Home » The Comeback Kid
March 25, 2009 – The University of Houston
David Murphy has yet to get a hit, steal a base or make a play in the field for the Cougar Baseball squad entering the 2009 season, but he’s already made a winning contribution to the program through his battle with leukemia.
Cougar infielder David Murphy started playing baseball when he was only five years old. Growing up, that was his life and once he began playing in high school and highly competitive summer leagues, it was his dream to be recruited to play Division I baseball.
“When I was in high school, I started working hard on getting recruited by somebody,” Murphy says. “I was playing summer ball on a select team, just trying to get seen by universities. Now the dream is to get drafted.”
Choosing the University of Houston to further his baseball career and receive his education was easy for Murphy. He is close to his parents and wanted his family to be able to come and watch him play frequently.
“I like the idea of playing in Houston because it is close to home and I am very close to my family,” Murphy who played at Beaumont’s West Brook High School, explains. “The coaches told me I would have a chance to be an impact player my first year. When they said I could possibly start my freshman year, it was a big deal to me.”
But Murphy didn’t start his freshman year. In fact, he was redshirted. And his decision to attend UH over the many schools that recruited him because of its proximity to his home and family now seems to be destiny considering what the future had in store for him.
Three days after Murphy started class at the University of Houston, his neck began to swell. The initial diagnosis was mononucleosis.
When after a couple of weeks passed and he saw no improvement in his symptoms, he consulted university health officials once more. This time the news for the 18-year-old Murphy was much more serious.
“The doctor told me that I needed to go to the hospital because I may have leukemia.” He recalls. “I remember asking ‘Am I going to be okay?’ because I didn’t even know leukemia was cancer.”
Murphy and his family, accompanied by the UH baseball staff, went to Methodist Hospital that night and were informed that his tests had come back positive for leukemia.
“It was hard on my parents. I tried to stay positive because I knew I could handle it, but I think it was a little harder on them that in was on me,” Murphy says.
The Cougar baseball team makes regular visits to the Texas Children’s Hospital to meet with children who are patients there and sign autographs. Murphy and the team had become close to Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer and because of his familiarity with the hospital, he was able to start treatments the night he found out the news.
“If I would have gone to any other school that recruited me, I would have had to drop out and come to Houston for my treatments. It was almost as if I was meant to be here,” Murphy can now say.
The Cougar couching and support staff also feel that it was destiny that Murphy chose Houston and they are glad that he did.
“When David entered out program we knew that we had a special human being; we just didn’t know how special he would turn out to be,” Traci Cauley, Director of Baseball Operations, says.
“David was literally thrown a curve ball and he showed us that sometimes when things don’t always go our way, you have to pick up the pieces and continue on. He never lost sight of his goals, despite when he was feeling bad.”
As of January 23, 2008, Murphy has been in remission. Once a month, though, he visits Dr. Dreyer and receives blood tests and treatments.
“I am cancer free and in maintenance stage,” he explains. “Basically, I get an infusion once a month with little chemo pills.”
The Cougars are looking to Murphy to be a contributor this season both on the field and off. While going through his medical treatments, continuing to attend class and stay active at baseball practice, he was able to maintain a 3.0 GPA.
Murphy’s courage and strength while facing leukemia helped the team get through any adversities they may have faced on the field, Cauley points out.
“The players were able to look to David for encouragement to overcome hardships,” Cauley says. “Despite how difficult David’s treatments were on him, he was always there to support his teammates.”
This season, Murphy’s goals are very simple. He doesn’t want to blast 20 home runs or even hit .400. He just wants to be in the lineup and play.
“I look at baseball differently now,” Murphy says. “I am just happy to play. I just want to stay out there and be healthy.”