For The Love Of The Game
By: Dan Crowley
He is a Cape Cod League All-Star. Last summer he played for the Mystic Schooners and was a New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Star. The summer before that he was named to the All Eastern Collegiate Baseball League All-Star team as a member of the Rome Thunderbolts, now a part of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. Last spring his Sacred Heart University Pioneers won the Northeast Conference Championship for the second straight season and he was named to the All Tournament team. For three straight high school seasons, he was not only a league All-Star but was All-State.
So who is John Murphy?
“I’m just a small town guy that’s enjoying the dream of playing baseball,” Murphy said with a smile. “I’m working hard to make the people who have helped me along the way proud.”
Murphy from Seymour, Connecticut, has an even longer list of baseball and basketball accolades, but that’s not what is important to him. He’s a natural athlete but he works hard to be a better baseball player. And every time he puts on his uniform, every time he takes the field or steps to the plate, he is doing it for the man who taught him the game.
“My father passed away in 2007,” Murphy said. “He died just after my high school team won our state championship. I’m playing for him.”
This summer Murphy is one of the top hitters for the Bourne Braves. A shortstop for the Sacred Heart Pioneers, he has played not only some shortstop but some second base and has been the designated hitter for Bourne.
“I’m a utility guy,” he said of his role this summer with the Braves. “As long as I’m swinging the bat well and in the lineup, I’m fine with that.”
Growing up in New England with a love for the game, it was only natural that his parents brought him to Cape Cod in the summertime to watch some baseball.
“We came to the Cape when I was young,” he recalled. “Mostly we saw Y-D games. I remember back then seeing all the fans; it was crazy. We came every summer until I started high school. To have the chance to play here now is just incredible.”
Seymour, Connecticut, isn’t that far away. His mother, Anne, has come to Bourne four or five times this summer to watch him play. Last summer the drive to watch John play for the Mystic Schooners was only about an hour and 20 minutes from home.
“I had heard that the New England Collegiate League was one of the top five summer collegiate leagues in the country,” Murphy said. “The competition was good, but the travel was much different from this summer on the Cape. Sometimes we’d have to go four or five hours to play, but it was worth it. I think the NECBL was like a prep for the Cape League. There the guys throw four or five miles per hour slower. Here you’re facing 90-plus miles per hour every night.”
Murphy knows how to swing a bat. As a junior in high school he hit .500. The next year he hit .350.
In his three seasons with Sacred Heart he has hit .358, .300 and .343. This summer, at the start of the week, he was batting .308 for the Braves.
“I started off this summer really comfortable and relaxed at the plate,” he said. “Knowing what you’ve done in the past and what you’re capable of makes a fresh start each season always exciting.”
When not in a game situation with Sacred Heart, Murphy likes to swing with wood.
“I swing with wood most of the year until game time,” he said. “I think if you can hit with wood it makes swinging aluminum much easier.”
One thing he’ll take away from his summer on the Cape will be a lot of good memories. He’s having fun.
“Just having the opportunity to come here and meet new guys from all over the country is great,” he said. “Here you build friendships that you’ll never forget. The team is like a family.”
This fall Murphy will enter his senior year at Sacred Heart University. He’ll return to the Pioneer baseball team for the second time as a team captain.
“I’m looking for us to repeat for the third time as conference champions,” he said with a smile. “A new season is always fun. There is always the chance there’ll be that freshman who will step up and help us get that third ring.”
This is the final summer season of collegiate baseball for Murphy. It will also be his fourth and final season with the Pioneers. He has never been drafted by a major league club but would love to have the chance to continue to play.
“My plan is to stay involved with baseball,” he explained. “I’ll keep working hard every day and keep doing what I’m doing and, hopefully, I’ll get noticed. But for summer ball, playing on the Cape is an incredible way to top it off. It’s the best league with the best players in the country. I couldn’t ask for more.”
When he graduates next spring, he’ll have a degree in psychology and education.
“The psychology has played a huge part in my game,” he said. “It has helped with the mental part of the game and staying positive and confident.”
Should he not get the chance to play ball beyond college, he has a plan, and maybe that has a little bit to do with the man who taught him the game a long time ago.
“I want to stay involved with the game. If I can’t play, I want to coach baseball,” he added. “I’ve helped out with day camps and worked with young players and I can see just how much they enjoy it—almost as much as I do.”
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