The biographical information on the statistics sheet of Aberdeen IronBirds catcher Tanner Murphy states he was born in Phoenix, Ariz., and graduated from high school in Glendale, Ariz. It was at the latter where he hit .370 and had 26 RBIs in his senior season and it led to him being selected in the 22nd round of the 2010 major league draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
However, some of Murphy's most important baseball education was provided during his pre-school years in Jamestown and particularly at Diethrick Park.
Last week he returned to his "old school" when the IronBirds had a three-game New York-Penn League series with the Jamestown Jammers.
From the dugout steps, Aberdeen catcher Tanner Murphy surveys Diethrick Park, which was like his second home when growing up.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
In 1995, Murphy's parents had divorced and his mother, Kim, came to Jamestown for a "fresh start" and enrolled in the nursing program at Jamestown Community College. Murphy and his mom lived for a year with Kim's Aunt Bonnie and then they moved to a place of their own near Jamestown Community College. That's when Murphy began studying baseball because he discovered Diethrick Park was a stone's throw from the JCC campus.
"I remember I came to every single game," he said about attending the Jammers games with his mother.
But that was after he spent most of the day at Diethrick Park watching the team work out.
"I used to drive my little four-wheel truck over every single day," he said. "I was here every single day to watch everything."
"I remember there was one game there was something going on and I couldn't go," Murphy said. "I decided to take my little four-wheeler and I drove up here myself."
A pretty bold move for a 4- or 5-year-old. But what Murphy didn't know was, "She was walking behind me."
Murphy told these stories while sitting in Diethrick Park watching the rain fall at the stadium he considered his second home as a youngster.
"I still have three bats from back in the day from the team," he said. "I used to sit up over there (as he pointed to the third-base line bleachers) and when the players went through I'd get a bat."
But those were usually broken bats, except for one memorable night.
"I always remember there was one guy, I don't remember if he was a pitcher or a position player, and he was standing there one day and asked randomly if I could get a bat, '' Murphy said. "He went back (to the clubhouse) and got me a bat. I was in shock."
He added, "I've actually been inside that clubhouse. I don't remember what it looks like, but I'm on the other side of it (in the visitors' clubhouse) and playing against them. It's pretty crazy."
Because he was so young, Murphy said he doesn't remember a lot of Jammers he watched play in the 1990s.
"I remember Gabe Kapler, who played here," he said about an outfielder who began his pro career in Jamestown in 1995." That's one of the only main names I remember."
But Diethrick Park is exactly how he remembered it.
"It's definitely a crazy trip," Murphy said. "All the lights are the exact same, the scoreboards are all the exact same, nothing's changed which is even crazier about it. I had never actually been on the field and when I got out there I was kind of in shock."
It's in Jamestown where Murphy also began playing baseball, mainly on the softball field next to Diethrick Park. And at an early age he showed talent. His mom was pitching to him one day while a couple of men were watched and they were impressed with his swing. Then they were shocked when they discovered Murphy was only 4 or 5 years old.
"We thought he was like 10 years old," they said.
Soon his mom discovered what baseball meant to her son.
"It wasn't like I liked it, I loved it," Murphy said.
He began to play organized baseball when he returned to Arizona, where his mom received her bachelors and masters degrees in nursing. And how did he become a catcher?
"It just kind of happened," he said. "I used to always like the gear. I always liked putting on the gear and I got the ball every single time, so it was pretty good."
After his successful high school career, Murphy was planning to continue playing at a junior college. However, when the Orioles drafted him, he couldn't pass it up.
"I went to Florida (to the Gulf Coast League) right when I was 17," he said. "The first time I saw a guy throwing 95 (mph) and I was so young, it was definitely and eye-opener."
Murphy spent his first three seasons in the GCL before being moved up to the NY-P League this season.
"When I was drafted I never knew our short-season A ball team was in the New York-Penn League," he said. "Somebody mentioned it to me."
In June he found out Aberdeen would be playing in Jamestown and thought, "Oh my gosh, I'm going to get to go play there."
That was when his mom and grandmother started booking flights to be here along with other family members still in the area. However, they didn't get to see Murphy play because he was on the disabled list with an arm injury suffered while batting.
"It was definitely frustrating," Murphy said about not being able to play in Jamestown. "It was kind of a freak accident; it kind of irritated me."
And it was just one of many, which is why in four seasons of pro ball he has played in only 62 games.
"I've had some struggles with elbow surgery and then I had my appendix removed," he said. "I should be healthy soon by the middle of August and hopefully I'll get to play."
Murphy has played only six games in the NY-P League this season, but has seen plenty of stadiums. In addition to Aberdeen's 6,300-seat Ripken Stadium, he has been to other modern facilities at Brooklyn and Staten Island. But he still prefers Diethrick Park, where he first witnessed NY-P League baseball.
"I still love it here, it's definitely different,'' he said. ''I do appreciate it, I think more than some of our other players. I love the stadium no matter how old it is."
Speaking of old, that doesn't refer to Murphy. This is his fourth season of professional baseball and he just turned 21. That's when a lot of pro baseball careers begin, so he's not letting his delays because of injuries bother him.
"I want to get to the big leagues and I know I can,'' he said. ''I just need to stay healthy. I'm just going to keep trucking along."
And he'll do that always with memories of Jamestown.