07/14/2018 12:48 PM
One way, or another, if he continues the trajectory evidenced by the vapor trail of success so far in his life, Allen Murphy will be a big leaguer.
It may be in baseball, or it may be as a doctor.
When Bob Ohmann is asked about his version of Shohei Ohtani—an outfielder/pitcher—the Newark Pilots owner describes Murphy with one of the best superlatives a young man can receive.
“He’s the All-American kid.”
Interesting that Mr. Ohmann chose the article “the” instead of “an.” “An” would imply he’s one of many; “The” suggests Murphy is the prototype. Yeah, a prototype in a new era where more and more pitchers are hitting, too, and playing another position—something that was typically forbidden by coaches and managers for most pitchers to do since the addition of the designated hitter in the 1970s.
An “All-American Kid” who could follow in the footsteps of Dr. Bobby Brown, or Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, a real player-turned-physician immortalized in “Field of Dreams.”
(For the record, Graham played one game for the New York Giants without an at bat after the ballclub purchased his contract the Binghamton Bingoes in 1905. He is buried in Rochester, too. Minnesota, that is.)
But don’t ask Murphy if that’s true, because he won’t tell you. Even if he has more options than even Ohtani at this point.
He’ll speak, and with a smile, enthusiasm and respect, but succinctly and humbly. It’s not in a phony, Taylor Swift-like, 'aw, shucks/who, me?' manner, either, but in a way that means there is still business to do.
In other words, ‘I haven’t done anything, yet.’
Murphy comes from Class C’s Bolivar-Richburg high school in the rugged areas of Allegheny County. From there, St. John Fisher Cardinals’ head baseball coach, Brandon Potter, took notice and whipped-up a plan to bring him to Pittsford. After his sophomore season, the pre-med major signed-on with the Newark Pilots. He’s a Perfect Game league All-Star in his first season in the league, at both his positions. And the ceiling for this ballplayer may not at the Division III level after all, either.
But getting drafted by a big league club, like some have suggested, doesn’t sound like something that concerns Muphy.
“I’m not really sure,” he says. “It would be great if that happened. There are a lot of uncertainties with that. I don’t know about that. But, I’ll just keep playing and whatever happens, happens.”
Well, he’ done a heckuva job as a Pilot. At press time, Murphy was fourth in the PGCBL in batting with a .385 average and only three homers off the league’s pace-setter. He’s ranked first in the league in baseball’s raw coverall stat, OPS (On-base average Plus Slugging percentage) among qualified batters (minimum of 90 at bats) at 1.229 (the “Mendoza line” for OPS is about .700). On the hill, over a nine-inning game, Murphy would average over seven strikeouts.
This past season at Fisher, his OPS was .980, drawing walks in 40 percent of his plate appearances—a sabermetric GM's dream target. His average was .324 over the course of the season, ranking fifth on the team, and tied for second in the team’s HR department. In 2017, his offense and pitching landed him a spot on the Empire 8 Conference’s All-Tournament Team.
Murphy’s good-natured, but business-first conduct could make him blend-in any group. But his play stood-out to Potter, which is why he lured Murphy to Fisher.
When he’s asked about Murphy, Brandon’s first impressions sound like they’re being read off a scouting report.
“He was always a really, really talented kid,” the one-time College World Series coach noted. “Really good arm, really fast twitch, good swing, worked hard…”
Then comes the qualifications that sold a man--who has already produced two MLB draft picks--on Murphy.
“He always played harder than anyone else. He always flew around the field no matter where he played.”
From the sounds of things, Allen puts his brain through the same workout around the classroom that his body endures on the ballfield.
“He’s a really good student,” Potter adds. “I mean a REALLY good student. And he tries to do well in everything he does, whether it’s baseball or school. He’s a great kid. Easy to like. Easy to cheer for. Easy to root for that he can go on to play professional baseball, or whatever it his he decides to do. Incredible work ethic.”
“He’s talented enough to both pitch AND hit, which is RARE in college. I’ve told him since he was a freshman he is the most talented kid on the field in every game we play, so it’s good to see him do really well with the Pilots.”
Asking Potter if Murphy can be his third player drafted, the 35 year-old coach sounds cautiously optimistic.
“It’s hard to definitively say yes or no,” Potter prefaces. “But, I think if he keeps playing the way he does, there will be opportunities.”
Those opportunities for the bigtime are multi-faceted, much like his ability to pitch, hit and play outfield. Whether he ends-up playing in the minors, the majors, or going to med school to become a doctor—he’s scheduled to take the MCATs between semesters his junior year—he’ll be all business. An All-Star from a small southern tier town who lived at least ONE American Dream, let alone the possibility of TWO.
Not just AN All-American kid.
THE All-American Kid.
But don’t ask him. He wouldn't tell you, anyway.