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Monday, June 17, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Murphy Gets Malicious at the Plate

Buffalo catcher has scouts drooling

James Starks was the last athlete to come out of UB and become a household name. The next could very well be Tom Murphy.

What's so special about this small-town kid? Murphy, a business major, is the starting catcher for the baseball team, and he has been putting up stats that Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, and every other professional player could envy.

If he were playing a 162-game schedule like MLB teams do, Murphy would be on pace for more than 50 home runs – a feat only attained by Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista last season.

Following the same 162-game calculation, Murphy would be on pace for 222 RBIs: the MLB all-time record is 191.

These projections cannot be taken too seriously, as college baseball is much different than the pros, but they do serve to convey the success that Murphy has had this year. As impressive as his statistics are, they are not the only thing that makes Murphy so special.

It is Murphy's polite and wholesome demeanor that defines him as a person, not his achievements on the diamond.

"Without sounding mushy or anything, you couldn't ask for a better kid," said Kelly Murphy, Tom's mother. "He keeps his grades up; he's never been in any kind of trouble; he's a caring person. I can't say enough about him."

Murphy's mother isn't the only one who realizes how special her son is.

"[Tom] is always very positive," said Bulls head coach Ron Torgalski. "He's a tremendous kid who gets along with everybody. He's well-liked on the team, and he's all business. He's really dedicated to what he's doing both in the classroom and helping us win baseball games."

Torgalski isn't exaggerating when he says Tom is all business. The business major focuses 100 percent of his energy on getting the task at hand done.

Murphy understands that playing baseball at UB on top of having a normal life requires an unfathomable amount of commitment. He regularly wakes up at 5 a.m. for practice or 6 a.m. to go to work.

Torgalski said Murphy has stepped up as a leader this year. Last year, the squad was stacked with seniors, so Murphy sat back and let the older players lead. Now, even though he is only a sophomore, he's who the players look up to.

"Throughout my whole life, [my parents] have told me you have to work your hardest to make your way up," Murphy said. "Both my parents have shown me through their careers and lives that you aren't handed anything."

Murphy has wanted to play baseball almost as long as he's been alive. As a kid, he improved as an athlete by competing against kids who were older than he was.

"He started baseball when he was five years old," Kelly Murphy said. "I was out in the yard playing with him [back then]. He got to his first night of tee-ball and they moved him [to an older league] that night. He's always played ahead of his age group."

Murphy's parents realized when he was young that he had unbelievable potential. They knew that they would support him in every way possible, but there was one condition: he wasn't allowed to mess up, at all.

If Murphy were to get in trouble once at school, with the law, or in any other way, his parents said they would no longer support his baseball career.

He has achieved his goal of playing college baseball, but Murphy is already thinking about what he can do after his time with the Bulls is over.

"My dream would be winning a [Mid-American Conference] championship and going to the NCAA tournament," Murphy said. "Beyond UB, I hope to get drafted, play in the minor leagues, and work my way up from there."

The modest young man's dreams are growing more feasible every time he steps up to the plate. Torgalski and Kelly Murphy mentioned that several pro scouts have already contacted them.

Regardless of how far he goes, Murphy is enjoying the ride because he gets to play the sport he loves. Baseball is more than a game to him.

"I put all my time and hard work into the sport," Murphy said. "But I don't feel like I have to do this, or like it's work. It's something I love to do. It's my life."

Email: sports@ubspectrum.com


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