Bananas honor passing of legendary fan Wally Murphy with a touching mid-game tribute

"He will always be a Banana." — Bananas Manager Tyler Gillum on passing of fan Wally Murphy.

Playing in Savannah for the first time in 2024, the Bananas returned to Grayson Stadium on Friday night to play in front of a sold-out hometown crowd. Even with their addition of 1,000 seats beyond the right field wall, the ballpark was packed with Banana fans in every seat. Well, not every seat.
Row 1, Section E, Seat 18 was vacant for a very good reason.

Since 2004, the seat was a home-away-from-home for longtime Grayson Stadium staple Wally Murphy. Murphy passed away at the age of 82 last week, just before the first home game of his 21st consecutive season at the ballpark. He was an avid fan of the Savannah Sand Gnats before the Bananas arrived in town almost a decade ago.
Bananas honor passing of legendary fan Wally Murphy with a touching mid-game tribute (2)
Pen and scorebook in hand, Murphy was right at home while in his seat at Grayson Stadium
Murphy was honored by the team and manager Tyler Gillum between innings on Friday night. Gillum carried a jersey (with wording "MURPHY" and "1" inked on the back of it) to lay across the seat. It's located on the first base side behind home plate, and just above the Banana on-deck circle.

"Wally was one of the best. He was a true Banana fan," Gillum said in a text on Saturday morning. "He was one of the first Banana fans I met when I started coaching here in 2018. Before every game I would look over and find Wally in his special seat. He would give me a big smile, nod his head and shoot me a thumbs up."

"He would always have his own scorebook and be keeping score."
Murphy would keep the same routine during the season on game days.

Arrive early for a chance to check out the starting lineups and collect other pregame bits of knowledge before taking his seat for the game, during which he kept track of every pitch in his own book brought from home. Then, before heading home to write up his nightly blog recap of the game that night, he would need to get some insight from the manager.

"He had the best interview approach in history," Gillum said. "After the game, he would walk down to the dugout, pull out his phone, turn on a video, put the video in really close to my face and say ... ‘Alright coach, start talking!’"
click to enlarge Bananas honor passing of legendary fan Wally Murphy with a touching mid-game tribute (3)
Bananas' Manager Tyler Gillum lays jersey, flowers in Wally's seat between innings on Friday, Feb. 23 at Grayson Stadium
"It always made me laugh. I’ll miss those videos. Wally will be in our hearts. He will always be a Banana."

You can watch the Murphy tribute from Friday night by clicking on the video at bottom of this story (takes you directly to moment of tribute).

Watch the Bananas throughout their 2024 World Tour with live broadcasts on the team's YouTube channel and get updates daily on all social media platforms, @TheSavBananas.

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and has been writing in Savannah since 2016. Reach him with feedback or story tips at 912-721-4358
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