Player: Brehan Murphy
Team: Hamburg Stealers
Position: 3rd, SS
T/B - R/R
Stealer since: 2003, #14
baseballEBM caught up with the full time model, weekend ball player Brehan Murphy after a recent game to learn more about his last 14 years abroad.
How’d you start playing ball in Germany?
I had played baseball at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. I was kind of done with the game for a couple of years. I was living in Ketchum, Idaho working as a ski instructor in Sun Valley and just enjoying life, when a modeling agent discovered me. I jumped at the opportunity. I thought that was my ticket to learning some different languages and broadening my perspective on life.
After the 2002 Men’s Journal cover my agent was contacted by some agencies in Europe and Germany was really calling. They’d set up some jobs for me near Hamburg. I decided I’d follow some modeling stuff and started traveling with that. I’d been to Europe for school. I’d studied in London, so I was kind of happy to get back and experience some of the culture. During my semester abroad I’d played soccer for the school team, traveled extensively and enjoyed it immensely.
I got over here and was invited out to the field right when I arrived. I watched a couple of games and I took part in the practices. We kept in contact while I lived in Milan that fall and, come spring, they said, ‘Come on up!’ so I came up and I lived with a real legend, Ole Drews. He was a big time player in the late ‘90s and just a good guy, a great welcomer to playing baseball in Germany. Michael Wäller was still on the team and so we had humor until the end of time. I really liked the guys and so that kind of spawned it. Of course at that time we were all working, doing our thing. Over the years we’ve gotten more and more focused on trying to be a competitive team putting in the work and the effort.
What year did you start playing for Hamburg?
I’ve been playing in the German league since 2003. I was coming in the summer, doing my thing, playing, and then taking off between seasons. I was in and out of Germany for many years before I started living here full time.
I think it was about 2012, I got the paperwork and started extending my stays and working on maybe taking a visa. I was really cautious about spending all my time over here but I had a good place. I ended up getting an apartment from a legendary pitcher Frank Stadler. It worked out well and I enjoyed the life in Hamburg. It’s an amazing Northern European city. It has a lot to offer as far as off the ball field time, which is you know five days a week.
I managed to mix in some practice according to the work schedule and I still enjoy it. I think it’s a fun game. You’re moving around. It really gets you outside and I think, after a long winter in Germany, you’ve gotta be outside.
Are you doing any coaching?
I had coaching duties about 2005 but you know I still wanted to do my playing days. Jens has come in since then and he’s done a great job. They’ve done so much for baseball and they’ve put a lot of effort into this clubhouse and talking to the city and getting the support. It’s really good for the community. There’s a lot of kids programs. I think that’s very important. So, yah of course, if you’re around the field you always have guys come up to you, ‘I’m having trouble doing this.’ So you get on the tee and work. There’s still that communal contact and giving out information and stuff like that.
You’re the Veteran
Exactly. When I first got there I worked out with the junior program a little bit. Most of those guys grew up. They’ve been to the Bundesliga and a lot of them are retired already. Hey, they’re gone but I’m still here!
And you’re the team captain?
I don’t know if that’s been established. I was technically the captain last year so I don’t know right now. I think people kind of just assume it. I’m also the captain of the van, usually driving.
You’ve played different positions. Is there a favorite or have they changed over time?
I think you just grow to appreciate being in the lineup. I mean, getting on the gear and getting behind the plate’s a bit tough these days but I enjoy 3rd and short. Those are great positions. I played a little 1st in university, on my days off when I was behind the plate and maybe wanted to give my legs a rest. I played 2nd as a little kid. One thing I never really played a lot of was playing in the outfield. And that’s okay. That’s a specialty. I think those guys really like being alone out there a lot. I don’t know if they meditate.
Baseball can be very zen.
I think that’s why people like it. This is a little bit more of an atmosphere where the moment comes late in the game when there are two men on, like today. We had a great moment, down two, two men on, one out. That gets the crowd kind of excited because they know there’s something on the line there. Otherwise you’ve got time to get up, go get a beer or a coke. Have a burger and talk to people. There’s a little bit of pause so you can chat and you’re outside in the sun. In soccer your outside in the cold and you’ve only got 90 minutes.
What have been some great experiences for you as a fan?
I remember walking into the King Dome for the first time. The leather ball looked so, in a way so much less. The way they used their body and the power they had. In those times we had Gaylord Perry pitching. We were at his 300th win and yeah, a lot of Griffey, Jr.
Griffy was fun to watch.
The Kid. Such a good guy.
You knew he’d never miss it because he grabbed onto every single second when he played. That’s such a special thing.
I think Ichiro is one of those guys. I was at the game where he tied the hits record for the year and when he broke it. I was home in the fall because we were done here. Those were moments it was amazing just to put that kind of thing in your pocket.
Yeah, that makes baseball really special. It’s a classic game with the uniforms. It’s a mathematical game with the dimensions. There’s a strategy to it. It’s a team game but everybody has to do their individual thing too. The movements are quite nice.
I heard in a movie once, ‘A man with a rock and a man with a stick.’ It’s pretty self-explanatory. What little kid didn’t try to pick up a stick and hit a rock that another kid threw? My mom always says, ‘Boys with their sticks.’
Now that you’ve been here a while, do you still enjoy traveling?
It’s amazing to be able to skip into a new country in an hour’s time. Seattle is my favorite place to visit when I get time off. My family is there and it has everything a place can provide for living. Although Hamburg is a close second, I do miss the landscape of home sometimes. Hamburg is very flat and Seattle is surrounded by mountains and hills. There is always a view of the natural surroundings from any place in the city. There are some hidden treasures where I go hang out in the EU but there is no place like home; especially when you get lucky enough to grow up in a city like Seattle.
I found some photos of you playing guitar. Was that work or do you play?
I started picking it up when I was in grade school a little bit, electric guitar of course. You know when you’re a little kid you just want to be a rock star. Then I got into university and there was actually a guitar class. I took Spanish guitar for a semester. I had a great teacher. I think that makes the most difference, if you have a good teacher then you just suck it in and, so I got pretty okay at it. The guy had such a good personality that it really stuck. I still know some Flamenco. Lately I’ve been playing a Les Paul Gibson, kind of messing around because, there’s a band I really got a kick out of called The Growlers. I was trying to learn a few riffs from them. Yeah, I definitely like playing licks on the guitar.
Anything you want the world to know?
Treat each other with compassion, love and kindness. Lead with your heart. The rest will follow.
The world’s a good place, if you make it a good place. Before you make any big decisions make sure you sit on it for a while. Sometimes those big decisions figure themselves out.
With baseball you always have to take the good with the bad. You lose with class you win with class because you know both things are going to happen, even to the best of the team. Even the best player’s going to strike out. Even the best team’s is going to have a bad day. The worst guy’s going to have a great day, even against a great player.
I think that its important to remember is that it’s day in, day out work. If you make it routine good things tend to happen. So, if you want to make something happen constant, routine work, over time makes things happen. It’s not coming from one moment to the next. It’s never that easy. It just takes time and work.
Nothing is static. We’re always moving. You’ve got to keep yourself in line but I think you always have to be ready for new things. I try to just keep evolving as a player. If I would have stayed as the player I was when I first started I would have never been out on the field now. I had to do a reinvention sometimes. I had to clean my baseball skills out and start new. That was the only way to really keep up with myself and keep up with the game.