Sunday, March 29, 2015
Genuine. Nice. Humble. Loyal. Brave. Unselfish. Thoughtful. Respected. If someone has a
few of those characteristics many of us would probably consider them to be a great person.
If a person contains all of those characteristics that someone would be considered to be just
like Tim Murphy.
Murphy served in the Norwalk Police Department for 33 years and helped protect a
community that bordered his hometown of New Canaan, CT. However, when it came to crime,
Norwalk was about as far away from New Canaan as the Golden Gate Bridge. The toughest
part of it, South Norwalk is like a mini-Bronx, riddled with stabbings, shootings, domestic
violence, and drug deals gone bad.
When Murphy, 54, turned in his badge and gun on February 26, he had a pristine and sterling
record and was one of the most respected and well-liked cops on the force. He had risen through
the ranks to be a lieutenant and left without ever being harmed on the job. Murphy and his
lovely wife, Kimberly, had already built a house in Florida and had big plans for retirement.
But just two days after closing the book on his law enforcement career, Murphy got terrible
news. He had stage 4 cancer.
We all know life is not fair, but this is beyond cruel. Tim Murphy is as kind a human
being as there is on this earth. He lived a life of protecting and serving a community, putting
the welfare of others ahead of himself, yet, there was nothing to protect him from cancer,
no one to shield him from a disease that rarely loses.
I heard about Murphy's diagnosis while working at my news station. While casually perusing
the rundown I saw a story slugged, "Norwalk cop cancer". I clicked open the link to see if I
knew who it was. I had covered the police blotter five days a week for nearly seven months
and I had become acquainted with many of the officers who worked there.
When I read the name, "Tim Murphy", my jaw dropped and my heart sank. I said to myself,
"This can't be true."
Unfortunately, it was.
I've known Murphy for several years and we have many mutual friends in New Canaan.
We often ran into one another at a local health club, trading funny stories about the news
and law enforcement business, or I'd run into him on the "mean streets of New Canaan",
as I often joked.
The police and Norwalk community held a hockey game to benefit Murphy on Saturday
night with well-over 600 people coming out to show their love and support for Murphy. I
needed to say hello and show mine as well. He is everything good about the human
race and society in general. He has a heart of gold and is as genuine as they come.
Murphy, who loves hockey and is passionate about it, had his uniform from the men's
team he built, presented to him. Trinity Pawling, where Murphy matriculated after
spending his first two years at New Canaan High School, gave him his old hockey
jersey as well.
Like all hockey players, Murphy is tough. He won't give up or give in to cancer and
made it clear of his intention when he spoke to the people who were there to support him:
"With you standing by my side, I will beat this thing."
Knowing Murphy as I do, I have little doubt he will come out victorious in
his battle with cancer.
Fight, Murphy, Fight. We love you.
Friday, March 27, 2015
Once as neat and clean as their pristine white home basketball uniforms, UNC's reputation
recently got soiled by an academic scandal that turned the Carolina blue sky over Chapel
Hill into a big, black cloud.
Leave it to Dean Smith to make it a sunny day for Tar Heel Nation once again, even in
death. Yes, the former coaching legend may be a God after all.
Just hours before the school's game against Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament, it
was discovered that Smith willed $200 to every letter winner that played for him
during his 36 years of coaching at UNC. Yes, every single one of them from Tommy
Kearns, a self- made millionaire to self-made billionaire, Michael Jordan received
a $200 check. And every player from every tax-bracket below them got one, too.
This random act of kindness by Smith embodied everything he was all about: thoughtful,
caring, loyal, generous, but most of all, class. His class and style was a big reason why
the University of North Carolina had the reputation it did. No, he didn't build UNC, but
he helped make it a place nearly every high school senior in the country wanted to
For more than three decades, Smith was the face of the university and the most
powerful man on campus. He was the beacon of the school, the guiding light all Tar
Heels followed and looked up to.
That light dimmed after Smith retired and the scent of big money intoxicated the
athletic program, causing it to make a slew of bad choices and decisions. The
stain caused by an ensuing scandal may take some time to rinse away, but Smith
may have truly started the cleansing process with his act of generosity and kindness.
