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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

How a $7K laptop got on a ‘90 baseball card

In 1990, Murphy—then with the Red Sox—had become renowned for his work on the PC. He adopted one of the earliest personal digital assistants on the market, kept it in his jacket pocket in the bullpen and used it to input information on every batter he faced. It may seem simple now when players have tablets with video footage of every plate appearance available in the dugout, but this was pretty much unheard of for a Major Leaguer at the time.

“I was able to track the hitter, the team, left, right or switch,” Murphy said. “And I was able to put all the at-bats in—whether it was a key situation or not, the first pitch—if they swing or not—what the first pitch was, what the action pitch was, what the result was and how I felt that day. Because some days a guy would get a hit off me and let’s say my fastball felt like a seven on a one-to-10 [scale]. Well, if I’m out there two nights later, and I feel like a 10, I’m not afraid to use my fastball.”

That got the attention of an editor at the now defunct “PC Laptop Computers Magazine,” who wanted to do a feature on Murphy as one of their “Laptop People.” So, when the Red Sox were in Anaheim to play the Angels—near the magazine’s Los Angeles offices—he arranged to do the interview. Even better, with the upcoming publicity, he was able to get a new-fangled laptop he had his eyes on for free.

“It had eight color grayscale screen, had a processor that was like 4.75 hertz—it wasn’t megahertz or gigahertz,” Murphy says with a laugh. “And you had 20 megabytes, or maybe it was 40 megabytes of hard disk space. $5,000 machine, right? That’s what those things cost back in the day. Did I tell you it weighed 20 pounds? Oh my god, it was like lugging around a gold brick.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 16, 2021 at 10:20 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball cards

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 16, 2021 at 02:23 PM (#6024564)
Those Red Sox teams between the 1986 World Series team and the Pedro years starting in 1998 (which really is where the current generation of the Red Sox franchise begins), are largely forgotten by the fan base now, because so much as happened in the last 23 years to the franchise. But they had a bunch of interesting guys with interesting stories or careers.

It was a challenge trade that brought Murphy to Boston, basically: the Red Sox traded a young 1B and a young pitcher for the same thing. Todd Benzinger and Jeff SEllers for Nick Esasky and Rob Murphy.

Sellers never pitched in the majors again after the trade, and Benzinger was a good glove, no hit 1B who stuck around a while.

Meanwhile, the year after the trade, it looked like the Red Sox had pulled off a real steal: Murphy was awesome for the Red Sox in over 100 innings of relief, and Esasky was a beast (30 HRs, 100 RBI, .500 slugging). But in 1990, Murphy was stunningly bad (more than two runners per innings, ERA above 6), and Esasky got vertigo and played nine games the rest of his career. But Murphy was known at the time as a very, very cerebral guy, and Esasky was known as a popular player in the clubhouse, and a very good hitter.
   2. Darren Posted: June 16, 2021 at 04:57 PM (#6024603)
And yet, it was still a steal because of how little Benzinger and Sellers contributed after the trade-- -3.8 WAR combined!
   3. smileyy Posted: June 17, 2021 at 12:01 AM (#6024683)
I was a young Cincinnati Reds fan and I remember trying to convince myself that he was a good player. At least he caught the final out of the 1990 World Series!
   4. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: June 17, 2021 at 04:35 PM (#6024825)
When I read the title, I was confused, thinking the article was about a $7,000 baseball card somehow wedged into a computer, like somebody shoved it into a disk drive!

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