Billy Murphy grew up as a Yankees’ fan in Union County, but you might be surprised which team the Roselle Catholic graduate is rooting for as the Bronx Bombers faced the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series.
“I hope the Astros win the World Series,” Murphy said.
The Houston Astros came back from a 3-2 deficit to win the final two games of the American League Championship Series at home to defeat the New York Yankees in seven games and advance to their second World Series.
The 2017 World Series begins in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Oct. 24 when the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers host the American champion Houston Astros.
The Dodgers are in the World Series for the first time since they last won it in 1988. This is the first time the Astros are representing the American League in a World Series. In their only other World Series appearance, Houston – as the National League pennant winner in 2005 – was swept by the Chicago White Sox. That was the first time the White Sox were in the World Series since 1959 and the first time they won it since 1917 – a span of 88 years.
Murphy completed his second season as a member of the Houston Astros’ organization last month. Murphy, 27, was pitching coach of the Tri-City ValleyCats, the Houston Astros’ short season affiliate in the New York Penn League.
“The organization is first class in everything that it does and has given me a tremendous opportunity,” Murphy said. “I am so thankful to be a part of this organization and look forward to some exciting games in the next couple of weeks.”
He joined the ValleyCats, who play their home games in Troy, N.Y., after a season as the pitching coach with the Greenville (Tenn.) Astros in the Appalachian League in 2016.
Murphy made the jump to professional baseball after a season as the pitching coach at Brown University following a stint as co-manager and pitching coach for the Northwoods Collegiate League’s Battle Creek Bombers.
“When I was at Roselle Catholic I knew I would always be in baseball. I just didn’t know what capacity that would be,” said Murphy, who supports his alma mater’s basketball teams in The Lions’ Den before reporting to spring training. “It’s still surreal at times just thinking about how much fun I have at work on a daily basis.”
After graduating from Roselle Catholic in 2007 – Murphy starred as a pitcher and infielder for the Lions – Murphy pitched for three seasons at Rutgers University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in history. Murphy earned an MBA from Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y., where he played first base during his final year of eligibility.
In 2013, Murphy was a volunteer assistant coach at Georgetown University and also coached in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League with the Rockville Express. He returned to his alma mater to help coach the Lions from 2010-2013.
“I think about Roselle Catholic on a regular basis,” said Murphy, who grew up in Cranford. “I always have a Roselle Catholic baseball shirt in my locker at the field … There is no doubt in my mind I would not be where I am today without Roselle Catholic and the people that helped me along the way.”
Murphy fondly recalls those Roselle Catholic people, both on and off the diamond.
“(Coach) Joe Kropa always encouraged me and trusted me when I played for him and those are things I try to instill every day to people I coach … John Schmitt guided me, mentored me and went out of his way to teach me how to coach and how to be a good person.
“(Guidance Counselor Mrs. Mary McCarthy) in the Guidance Room was awesome. I would always visit her and will never forget her … I am so proud to be from Roselle Catholic.”
ENJOYS BIG-LEAGUE EXPERIENCE
Pitching coach Billy Murphy and the Tri-City ValleyCats enjoyed a big-league experience this summer.
Houston Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 Cy Young Award winner, pitched up to his pedigree during an injury rehabilitation start for Tri-City, the Astros’ Single A affiliate in the New York-Penn League on July 22 in Lowell, Mass.
Keuchel tossed five innings, allowing just one run, to lead the Tri-City ValleyCats to a 5-1 victory over the host Lowell Spinners in a New York-Penn League game. Keuchel, who was making his second minor league rehabilitation start, picked up the win, giving up three hits while striking out five.
“It was a great experience for our players to see how a successful Major League player conducts himself and goes about his business,” said Murphy, who monitored Keuchel’s pre-game session in the bullpen. “This is a guy who pitched in a winner-take-all playoff game, but he was so focused. It was a rehab start, but he was locked in and ready to go.
“There was a lot of buzz in our locker room with anticipation that he was coming,” Murphy said. “Most of our players never get to see an athlete in the prime of his career go about his business. I’m sure it inspired a bunch of our guys and gave them a view that most other people don’t get to see … It was fun to watch our younger guys get to see somebody they hope to be one day.”