In a world polluted with greed and people often asking, "what about me?", Smith's
selfless and thoughtful act provides another one of life's lessons he often gave to
his players: It truly is better to give than receive.
Dean Smith has made everyone who attended and graduated from the University of
North Carolina truly proud to be a Tar Heel once again. The skies over Chapel Hill
are Carolina blue today, a ray of sunshine beams through the ivory-clouds from above.
Thank you, Dean Smith. Thank you.
Monday, March 16, 2015
I am much closer to starting my next Ironman than the finish of my last one. There are
less than five months until I begin another grueling 140.6 mile journey through the
Adirondacks in upstate New York and I am using the last 25 yards of the 2014 Ironman
in Lake Placid to motivate me and get me through my training.
The last 25 yards of my first Ironman last July were quite simply, the greatest 25 yards
of my life.
In my 50 years of earth, never has such a short distance contained so much joy, happiness,
exhilaration, satisfaction, and yes, even gratitude. I didn't set a record, win anything, or
qualify for the Ironman in Kona, but those 25 yards down the finishing chute turned out
to be one of the greatest experiences of my life.
The journey to that moment started about 7 months earlier when I began training for my
first Ironman in earnest. I didn't follow any programs, hire a coach, or have a set work out
schedule. With work and the everyday experiences of life, I worked out when I could.
If I felt the need to bike a 100 miles, I'd do it. If I felt I needed to swim three miles every
day for a week, I did that. I ran a lot until I got plantar fasciitis, which was the worst thing
I've ever experienced during my career in sports.
My training wasn't scientific, but I can assure you, I worked my ass off, investing a great
amount of sweat equity into the 2014 Ironman in Lake Placid. My goal wasn't just to finish,
I was a decent athlete and too much of a competitor to be satisfied with just picking up
a medal for getting in under the 17 hours required to get it.
I wanted to finish strong and do it with a big smile on my face. I considered
the Ironman to be part of life's journey with challenges, obstacles, and a test to see what
you are truly made of. I envisioned when I crossed the finish line it would be
one helluva celebration in the greatest venue on the Ironman circuit.
Lake Placid is a magical place and one of my favorite places to be in the summer. It
has great charm, character, and of course, history. The finish to the event is on the
same Olympic oval where Eric Heiden wowed the world by winning five gold medals in
speedskating in the 1980 Winter Games. Just off to the right is the hockey arena where
the United States put their signature on the "Miracle on Ice." All of it, along with the
clean air of the Adirondacks, was intoxicating.
When I entered the oval after more than 140 miles of swimming, biking, and running,
I did what I also do when I'm about to finish a race. I had thoughts of my late father
and said to myself, "Dad, let's bring it on home." We finish every race together. When I
saw the flames of the mini-Olympic cauldron burning brightly about fifty yards ahead
of me, I remembered what an Ironman veteran said to me just three days before:
"Make sure you enjoy the last 25 yards of the race. Don't sprint to the finish to
improve your time. If you do it right, you'll remember it for the rest of your life."
When I passed the Olympic cauldron and headed down the straightaway to the finish,
I got a mile-wide grin on my face and raised my arms in triumph. After all the hours
of pain and buckets of sweat, this was the time to celebrate and enjoy it. When I hit
the Ironman "mats" which signified the start of the 25-yard finishing chute I got the
I had seen thousands of people finish the Ironman on television over the years and
it felt like an out of body experience. It was downright cool.
I kept my hands raised until I hit the finish line and then threw them down in
celebration. I immediately looked for my sister, Kara, and her family. I knew they'd
be right there at the finish. I wish you knew how much Kara means to me. She pushed
me, inspired me, and has helped me in so many ways. I love her and to have her
and her little kids at the finish line made it all the more memorable.
Plus, she is a great photographer who captured all these moments that I will never forget.
When I finished, the event volunteers tin foil thing on me, which I'm
not sure what it helps for, then I went and had a joyous celebration with Kara, her
great husband, Chad, and her kids. Tired? I wasn't. Exhausted? Are you kidding me?
