This is the traditional dead period for high school sports, during which players and coaches get a chance to leave their respective sports behind to pursue other interests.
But baseball is never truly left behind in the Patrick Murphy household, and the Newport Harbor High Coach is preparing to watch his 12-year-old son, Braden, compete for Los Alamitos Youth Baseball Bronco Division All-Stars in the Bronco World Series, beginning Thursday night in Los Alamitos.
Los Alamitos received its bid by hosting the World Series and will open the double-elimination bracket against North Carolina on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.. The event represents the end of a monumental baseball summer for the Murphy family. It also brings the elder Murphy full circle with his youth baseball experience.
"I played shortstop in the Little League World Series and Braden will play shortstop in the Bronco World Series on Thursday," said Patrick Murphy, who was a leading contributor to the Cypress Little League squad that reached the United States championship game in Williamsport, Pa. in 1990.
"It has definitely gone full circle," said Patrick Murphy, who noted that he reflects back upon his World Series experience often.
"It has been 23 summers and that group of [Cypress Little League] kids that went on that journey with me are still today, people that I depend on as good friends of mine," said Patrick Murphy, who lives in the same Cypress neighborhood in which he grew up. "A lot of them are still in the community. One of my best friends from that team was just in town last week from Texas. Our families went out to dinner together and we took pictures. It has been 23 years and we still have such an affection for each other, because of that [World Series] experience we went through together. It has been so exciting to see my son be a part of this, knowing that he might have that same relationship with these guys down the road."
Most of the Los Alamitos Bronco All-Stars roster includes players who play for BOLD, a fall travel ball team coached by Patrick Murphy in all four years of its existence. BOLD is an acronym for Boys Out Living a Dream, Murphy said.
That dream included a memorable trip earlier this summer to a tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., site of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"[BOLD] played eight games against teams from eight different states," Patrick Murphy said of the tournament, during which the team lived in quarters with their teammates near historic Doubleday Field, located near the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame museum was, of course, a dream destination for Patrick Murphy, who said he met his wife, Crystal, while he was umpiring a game in which her brother was playing when Murphy was 19.
"I should have been paying more attention to balls and strikes that day," he said with a laugh. "But she had my attention early on and we've been together ever since. We'll be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary next month."
Patrick Murphy said his wife, also a baseball enthusiast, was along for the journey back east, which began with a trip to Fenway Park, included the tournament in Cooperstown and ended with a visit to Yankee Stadium. The trip also included Patrick and Crystal's 7-year-old son, Gavin, who, of course, also plays the game.
"We really enjoyed the Hall of Fame trip," Patrick Murphy said. The whole [museum] was so overwhelming, I just took it all in. It was a dream come true for somebody who has heard about it for so long. I just enjoyed every minute of it. They kind of had to pull me out of there. It was one of those things where my wife was saying, 'Honey, we've got to go,' and I was saying 'Just another five minutes.'"
Murphy said he will try to enjoy Braden's World Series games from the stands. He has managed his son's regular-season team the last two years and has typically been an assistant coach on his all-star teams. He helped out again with this year's all-star squad, but he was not officially an assistant coach.
Youth teams typically put their best players at shortstop and Braden, who is a switch-hitter, obviously fits that bill for Los Alamitos. Patrick Murphy said Braden will also play third base.
"[Braden] has played soccer, basketball and flag football, and he definitely has a passion for baseball," Patrick Murphy said. "He could tell you who the left-handed reliever for the Washington Nationals is. He knows every player on every [major league] team and he can imitate the batting stances of many of them."
The elder Murphy said he has learned to regulate coaching mode and dad mode with his boys and that coaching youth baseball has helped him become a better coach in the high school ranks.
"I'm more empathetic to what parents go through and I want to be there for their [high school] kids," Murphy said. "As I start to think about what my son's high school experience will be like, it means the world to me and I want to make sure that I put forth an experience for Newport Harbor families that I would want my kids to go through."
Murphy said the Sailors are coming off their most successful summer ever and he is excited about the 2014 season, which will be his fifth at the helm.
But first, he will focus on Braden and the Los Alamitos All-Stars.
"For me, its hard to fathom how time flies by," Patrick Murphy said. "To think this group of young men that my son signed up with four years ago when they were little-bitty dudes just learning so much about the game and starting to fall in love with it are one weekend away from becoming Pony (ages 13-14) baseball players and one step closer to high school ... To see how fast these four years have gone, makes you want to cherish every day."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun