Team members become like a family, particularly when the same players are together for many seasons.
In the case of the Shelton Post 16 American Legion 19U baseball team, there was a true family setting on the diamonds with two father-son/coach-player combinations.
Head coach Tom Murphy’s son Ryan was a member of the team that wrapped up its summer campaign in July. And assistant coach Dave Meyer’s son Hudson also digs into the batter’s box for Post 16.
Ryan Murphy, a 2017 high school graduate, is a student at Fairfield University studying accounting. He plays the infield, outfield and catcher.
Hudson Meyer, an infielder and outfielder, has one year left at Shelton High and is still within the age range of the Legion program.
“It’s cool to play for him. I’ve become a better player and better person overall,” Ryan Murphy said.
Coaches offer pointers and can be tough on players. Parents offer advice, if not demands. Needless to say, it might not always be a walk in the park at times to play with dad as one of your coaches, to which both the elder and younger family members will attest.
Oh, and there is no rule about leaving what went wrong in a particular game or given at bat behind on the field.
“On the car ride home my dad critiqued what I could do better,” said Ryan Murphy, adding that he recognizes the advice was always constructive and meant to make him better. “He’s not the easiest guy to play for, but he knows what helps the team.
“He couldn’t wait to drive,” Tom Murphy joked. “I’m an old-school guy. Having me as a dad is a challenge sometimes.”
Dave Meyer played baseball for many years, eventually bringing his game to the professional level in independent league play. He enjoys imparting his knowledge of the game and doing so with his son as part of the team makes it all the more rewarding.
“Being able to give back and be around him as he plays is a great experience,” Dave Meyer said. “As a father you always want to help him succeed. You always try to make them better.”
Dave Meyer said, somewhat jokingly, that it isn’t so easy for his son to have him in the dugout during the season.
“Hudson gets a little bit of a break when he plays in high school. He doesn’t have to deal with me,” the coach said with a laugh.
“I feel like it makes me try just a little harder. He’ll tell me to get two hits in a game and I’ll try to get three,” Hudson Meyer said.
The Meyer father-son era may continue, but it’s over for the Murphys with Ryan aging out of the program.
Tom Murphy has coached both Ryan and his brother, Patrick, for many years.
“I’m going to miss it a lot. We play a lot. I’ve played baseball my entire life. I love the game,” Ryan Murphy said.
The Legion team played a busy truncated schedule with 24 games in just five weeks, including some doubleheaders.
Tom Murphy almost didn’t coach this summer but stepped in and coached when he was needed. The head coach gives it his all with encouragement for team members even when the team was on the short end of a lopsided game and down to its final strike, and constructive criticism meant to make these developing players reach their potential.
Will he be back in the dugout next summer?
“I would rather make that decision well after the season ends because the knee-jerk reaction will be based on a long hot summer stretch of games that is exhausting. I felt the same way last year. So, you never know,” Tom Murphy said.