Pat Murphy a big-league manager after all
PHOENIX -- Pat Murphy was out for a morning walk in his Tempe neighborhood with his brother, Dan, before Arizona State's 2009 NCAA Super Regional when he mentioned he might be interested in being a major league manager one day. Dan was not sure that was a good idea.
"He said, 'You're stupid,'" Murphy recounted Friday. "'You have a great thing going here. Just relax and do what you are doing.' He said, 'Pat, there are 30 major league managers. There are 50 governors. You've got no shot.' So I let that thought go."
Yet in about the length of a governor's term, the man who led Arizona State to four College World Series appearances this week joined the more select group as the interim manager of the San Diego Padres.
People have noticed. Murphy, 56, said he has received about 1,400 text messages since he got the job on Tuesday, from former players such as Ike Davis, Jason Kipnis, Mike Leake, and Kole Calhoun, to former ASU coaches Herb Sendek and Dirk Koetter.
Oakland second baseman Eric Sogard, a former ASU infielder, sent a simple text to Murphy after he beat the Padres with a ninth-inning single Tuesday. "I'm sorry," it read.
Buddy Black, the man Murphy replaced, sent him a congratulatory text last night, after Murphy's first victory.
"That makes your hair stand up," Murphy said before the Padres opened a three-game series against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. "Buddy was tremendous to me. Buddy taught me. Buddy gave me access. This guy will be a friend for life. Clutch times like this. To go through what he went through and to text the interim manager? Class guy. I hope I can have those qualities."
Murphy joined the Padres organization in 2010, when then San Diego managing partner Jeff Moorad brought him on as a special assistant. Murphy spent two seasons as the manager at short-season Eugene before he took over Triple-A Tucson/El Paso in 2013.
Now the Padres.
Murphy landed on his feet after a highly successful, often tumultuous 15 years at ASU came to a close with his forced resignation following a two-year NCAA investigation that alleged recruiting violations and academic fraud.
Murphy, who won 629 games and was a four-time Pac-10 coach of the year, was cleared of recruiting improprieties but was reprimanded for treating NCAA investigators cavalierly.
"I was crushed," Murphy admitted Friday. "I'd never had that. I couldn't speak. I learned so much from growing through that. You think you are mature. You think you got it. Going through that experience, it cut me down to my core and really made me have to focus and do things I never had to do before.
"My son and my daughter got me through it. I have to be strong for them. What example am I giving them? That told me to buckle down and go. I didn't have this in mind. I wasn't saying 'Hey, I'm going to be a major league manager.' I just said 'You know what, I'm going to put my head down and I'm not going to worry about a lot of things I used to worry about. I'm going to be a good example for these kids. I'm going to get a job and I'm going try to do it well and try to do something different.'"
Brett Wallace played under Murphy at Arizona. Wallace and teammate Ike Davis staged a fight before an NCAA tournament game against Fresno State in 2008, another incident that did not meet with NCAA approval.
"I know the guys are going to like him and like playing for him," said Wallace, whom Murphy on Friday called up from El Paso. "He's always going to be himself, and I think guys are to respond to him."
Murphy said his early message to the Padres was simple: play as a team.
"We have to get into a higher level of competition," Murphy said. "How to compete even better. How to give to your teammates. How important giving is. It sounds funny, but it's real. You're in a group setting. How much pain are you willing to go through in order to help out somebody else? It is a great feeling on the other side. There is a freedom on the other side when you give."