Tonawanda News — Most people that walk in North Tonawanda sports circles know the name Tom Murphy.
The architect of the NT softball dynasty of the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s, Murphy revolutionized the game in Western New York. Larry Lash, one of Murphy’s mentors and long-time coach at Wilson, said ‘T.K.’ Murphy was “the” coach in Section VI for many years.
“His teams were almost always the team to beat and the teams that no one wanted to play in Sectionals,” Lash said in an email. “He was one of the first coaches in our area to understand and utilize the short game and slap game. His teams forced you to change your defense and play the short game to perfection (defensively) if you had any chance to win. He just made everyone else better just to keep up and/or catch up.”
Murphy racked up 553 career wins at North Tonawanda, along with 14 Niagara Frontier League titles, nine Section VI Class A championships, three regional crowns and a state title in 1988. To celebrate his historic career, the New York State High School Hall of Fame will induct him as part of its 2013 class this afternoon in Herkimer.
In his time on the NT bench, Murphy characterized himself as a coach that was demanding and tough on his players. There were many reasons for his departure in 2009, the most prominent was the change in culture.
“I was so demanding and my feeling was that if you come out for this team you better make this a priority,” he said. “It’s No. 3 on your list — it’s family, it’s religion and (softball) is next. If you can’t do that there are so many other kids that want to be here, then go do other things. (Toward the end), I don’t think kids were willing to make that sacrifice anymore.”