Arizona series a homecoming for Murphy

Arizona series a homecoming for Murphy

PHOENIX -- Arizona provided Pat Murphy with many of his favorite memories in a 28-year career as a coach and manager. It also gave him one of the greatest heartbreaks.

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But it was that heartbreak that started Murphy down the road to where he is now: interim manager of the Padres.

Despite saying he doesn't have time in his new position to think about the future or the past, Murphy on Friday let all those memories flood back.

A day after he earned his first win as a Major League manager and slept in his own bed in Tempe, Ariz., Murphy fell back in a familiar routine. He rekindled many of the relationships he built with the local media during his 15 seasons as head coach at Arizona State.

Murphy on Friday asked reporters about their wives and kids -- by name. He didn't just offer handshakes, he doled out hugs.

Murphy accumulated 629 victories at ASU, four Pac-10 titles and four appearances in the College World Series before he was forced to resign in November 2009 amid an NCAA investigation.

"I was crushed," Murphy said. "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 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.'"

Murphy at that point might not have thought about one day being a big league manager. But he had months before, during a 5 a.m. walk in his Tempe neighborhood with his older brother Dan on the day ASU hosted Clemson in a 2009 NCAA Super Regional.

"[Dan] said, 'You're stupid,'" Murphy recounted. "'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."

Padres hire Murphy

Murphy helped 27 former players get to the Majors -- including 13 current players, the 13th being Brett Wallace whom the Padres called up Friday.

Many of those players, like Kole Calhoun, Jason Kipnis, Eric Sogard, Ike Davis and Dustin Pedroia, sent Murphy congratulatory texts this week. As did former Padres manager Bud Black after Thursday's victory.

"I'm really happy for him after everything he's gone through the last five years," said D-backs catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, who played for Murphy at ASU. "I loved playing for him and know all he wants to do is win.

"Guys like to play for him and they get excited to play. He gets them motivated. I think that's what a manager has to do, is motivate his players. Everyone in the big leagues is pretty talented. So I think the managers that motivate their players the best tend to get the best results."

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.