The best walk-off reaction you'll ever see

Mariners catcher Tom Murphy takes excitement to a new level

June 1st, 2021

SEATTLE -- It started last Tuesday, when Kyle Seager told a struggling that he was playing too seriously and ought to let loose a little. So, in the fourth inning of that game, when the Mariners’ backstop scored on a single by Jarred Kelenic, he unveiled the bonkers new-look facial expression that he’s since sported after any positive moment at the plate.

That look reached viral status on Monday, when Murphy’s sacrifice fly walked the Mariners off in a 6-5 victory over the A’s at T-Mobile Park. It’s become a familiar facial expression to his teammates, but for the social media world, it took off.

As Murphy approached first base on the sky-high ball to right field, he turned to Seattle’s dugout and unleashed his most animated version of the expression yet.

“I think we can all agree I take this game pretty seriously. I'm a pretty serious person most of the time,” Murphy said. “So, this is kind of my over-exaggeration of my smile face. The guys are loving it right now. It gets a good laugh, keeps things light. I’m going to roll with it until it kind of wears itself out. But yeah, everybody loves it and they anticipate it now, so it's good clubhouse morale, for sure.”

Immediately after the win, the Mariners’ social media team pounced by tweeting out a screengrab of Murphy’s reaction, saying that it would change its profile picture if it had circulated past the 2,000 RT threshold. That was at 5:32 p.m. PT.

In under 30 minutes, it had spread like wildfire and soared past that mark. The Mariners’ official Twitter now has Murphy’s reaction plastered all over its account.

Beyond the thumbs up from the fans, how is Murphy’s look resonating in the dugout?

“I guess it's his thing. I try to stay out of his way,” joked Logan Gilbert, who threw a career-high six innings on Monday. “He's an awesome guy. He scares me sometimes. I don't know, but he's cool, and just having that presence around, he's really helped me learn the ropes a little bit quicker. So, it's cool to see him excited and have a big moment like that.”

“Everybody's scared of it,” said infielder Donovan Walton with a chuckle. “I think it's hilarious. But no, that's just Murph. He makes everybody laugh and keeps the team loose. … I was so happy for him to make that happen and have that walk-off. I was afraid I was going to catch a punch in the face or an elbow trying to rip his jersey off. But no, it couldn't happen to a better guy.”

It’s been an incredibly tough season at the plate for Seattle’s 30-year-old backstop, who is hitting .165/.219/.361 through the first two months of the season. Those struggles put the veteran in a mental rut to the point where he recently had a chat with manager Scott Servais, who encouraged him to stop seeking results and focus more on the positive attitude that has made him such a staple in Seattle’s clubhouse.

Over his past seven games dating back to May 22, Murphy is hitting .333/.381/.611 (.992 OPS). He says that his new look is probably only a temporary thing, one that will probably fade once it becomes tired.

But if he keeps hitting the way he has of late, maybe it’ll be here to stay for good.

“That’s his happy face, if there is one from Murph,” Servais said. “He's as intense as they come. Our guys love him. And the thing about Murph, too, is he is one of those guys with a louder voice in our clubhouse. He will say the crazy things. He will call somebody out, say a lot of things in jest. And in the clubhouse, there's a lot of truth said in jest. So, he's one of those guys that it's nice to see him come through in that spot. Obviously, off to a rough start early in the year, but it's really picked it up here the last couple weeks.”