Goldeyes’ Murphy is in it to win it
On-field success a priority for hard-hitting outfielder
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/07/2022 (305 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Like wine and fine leather Goldeyes slugger Max Murphy just keeps getting better with age.
The 29-year-old outfielder came into Tuesday’s series opener at Shaw Park against the Chicago Dogs with a career-best 22 home runs through 62 games. Murphy’s home run tally put him second in the American Association, one back of Kane County Cougars power hitter Jimmy Kerrigan.
“I just feel good this year, I just feel like I got a little bit more power,” said Murphy. “Every once in a while I just have a year like that.”
Murphy was originally drafted by his home state Minnesota Twins in the ninth round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He bounced around the Twins’ system from 2014-17, with a stop in St. Paul, Minn., during the 2018 American Association season.
The 2019 campaign saw Murphy’s big league dreams get close to becoming a reality again, spending time with the Arizona Diamondbacks’ triple-A, double-A and high-A affiliates during the back half of the season. Murphy collected three championship rings that season, with one earned with the American Association champion St. Paul Saints and the others from the Arizona-affiliated high-A and double-A teams he played for.
Murphy, however, is open about the fact affiliated baseball isn’t the be-all and end-all to carving out an enjoyable career in the sport. Playing baseball is still all about having fun, even as he nears his 30th birthday.
“If I was in affiliated (baseball) with the way those places are usually run I would not be playing still, it’s not fun, I’d say a large percentage of the time,” he said. “ But here I feel like it’s real baseball and we’re treated like adults.”
It’s well over an hour before first-pitch at Shaw Park, the rumble of a riding mower fills the stands and the anthem singer goes through their practice run. There’s something about coming to a mostly quiet ballpark, with the sun shining and looking out at the empty field from the dugout Muprhy says can’t be beaten.
He recalled the first full season he played in the Minnesota Twins system. There was lots of extra work before games and a realization that the pressure one puts on himself and playing high-level baseball can be draining.
Murphy has learned over the years you don’t always have to put so much energy into the sport because things can get bad and go downhill quickly. He’s able to compete at a high level in Winnipeg while also having time to prioritize hobbies such as fishing. He also said the long off-season and shorter time frame of the American Association season has made life with baseball a lot easier.
“You just have to try and have fun because if you can’t do that there’s pretty much no reason to play,” said Murphy. “If you’re not having fun there’s a very small chance you’re gonna play well.”
“So, you have to find a place where you just have fun and you love it there,” he added.
Goldeyes skipper Rick Forney likely knows more about the Goldeyes than most Winnipeggers, especially since the current campaign is his 26th straight with the club and 17th as its manager. Despite his experience in the game, there isn’t one specific reason he can point to that sums up Murphy’s success, instead, it’s a combination of many things.
“Baseball is a preparation sport, he was in here at noon today doing whatever he does to get himself ready, he’s in phenomenal shape,” said Forney. “Obviously he cares about doing well and he’s really good in this league. He’s just a really good all-around baseball player.”
Murphy spent the 2021 season with the Goldeyes in Jackson, Tenn., and Winnipeg. His 13 home runs, 71 RBI and durability that allowed him to play 99 out of 100 regular season games last year made it a no-brainer for Forney and company to bring him back for the 2022 campaign.
“Why wouldn’t you? He’s a good defender, and he’s a good offensive player,” said Forney. “Most importantly, he’s a good person.”
Murphy admitted sometimes he’ll think about what could’ve been in the majors, but also believes everything happens for a reason. His professional career has taken him to many states and an entirely different country, but he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down and there’s still much to accomplish.
“I got four championship rings, It’d be nice to win one more and have a handful of rings,” said Murphy.” That’d be cool for my career, so really just playing winning baseball is my goal right now.”