“I knew it was a significant occasion, and just once many years ago, I did talk to a memorabilia expert who told me it was valuable,” Murphy, now 77 and retired, said. “But I didn’t do anything with it. It was an unknown thing — just part of my stuff that went with me for all those years. ”
Experienced at editing film, he had reduced the original film to about four minutes, to include the best, most revealing scenes and sequences. He had the film transferred to Beta videotape and eventually digitized.
Several years ago, Murphy said he telephoned ESPN but an associate producer showed little interest.
Murphy also initiated a cordial conversation with the Red Sox, but the team did not request to see the film either.
But as time went on, Murphy grew more uneasy about having a potentially important, secret baseball artifact in his desk drawer.
“Every three to eight months, I would wake up at 3 a.m. in the morning thinking about the Ted Williams film,” Murphy said. “I’d say to myself, ‘Geez, this thing is sitting there anonymously.’
“It would be on my mind. But I wasn’t motivated enough to do anything about it.”
Then, one day early this year, he read about the coming PBS documentary. Murphy wrote an email to the production company that found its way to Nick Davis, the director of the film.
Davis, who had been working on the Williams project since late 2015, had scoured film archives and baseball research repositories for additional footage of Williams’s last day, which he considered crucial to the narrative of Williams’s life.