From the Minors to the Majors

For two decades, the years in Pat Murphy’s life looked pretty much the same; recruiting season, college baseball season (which most of the time included postseason) and a brief offseason.

2013? Not so much.

The Tucson Padres (and now El Paso Chihauhuas) manager did some globetrotting, managed a successful AAA team and even found some time in the Major League stratosphere, personally and professionally.

After years of coaching college athletes and two season in short-season A-ball, this year found the 54-year-old in uncharted waters: working with grown men.

“It’s way different,” said Murphy, just days removed from coaching in the Dominican Republic.

“At any age you want to grow, you want to be able to find your best self. Just because they’re older doesn’t mean they don’t need the sae type of leadership; you just expect more, you give them more responsibility. They know the game so much better than the other kids.”

Case-in-point: former Major Leaguer Jason Lane, now making a comeback as a 36-year-old pitcher, threw 46 ⅓ innings for Murphy.

The Padres finished 77-67 in their final season in Tucson, the 5th best record in the Pacific Coast League. Their manager deflects credit but the numbers don’t like; a year before the team finished 56-88, 15th out of 16 teams. It was the organizations’s best record in 10 seasons.

“We kept it fun,” said Murphy.

“We had a bunch of great guys, old and young. Tons of adversity.”

The last game of the season exemplified the team’s mettle. Despite being eliminated from the postseason, the Padres’ rallied for two runs in the top of the 9th to beat the division champion Las Vegas 51s 5-4. What makes the comeback extra unique? The key hit was delivered by a pinch-hitter, Sean O’Sullivan. Murphy sent a pitcher as a pinch-hitter to the plate in the 9th inning.

Happenstance also allowed Murphy to cross paths with several of his former Arizona State players for the first time professionally: Kole Calhoun, Tuffy Gosewisch and Willie Bloomquist.

“To see Willie standing there, I got choked up a bunch of times,” said Murphy.

“Here’s one of my closest friends in the world, a guy I respect so much, everything I think a player should be. Just awesome.”

This was also Murphy’s first opportunity to live a lifelong dream: tell a player he’d been promoted to The Show.

On August 15th the Padres called up catcher Chris Robinson, in his 9th season in the Minor Leagues.

“I had (my son) Kai do it,” said Murphy.

“I had Kai tell him, ‘I don’t know where my Dad is. I have this note it says ‘Kai I won’t be home. Brush your seeth, set your alarm and send Robinson to the Big Leagues.’ He just lost it. That was fun.”

Of course, that was just an appetizer. When Tucson’s season ended, Murphy himself got to finish the season with San Diego.

“My first road trip we went to Philadelphia,” said Murphy.

“To walk out on the field — I was the first one out there, I just looked out and said ‘Whoa.’ I still didn’t feel 100% in the Big Leagues — I felt like I was getting a Visitation Pass. I enjoyed every bit of it.”

When San Diego traveled ot Pittsburgh
, Murphy’s son-in-law, Pedro Alvarez hit one of his longest home runs of the season (436 feet) off the Friars’ Ian Kennedy.

“Ian comes up to the next day and say ‘Tell me you didn’t fist pump when he hit off of me.”

Kai and daughter Keli were in attendance that day and at Citi Field for Alvarez’s first All Star appearance.

“Kai was in the dugout for the Home Run Derby,” said Murphy. “He was sitting there telling me about eating lunch with Kershaw and Harper. Kai says, ‘Pedro left me and I’m sitting there and they’re talking to me like I’m one of the guys.’”

“I’m like, ‘Poor you.’”

After the whirlwind year Pat Murphy had — his friends might give him the same ribbing.

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