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Conversations with Clayton: Mike Murphy, Creator of “Grandma’s Scorebook”

This will be your new favorite website

MLB: JUL 29 Angels at Blue Jays

In this week’s edition of Conversations with Clayton, I had the distinct pleasure of talking with Mike Murphy, the creator of Grandma’s Scorebook, your new favorite website.

For nearly 20 years, Mike’s grandma, Minnie Lee Olges, listened to her Cincinnati Reds on the radio every night and kept score in her own unique manner. Mike has created a beautiful website which displays her hand-scored games and her commentary on the events of each game.

I’ve never come across something that gets to the heart of the everyday life of a fan as much as Grandma’s Scorebook does.

In this wide-ranging discussion, we discuss the website, the joys of LaRosa’s Pizzeria, and the hazards of being a visiting fan at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium.

Clayton Trutor (CT): For the uninitiated, what is Grandma’s Scorebook?

Mike Murphy (MM): My grandma, Minnie Lee Olges, loved Major League Baseball and the Cincinnati Reds. She kept score using her handmade scorecards while listening to the Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall on her radio for 19 seasons, 1973-91. She kept score for over 3,000 games during those 19 seasons. I created a website that highlights her unique scorecards for the great moments in both Reds and MLB history. You will find her scorecards for the ASG, ALCS, NLCS, and World Series games during those 19 seasons. You will also find the debuts, first hits, home runs, wins, saves, and many milestones and records of Cincinnati Reds and other MLB players who made their debut against her beloved Cincinnati Reds.

CT: When did you decide to start Grandma’s Scorebook and describe the work it entailed?

MM: I’ve had her scorebooks in my possession since she passed away in October 1996. I’ve always known I wanted to do something with her scorebooks because they are filled with so many historic moments in MLB history. The 19 seasons, almost two decades that she kept score from 1973-91 is arguably the greatest time in Cincinnati Reds franchise history. When she started in 1973 the final pieces of the Big Red Machine made their debuts that season, Ken Griffey Sr and Dan Driessen. She was fortunate to record three World Series Championships, 1976, 76, & 90.

She scored Pete Rose’s 2000th, 3000th, 4192nd and his final hit #4256 along with his 44 game hitting streak. She recorded Tom Seaver’s only no-hitter, Johnny Bench’s epic home run on Johnny Bench Night, Dave Concepcion’s 1000th and 2000th hit, Cesar Cedeno’s 1000th and 2000th career hits, Johnny Bench & Dave Parker’s 2000th hit, Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver’s 200th career wins and Seaver’s 2000th strikeout, Ryan’s 3000th strikeout, and Steve Carlton’s 4000th strikeout. With all of this history I knew I had to share her passion for scorekeeping and her love of the game. During the pandemic in the spring of 2020 I decided to dive into her scorebooks and started to post her scorecards on Twitter. I received some favorable feedback and I was encouraged to keep sharing her scorecards. I then decided that I would create a website that would show her unbelievable and incredible work. This website took almost two years to create as I worked on it during my free time. It finally went live this June, 2022. This website was created so that her scorecards can be seen by my family members who live across the country and can be shared with all future generations of our family for posterity. Her work is now available for everyone to see and experience. They are no longer simply sitting in a box in my attic where no one could see them. This was a huge relief to me knowing I found a way to share her scorebooks with everyone and they can be viewed anytime.

CT: What do these accounts of games tell us about your Grandma’s personality?

MM: These artifacts show her strong Christian faith, her love of her siblings, children, and grandchildren. She writes on her scorecards when people would call her or would stop by to visit. She tells us when she is canning peaches and cherries, making apple pie and vegetable soup. She shows us when she is frustrated when her radio has too much static due to the storms outside, we see her doodling and her musings during rain delays. Most importantly we see her genuine and sincere love of these players when they achieve personal milestones, break records, praying for them when they get injured, wishing them luck in their debuts or when they are traded or sent back to the minors. She lived alone and these players along with her radio partners Marty & Joe gave her so much life and a tremendous will to live in her later years of life. She absolutely looked forward to every single game and it became a healthy obsession.

CT: Who were your Grandma’s favorite Cincinnati Reds?

MM: She had two favorite Reds, Ken Griffey and Ron Oester. I remember asking her several times over the years and she would say Griffey and Oester.

CT: What kind of feedback have you received on the site?

MM: I have received some very positive feedback on the website. I did receive a personal letter from former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig saying that he had visited the website and found her scorecards “remarkable” and he shared how he really enjoyed her scorecard from Hank Aaron’s 715th career home run. He shared how much that moment meant to him since he and Hank were close personal friends. I’ve heard from many baseball loving fans who have sent comments through the website.

CT: What do you envision as the future of this project?

MM: This website is still relatively brand new, only two months old. I simply hope that her work and her incredibly detailed scorecards can be appreciated and seen by as many baseball fans as possible. I hope when people visit this website that they can see what this beautiful game of baseball means to people. Grandma lived alone and didn’t drive or have a car but she looked forward to listening to her Reds on her radio every single game. It filled her time, kept her mind active, and gave her a purpose. I hope to reach out to as many former Cincinnati Reds players as I can that she kept score for in her scorebooks to share her story with them and their families and to personally thank them for the role that they played in her scorekeeping experience.

CT: Describe the worst seats you’ve ever had at a sporting event?

MM: I did attend a Washington (Redskins) Commanders and Philadelphia Eagles game at the Vet in the early 90’s and my seats were in the last row of the upper deck in the corner of the end zone. I was wearing a #66 jersey of my cousin, Joe Jacoby who played for Washington. Obviously I was serenaded with lots of colorful comments walking to and from my seats.

CT: What is your greatest sports video game victory?

MM: Does not getting knocked out by Glass Joe in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out or getting tackled from behind as Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl count?

CT: What advice would you give someone starting a website?

MM: Make sure you hire a professional who can create a user friendly experience and ensure that your website is compatible across all formats (phones, iPads, desktops, etc). You only get a few seconds when someone lands on your website to make an impression and for them to decide to spend some time on your website, so it’s crucial for it to be a pleasant and user friendly experience.

CT: When you think of Cincinnati, you think of ___________.

MM: The Big Red Machine, LaRosa’s pizza and the blue ice cream at Kings Island.

Go check out the Grandma’s Scorebook website and follow Mike’s Grandma’s Scorebook Twitter account. Immediately.