Longtime Bronx resident, Rangers equipment manager dies

Joseph Murphy celebrates his 80th birthday with a new Rangers jersey at a party his granddaughter Jacqueline threw for him.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Hession

A lifelong Throggs Neck resident, former New York Rangers equipment manager and member of the Knights of Columbus for almost 50 years has passed away.

Joseph ‘Babe’ Murphy, a favorite amongst the Throggs Neck and the hockey communities, passed away on Saturday, March 28 in Middletown, NY. He was 82 years old.

Murphy, who was born in 1933. He held a job at PJ Murphy’s, a family-owned restaurant in downtown Manhattan while working his way up to equipment manager for the Rangers in 1978.

In his first season as equipment manager, the Rangers made the Stanley Cup Finals but lost to the Montreal Canadiens.

However, Murphy and the Rangers would get another chance to win the Stanley Cup 15 years later in 1994 when they faced the Vancouver Canucks in the finals.

In a classic seven game series, the Rangers beat the Canucks, giving them their first Stanley Cup Championship in 54 years. A memorable ticker tape parade then followed on June 17.

That summer. after the championship, Murphy took the Stanley Cup trophy back to Throggs Neck.

He brought the trophy with him up and down East Tremont Avenue, stopping in every bar and restaurant along the way.

Afterwards, he went back to his house on Vincent Avenue and placed the trophy in his front yard for neighbors to visit.

“He knew so many people in the neighborhood,” said Mary Tyrell, Joseph’s neice. “He wanted to share the happy moment of winning the Stanley Cup (Championship) with everybody.”

Murphy experienced arguably the highest and lowest moment of his life all in one year.

The very next season, while the Rangers were on their way to the White House to be honored by President Clinton for their championship victory, Joe learned that his son, Joseph Patrick Murphy, Jr., had been killed in a tragic car accident.

Joseph Murphy (l) poses with his brother John ‘Jack’ Murphy and the Stanley Cup trophy in front of his Vincent Avenue home in the summer of 1994.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Hession

Murphy was unable to attend the ceremony or the White House reception, but Ranger team captain Mark Messier, addressed the situation and sent condolences from the Rangers to the Murphy family.

Joseph stayed the Rangers equipment manager until he retired in 1997, which meant he was around to see Messier team up with another hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky.

In his 18 years as equipment manager, he also worked with the USA National Hockey Team in 1988 and the 1994 NHL All-Star Game, which was held in New York.

On Saturday, March 28, the Rangers tweeted: “Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Joseph Murphy, a long time #NYR equipment manager and member of the 1994 Stanley Cup Championship staff.”

Murphy was also a member of the Knights of Columbus for 48 years. He also volunteered at St. Benedict’s Church for many years.

Despite all of his lifetime accomplishments, Murphy always stayed the same person – a generous man who wanted to help others, according to family and friends who knew him best.

“He cared about his neighborhood and the people in it,” said Patricia Haeberle, Joseph’s daughter. “He had a desire to help others and didn’t look for anything in return – that’s why everybody loved him.”

“I was lucky to know Joseph Murphy for over 35 years,” said longtime friend Lisa Hession. “He always had a smile and a kind word, and always lent a helping hand. Family, faith, friendship and the New York Rangers were what mattered most to him and he will be sorely missed by everyone whose paths he crossed and lives he touched.”

Mark Messier and Brian Leetch attended his wake on Monday, March 30 and Tuesday, March 31 at Schuyler Hill Funeral Home. Former Rangers’ goalie Mike Richter attended the funeral service, which was on Wednesday, April 1 at St. Benedict’s Church. He was buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, NY.

Murphy is survived by his daughter Patricia, his granddaughters Jacqueline Murphy and Kristen Haeberle as well as many nieces and nephews.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 742–3384. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.
Joseph Murphy passed away on Saturday, March 28 at the age of 82.
Photo courtesy of the Murphy family

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