Born in 1894 in Rhode Island, Murphy had sports in her blood. Her father was a semi-professional baseball player. As a child, Murphy played a variety of sports, but baseball was where she excelled. At first, Murphy was excluded from the local youth team because of her gender, but eventually persuaded the boys to allow her to be a bat girl and later to play first base.
By the time Murphy was 13, she had quit school to work in a factory. Murphy continued to play baseball and when she was 15, she was playing for local, semi-pro teams.
"I about decided that baseball wasn't a game for a girl and that I'd quit," Murphy said later in life, reflecting on her career. "But then I went to watch one of the games and got so excited I couldn't stay out. When I see a batter swinging wild or stepping back from the ball it makes me crazy to take a turn at the plate and line one out."
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