Over the course of his career, as Daniel Murphy has matured into what all of a sudden feels like an All-Star-caliber slugger, the New York Mets second baseman has earned himself a fitting nickname: the Irish Hammer. And now, as the Mets prepare to face off against the Kansas City Royals in their first World Series since 2000, Murphy, like all great heroes, finally has a theme song.
Last Friday, Irish-born, New York–based singer Maxine Linehan recorded an ode to Murphy set to the tune of the popular Irish folk song “Danny Boy.” With her long red hair tucked behind a blue-and-orange Mets cap, Linehan belted out the verses while perched atop a roof in Times Square, changing the century-old lyrics to honor Murphy and his new MLB record for home runs in six consecutive postseason games. The idea came to her after seeing the headline “Oh, Danny Boy!” following the National League Championship Series last week.
“It literally was the perfect storm,” Linehan tells the Voice. Born in Newry and raised in Cork, she continues to bear the slight brogue of her upbringing. She recorded a somber, more traditional version of “Danny Boy” earlier this year, and had performed the ballad in the days leading up to the NLCS at a club in midtown Manhattan. “Just the coincidence of those things lining up for me in the span of a few days, I thought it was funny. I wanted to look up Daniel Murphy and learn more about him; he just seems like such an incredible guy. I thought, ‘How great would it be to do a rendition of that song in his honor?’ ”
Growing up in Ireland, it was soccer — not baseball — that served as the national pastime. But during trips to visit her family in Massachusetts, Linehan developed a passion for the sport, along with a fondness for the Boston Red Sox. Having now lived in New York City for nearly fifteen years — and married a diehard Mets fan along the way — Linehan is more than happy to root on Murphy and his teammates this postseason while watching the games with her husband and two children.
“It’s one of the biggest things that has happened in our household this year, the fact that the Mets were in the playoffs, and then won, and are now in the World Series,” she says. “It’s a big deal. It’s always on our television.”
It was Linehan’s husband, the music producer Andrew Koss, who wrote most of the lyrics for the song, taking time out from a recording session to infuse some additional baseball references into the tune. The terrace of his recording studio, Terminus, located across from Rockefeller Plaza at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 48th Street, served as the backdrop for the video shoot.
But while the inspiration for the song makes perfect sense — playing on Murphy’s first name and Irish ancestry — and the video has already amassed better than 23,000 views on YouTube in just a few short days, some fans have been puzzled by the choice of melody. In the U.S., “Danny Boy” is often seen as a melancholic ballad, closely associated with funeral processions and mourning. But in Ireland, the song is something of a national anthem and carries a deeper, more triumphant message about the Irish diaspora.
Murphy joins an impressive list of New York baseball stars who have been immortalized in song. But while he may not have the instant name recognition of Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, or Mickey Mantle, his song is the only one that was instantly recognizable.
“I sing the song because it describes a parent saying goodbye to a child who emigrates,” Linehan explains. “We don’t really associate it — I certainly don’t associate it — with sadness. It’s more moving and reverential. And that’s why I thought it was so fitting, because Daniel Murphy has done this amazing thing and is this incredibly humble athlete.”
As New York gears up for its first World Series since 2009, here are a few more songs to get you in the mood:
And because it’s the Mets…
And because this one is just awesome…