Murph Knows Travel

This week, El Paso Chihuahas manager Pat Murphy embarks on the most arduous road trip of his career: 24 games in 25 nights. Try to follow us here: Phoenix to Reno to Tacoma to Tucson to Albuquerque to Las Vegas to Sacramento to El Paso (grand total: 4,514 miles).

For a regular person — it’d be a stomach-churning, humanity-questioning, trip from you-know-where. For the Padres’ AAA skipper (whom few would describe as ‘regular’) it’s par for the course, especially if you look at his frenetic offseason.

Murphy spent 17 days in the Dominican Republic with other Padres coaches at the Padres training facility in Najayo, Dominican Republic.

Kai Murphy (Right)

While he was abroad, Murphy’s son Kai, 13, a standout club baseball / football player (who trained in the offseason with his brother-in-law, the Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez and National League MVP Andrew McCutchen) was excelling in a third sport: basketball. Kai plays guard for the vaunted Arizona Power 13U team.

And speaking of multi-sport athletes — perhaps the highlight of Murphy’s offseason was a day spent with the most famous of them all.

Murphy was a featured speaker at Bo Jackson’s Foundation Dinner, held January 16th in Lockport, Ill.

What was it like to meet the greatest athlete of his generation?

“He’s an icon. Arguably the greatest athlete that ever lived,” said Murphy.

Murphy & Bo

Murphy Smiles with Bo Jackson

“He’s really a baller; into the simple things in life. Loves talking about the game of baseball, loves talking about competition. Pays unbelievable respect to his college football coach (Auburn’s Pat Dye). He’s into leadership, he’s into discipline, he’s really into education.”

One of Murphy’s former players, John Flanagan, runs Jackson’s training facility, one of the best in the country.

“Bo’s in Muhammad Ali’s category; one-on-one he’s just a guy telling stories. You can tell he wants to make a difference in kid’s lives. He’s into some pretty neat stuff. Real level-headed.”

Murphy now has part of his own indoor facility; this offseason he became part-owner of the Arizona World of Baseball at McClintock and Elliot in Tempe, Ariz. His general manager is Goose Gosewisch, father of Diamondbacks’ catcher (and former Murphy player) Tuffy Gosewisch.

“It gave me another project to work on again in the winter. Got all our Sandlot teams working out there in the winter.It’s an indoor facility with great people — a little older but we’re renovating it. It’s working out to be a decent place.”

In February, it was back to Peoria for Padres’ spring training, Murphy’s second big-league camp.

“I can’t say enough about Buddy Black and his staff,” said Murphy.

Murphy says one of the highlights of camp was spending time with longtime Padres’ closer Trevor Hoffman.

“I’ll tell you: Trevor is special,” said Murphy. “He’s a unique character who will tell you exactly what he thinks. He’s intense. Focused.”

The two would find themselves in the outfield during batting practice and found ways to pass the time.

“We played fungo HORSE. You’d hit and the other guy would have to match your shot. It became a pretty popular game.”

And how did the self described “old ball coach” compare with the legendary closer?

“I hung tough.”

If you can hang with a man with 601 career saves, a long road trip should be a walk in the park.

READING MATERIAL:
Check out this recent Sports Illustrated profile on Murphy’s former player Jason Kipnis.

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