Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Murphy, who covered the New York Mets from the team's inception in 1962 until his retirement after last season, died yesterday. He was 79. He had battled lung cancer since his retirement. Murphy worked as a baseball broadcaster for 50 years, starting with the Red Sox in 1954 and then moving to the Orioles in 1960. He came to the expansion Mets in their first year, joining Lindsay Nelson and Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner as the broadcast team. The trio worked together on radio and television for 17 years before Nelson left for San Francisco.

"It's like losing a brother," Kiner said in a statement. "We did everything together. It's so hard to fathom he's gone."

* OLERUD TO YANKEES: Recently released John Olerud signed with the Yankees, giving the team insurance at first base while Jason Giambi is treated for a benign tumor. Olerud is a two-time all-star, a three-time Gold Glove winner and was the 1993 AL batting champion. But he started slumping in the second half last season with Seattle, and the Mariners cut him last month. Olerud was hitting .245 with five home runs and 22 RBI.

* GRIFFEY ACTIVATED: The Reds activated Ken Griffey Jr. (hamstring) from the 15-day disabled list. However, he was not in the lineup for the series opener against the Giants last night.

-- From News Services