadian sports celebrities that Murray dealt with included Foster Hewitt. “He had an encyclopedic memory,” Murray recalls, “he could remember play-by-play commentary from games he called 20 years ago.” He once interviewed Harold Ballard in his dark and dinghy room full of statues in Maple Leaf Gardens. “I asked him a question about a management move that was in the news at the time. He responded with ‘if you want to manage a team, buy one’”.

Murray and his wife Brenda have been married for 39 years and today he works part-time as a concierge at a high-end condo in Toronto. He does try to get to at least one Jays game every year.

Murray’s legacy: 27 years, 2,300 games, 63 million people. Not bad for a guy who didn’t know much about baseball.

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