Tyler Murphy’s Wednesday afternoon return to baseball was successful, emotional, and inspirational.
Murphy snapped a 10 month hiatus from the game as the starting pitcher for the Stanislaus Cardinals, taking to the mound for four innings and one batter. Having sat on the sidelines since the August boating accident that mangled his right hand and leg, there was some question as to how he would perform in his return.
But after a few warm-up pitches, there was no question that while Murphy’s body may have been damaged nearly a year ago, his talent had not escaped him. His pitches had heat and they were accurate, enough so that when he walked away from the mound he did so with only two allowed hits, one walk, and no allowed runs while recording one strike out.
“It was awesome. I’ve been waiting for so long ever since it happened and just to be out here again, I can’t explain it,” Murphy said. “I felt good, I kind of surprised myself.”
Playing with a knee brace to correct his drop foot—he’s currently healing from a recent nerve graft to help restore his mobility—Murphy was not only able to heave pitches from the mound, he was also able to assume defensive responsibilities like covering first base and play an offensive role as a batter as he notched a sacrifice fly for an RBI.
“We weren’t’ sure what we were going to get or what it was going to be like, but we know he’s been throwing in the bullpen since December and he’s had some excellent rehab and therapy as far as people working with him, especially at the college level, throughout this whole process and that’s really helped him get back into the kind of shape he’s in,” Cardinals head coach Bobby Swedberg said of Murphy.
While his numbers were impressive considering his injuries and prolonged absence from the game, Murphy seemed more pleased with the restored sense of camaraderie shared by him and his teammates. He was focused throughout his time on the mound, but he was also hard fought to contain his happiness as a wide smile flashed across his face early and often while on the field.
“I’ve known almost all these guys and just to be around them and hanging out and having fun, you can’t beat it,” Murphy said.
“It’s pretty amazing for us. We’ve been waiting for this day for the last 10 months,” Murphy’s mother Lori said.
With Murphy’s help, the Cardinals went on to beat the Stanislaus Royals 10-5. Now, Murphy is ready to continue his comeback through the U18 Babe Ruth season where he hopes to continue his progress and recovery and put himself in position to realize his dream to play college baseball.
“I thought he threw excellent. He located his pitches fairly well and let his defense work, and that really showed that he could be successful on the mound,” Swedberg said.
“He just wants to be able to continue his collegiate dreams of playing ball and he’s going to do whatever it takes to make that happen,” Lori Murphy said.
No matter where Murphy’s road goes from here, his climb back to the mound after being dealt a blow that would demoralize most is a shining example of what can be achieved with a combination of hard work, dedication, and passion.
Murphy himself credits those around him, however, as he’s acknowledged that his return was not a selfish feat but one born out of community.
“All this support through everything has been amazing. I appreciate everything with all the world,” Murphy said. “It’s definitely a driving factor, all the support behind me, and I’ll cherish it for the rest of my life.”