EUGENE, Ore. — After having his best minor league season with the Spokane Indians in 2010, Clark Murphy seemed ready to take the next step in 2011. But before his season ever got started his baseball career was put on hold.
“I had eight, nine, ten missed calls from my family, and a voicemail from my sister,” Murphy said. “She was crying and just saying that we needed to call her back as soon as I could.”
Murphy’s younger brother, Conrad, was on his way home from baseball practice when an 18-wheeler lost control and hit his pick-up truck head on.
“They said he had about a five percent chance of living and if he survived a 60 percent chance of remaining in the vegetable state his whole life. The first three days I went to bed not knowing if I was going to have a brother when I woke up.”
But Conrad’s making a miraculous recovery. After spending a month and a half in a coma and having to re-learn how to walk, he’s back at home, and even taking a class at a community college.
For Clark, it’s a return to baseball after missing essentially all of last year which brought him to Eugene with a whole new perspective.
“I used to think that my life revolved around baseball, but you realize that nothing’s more important in this world than your family.”
“It says something about him,” Emeralds Manager Pat Murphy said.
“Going through what he went through he must really love the game to come out here and play in the minor leagues. You can think you want to play in the minor leagues, but after you’ve done it for three or four years and then to want to come back to it shows your passion for the game.”
The life of a minor leaguer is far from glamorous. All travel is done via bus, often where players get their sleep. Meals come from whatever is open after midnight.
And the pay’s nowhere near that of a major leaguer.
For the journeyman Murphy, now in his fourth full season, it’s a grind.
“It’s like a love hate relationship. You love the game but sometimes you hate it, but that’s the beauty of it. If you make it through it, it can reward you.”