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Bittersweet honour for Goldeyes Murphy

Right-fielder named American Association Player of the Year less than 24 hours after breaking leg in playoff opener

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Max Murphy wasn’t in a celebratory mood on Thursday. Instead, the Winnipeg Goldeyes right-fielder was undergoing surgery for a gruesome broken leg suffered Wednesday night at Shaw Park.

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Max Murphy wasn’t in a celebratory mood on Thursday. Instead, the Winnipeg Goldeyes right-fielder was undergoing surgery for a gruesome broken leg suffered Wednesday night at Shaw Park.

As he begins the long road to recovery, the 29-year-old can take solace in the fact a season that has been painfully cut short was deemed by his peers to be the best in the business.

Murphy is the winner of the 2022 American Association Player of the Year Award, which was voted on by the league’s 12 field managers, along with executives and media representatives.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Goldeyes right-fielder Max Murphy led the American Association with 31 home runs and 97 RBI in the 2022 regular season.

He is just the fourth member of the Fish to capture the honour, joining Terry Lee (1995 and 1996), Sean Hearn (1998) and Josh Romanski (2017).

Murphy powered the Goldeyes offense all year, batting .308 with a league-leading 31 home runs (tying Winnipeg’s all-time franchise mark set by Kyle Martin last year) and league-leading 97 RBI. The Robbinsdale, Minn., product started all 100 games and tied for the league-lead in assists with 12.

He even made seven appearances as a pitcher in mop-up duty, striking out seven batters in six innings.

Murphy smashed a double in his first at-bat Wednesday night as the best-of-three West Division semi-final against Fargo got underway. He followed that up with another two-bagger in the third inning which drove in a run, only to have it all come to a stunning halt a few minutes later in a violent home-plate collision with RedHawks catcher Christian Correa.

Murphy ended up airborne as Correa tried to field an errant throw from pitcher Kevin McGovern and blocked his path. Although he was awarded with the run, Murphy was in clear distress. Manager Rick Forney and medical staff rushed to his side and a stretcher was brought on to the field. He was stabilized and taken to hospital.

Winnipeg went on to win the game 6-3.

“We’re not talking about just losing the best player on our team. We’re losing the best player in the league, he’s the league MVP. You can’t replace him,” said Forney.

Despite the huge hole in the lineup, the Goldeyes can advance to the division final with a win on Friday night in North Dakota. Game 3, if necessary, would go Saturday evening in Fargo.

Murphy was originally drafted by his hometown Minnesota Twins in 2014 (ninth round) and eventually reached the Triple-A level in the Arizona organization in 2019 after spending three years in the American Association playing for the St. Paul Saints.

After being released by the Diamondbacks in 2021, Murphy signed with the Goldeyes and has spent the past two seasons in Winnipeg.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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Updated on Friday, September 9, 2022 8:04 AM CDT: Fixes typos

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