New York Met second baseman Daniel Murphy has found himself in the middle of an unexpected controversy because he took a few days off at the start of the season to be with his wife when she gave birth to their first child. When I first heard the news, I didn’t think anything of it because it seems natural for a man who loves his family to want to be with them for such a momentous event.
On top of that, I interviewed Murphy back in 2012 about his relatively new Christian faith. When we got to the topic of God sending us His Son Jesus, Murphy said the following: “I talked with people this off season who are fathers and mothers, and I envy that relationship that they have with their children because I don’t have that yet. When you sit down and talk to someone who is a parent and you describe what it is that God did by sending His son, you almost see this light bulb go off in their head. I envy that. I can’t wait until the day that I’m a father because I feel like, in that moment when I get to hold my son or daughter, I’ll look up to the Lord and say, ‘Wow! I cannot believe what You did for us. And I look forward to that day every day.”
That day finally came on March 31, when his son Noah was born. And though it was a joyous event, Murphy has now been taken to task by some commentators who either actually believe that athletes should prioritize the game over their personal lives in instances like these – or who are just looking to get some free publicity by saying something they know will generate headlines. The fact that it’s controversial for a man to support his wife through the experience of a baby’s birth seems laughably ridiculous. It’s especially true for a humble guy like Murphy.
For instance, when he was asked about the controversy on ESPN, he said:
“I got a couple of text messages about it, so I’m not going to sit here and lie and say I didn’t hear about it,” Murphy said about the on-air criticism from WFAN Radio of his decision. “But that’s the awesome part about being blessed, about being a parent, is you get that choice. My wife and I discussed it, and we felt the best thing for our family was for me to try to stay for an extra day — that being Wednesday — due to the fact that she can’t travel for two weeks.
“It’s going to be tough for her to get up to New York for a month. I can only speak from my experience — a father seeing his wife — she was completely finished. I mean, she was done. She had surgery and she was wiped. Having me there helped a lot, and vice versa, to take some of the load off. … It felt, for us, like the right decision to make.”
Murphy should be applauded for his character, not criticized for it. That character was already on display when I talked to him in the aforementioned interview and asked him about his charity work:
Devoting his time to worthy causes through the “Mets in the Community” program is one of the ways Murphy tries to stay humble and live out his faith. Though he considers them small gestures, he played Santa Claus for some underprivileged kids last Christmas, and took part in a tribute to military families on the TV series, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Murphy explained, “Being in a position where we’re so revered as athletes, I try to ask ‘How can I serve? How can I show my teammates and the people of this city that I’m a servant first, and a baseball player second?’ I’m not going to say I always approach it with a joyful heart because I’m human. But I try to let the Lord work on my heart and open me up for opportunities to serve…[so] that serving becomes the norm.”
Daniel Murphy is a man devoted to service: serving his wife, his family, his team, his fans, and the wider community. He’s a man who’s got his priorities straight. He’ll give his team his best efforts whenever he’s on the field, but sometimes life brings you experiences that are more important than a game. As far as I’m concerned, Murphy hit a home run by making the decision he did. God bless him, his wife, and their new son Noah.