Cavalry catcher's passion for Princeton
Canberra Cavalry catcher, Jack Murphy, wearing the military-style uniform that the team will wear as a fund-raiser for Legacy. Photo: Graham Tidy
Sporting a shaggy hairdo and unkempt facial hair, Canberra Cavalry star Jack Murphy doesn't fit the stereotypical image of a Princeton scholar.
And while he admits he's more a student of baseball than academia, the catcher wants to honour his father's wish by graduating from one of America's most exclusive colleges.
Six years ago, the Murphy clan was rocked to its core when Jack's father, Michael, died of a heart attack in his sleep at their Florida home, aged 60.
Then only 18, Murphy was suddenly the only male role model for his three sisters and mother Keely.
But he knew exactly what his driven father would have wanted him to do - get on with it.
Murphy has one more year remaining on his history major, and graduating will be an achievement he will dedicate to his father.
''My dad's dream was always for me to go to Princeton,'' Murphy told The Canberra Times on Thursday.
''He loved baseball and wanted me to be the best baseball player I could be and get to the big leagues, but he'd always tell me what he really wanted was for me to get an education.
''I wasn't 100 per cent about going there, being from Florida and going to New Jersey, but there was never any question when it [his father's death] happened what I was supposed to do.''
Murphy fondly remembers the daily practice sessions with his father at a field near their house.
It was this period where the 24-year-old developed a love for the game, and he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009.
He hopes to graduate from America's minor leagues to Major League Baseball within two years.
''He was the one who got me hooked on baseball, he had such a passion for it and I've never met someone who loved the game as much as him,'' Murphy said of his father.
''I can still hear him say 'you're not hitting enough, you've got to get out there'.
''Some people thought it was overkill, that I was going to get burnt out, but we both just really loved the game and I wouldn't take back any of those times for anything.''
The tragedy meant the solidly built Murphy was thrust into the father-figure role for his sisters sooner than expected.
''There's definitely been some times where I've had to run some boyfriends off and take care of some problems,'' he says, laughing.
''Usually it's just a threat because they all know Joanna's brother's a big guy, so if they hear that I'm coming for them that's about all it takes.
''Do I wish it was different? Sure. But I do enjoy being there for them at those certain times.''
Murphy doesn't plan on hanging up the glove any time soon.
But when he does, he hopes his book smarts will keep him involved in the game.
''A lot of people in my position would make the transition into managing a team or something like that, but for me if I stay in baseball it will probably be a front office role,'' he said.
''The fact I went to Princeton with that degree and my knowledge from playing baseball for a certain number of years, hopefully I'll be able to do that.''
■ THIS WEEKEND
Canberra Cavalry v Adelaide Bite at Narrabundah Ballpark (3pm and 6pm Saturday; 1pm Sunday).