Army Under Secretary returns for first pitch

Murphy, an Iraq War veteran, is former Phillies employee

Army Under Secretary returns for first pitch

PHILADELPHIA -- Before he served in the Iraq War, ran for Congress or became Under Secretary of the Army, Patrick Murphy worked in the Phillies marketing department.

Before even that, Murphy worked security in the raucous 700 Level of Veterans Stadium during Temple University and Philadelphia Eagles football games.

Not even at the Vet did Murphy picture himself standing on the field, the center of attention. But he did just that prior to Monday's Nationals-Phillies game, when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citizens Bank Park in celebration of Memorial Day.

"It's pretty special," Murphy said.

His accent says he grew up in a Northeast Philly rowhouse before Murphy can spit the words out himself. Neither that nor his passion for Philadelphia sports have vanished under the guise of Washington politics.

After returning from Iraq, Murphy in 2006 ran for and won the Congressional seat in Pennsylvania's 8th District. He became the first Iraq veteran elected to Congress and served two terms. In 2015, President Barack Obama tapped Murphy to be Under Secretary of the Army, for which he was sworn in for this year on Jan. 4.

Murphy has become a Washington insider, but he still spends his weekends in Bucks County. More importantly, he's taken what he learned growing up in Northeast Philly and applied it among all of his service.

"That rowhouse mentality of taking care of the person on your left and your right is something the Phillies believe in," Murphy said. "It's the same way we are in the Army to make sure we all come home."

Conner sings God Bless America

As part of Memorial Day celebrations across baseball on Monday, the Phillies recognized veterans with pregame ceremonies, between-innings honors and official U.S. Marine camouflage on their hats and jerseys.

And the Phillies saved their best for one particularly decorated vet. After all, it was the least they could do for an apparent good-luck charm.

"They were cursed when I left," Murphy joked. "But since I came back from Iraq, they've been winning again."

Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.