I was on this adrenaline-fueled, natural high. It was spine-tingling and amazing. After
140 miles, those last 25 yards were the greatest I've ever experienced in my life.
I'm doing the Ironman again on July 27. It will be another challenge and I'm not
sure I'll be able to duplicate the feelings of last year. But that's OK, the finish of
my first Ironman was perfect and perfection only happens every so often.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
"Did you hear about Pete Bock?"
When I received an email two weeks ago from a member of the UNC baseball family
containing those six words, I knew it couldn't be good. With Pete Bock being close to
70-years-old, I naturally thought the worst.
Lindsay Wilkinson, the wife of a former teammate at Carolina and a friend of
Bock, relayed to me that the "worst" thing didn't happen to Bock, but sadly, it was
pretty darn close.
After an ice storm hit North Carolina, Bock, who lives near Raleigh, slipped and fell
in his backyard. His wife, Cindy, rushed to his side only to fall and break her hip.
Hearing this was like a punch to the gut that sucked nearly every ounce of oxygen from
my entire body. It was sad, tragic, and seemingly so unfair. Anyone who has walked this
earth long enough knows that life can be cruel and terrible tragedies occur everyday, but
this just wasn't right.
Bock hit his head in the fall and is paralyzed below the waist. He underwent a second
surgery last Monday for a tracheotomy. In an instant, his life, which has been an amazing
one, has been changed forever. I am praying the man I affectionately call, "The Reverend"
pulls through and stands on his feet once again.
Bock is simply a beautiful man, one of great character, honor, and respect. He's one of
those guys who will not only give you the shirt off his back, but his entire wardrobe as
well. He'd tell you to keep it, too. Smart, witty, and funny, Bock is the consummate
family man who adores and cherishes his wife, Cindy, every single day.
If there is a "Mr. Baseball" in North Carolina, Bock is it. He helped start the Durham
Bulls minor-league franchise as the general manager in 1980. He had been an umpire
in the Carolina League where the Bulls, thanks to the hit movie, "Bull Durham," became
the gold standard of minor-league franchises.
Bock would later become the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates AAA franchise
in Hawaii and in 1997, founded the Coastal Plain League, a collegiate baseball summer
league that lists Kevin Youkilis and Justin Verlander among its alums.
I first met Bock on the set of "Bull Durham" in September of 1997. He was hired to
be the baseball consultant, picking all the players and casting them into their roles
in the movie. Bock made sure that every single baseball scene looked realistic
and conducted a two-week camp for the likes of Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins to
make sure they knew how to look, act, and play like real minor-league players.
OK, so Robbins really couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat, but his personality
was perfect to play the role of Nuke LaLoosh.
Bock was responsible for selecting me for the scene that saw Costner, as Crash Davis,
tip me off as to what pitch was coming. I really didn't think much of it at the time for
I knew there was a chance the scene would end up on the cutting room floor, but the
home run I hit would follow me around forever.
Bock appeared in the movie as well, playing the reverend who married Jenny and
a member of the Durham Bulls during a ceremony at home plate. When we left the
set after the director yelled, "that's a wrap" for the final time, none of us had any idea
that "Bull Durham" would become the baseball classic that it is today.
|Bock and Roy Williams|
Bock and I, both UNC graduates, kept in touch over the years and we'd often banter
back and forth on Facebook. I'm a Carolina graduate who is forever grateful for my
time in Chapel Hill. Bock is one of those guys who forever eats, sleeps, and breathes
everything Tar Heels.
He's donated a big chunk of money to UNC over the years and always shows up to
football, basketball, and baseball games dressed from head to toe in Carolina blue.
When UNC wins, Bock flashes his mile-wide grin. When they lose, he feels the pain
for days to come.
Pete Bock is the type of person you meet once and never forget. He is everything
right about being a man, a father, a husband, and a friend. I love Pete Bock as if he
was my own brother.
The man who has lived his life the right way, was dealt a very bad hand a few weeks
ago. Knowing Bock as I do, he will find a way to turn it into a straight flush.
"The Reverend" has the good Lord on his side and I, like so many of his friends, are
praying for him to pull through.
We love you, Pete Bock.