I have wanted to add my second blog post and after the inspiration from my boss Jim Daves last week, I feel the most appropriate subject would be my reflections on the retiring of legendary Sports Information aficionado Rich Murray from the UVa Media Relations office. Mr. Murray will turn the light off in his office for the final time this evening after first coming to UVa in 1983 from James Madison.
Anyone who has ever met or worked with Mr. Murray has recognized him as the consummate gentleman, and that observation only scratches the surface of who he is, what he means to his family and what he has meant the last 29 years to the University of Virginia.
I first met Mr. Murray in the winter of 2008 when I was the men’s basketball media relations contact for Liberty University. We were in Charlottesville for a November tilt with UVa. He was so welcoming, I felt like we had been working together for the 70th game, rather then just for the first time. The night ended well for the Flames behind Anthony Smith and three freshmen starters, including Seth Curry and Jesse Sanders. Liberty came away with the 86-82 triumph, but UVa left a definite impact on me.
My dealings with Mr. Murray were my very first experiences with Virginia Athletics, much like many other SIDs and media members during his tenure – he was the first impression. I left Charlottesville with such a warm and enjoyable first glimpse of the Athletics Department at Mr. Jefferson’s University and Mr. Murray played a huge part in that.
About 10 months after that game I found myself with a supply closet as the only thing standing between my new office and Mr. Murray’s. While I have now worked roughly 70 Virginia men’s basketball games for Mr. Murray, it’s the little things I am going to miss. I will miss stopping by his office every night on the way out to converse on wherever the wind blew our conversations – from his experience working the 1983 College World Series during JMU’s magical trip to Omaha to his love for the New York Mets. I loved hearing the old SID stories of him standing at night in a sketchy Washington D.C. neighborhood (it may have been Philadelphia) on a pay phone calling in game results from a road JMU basketball game while the team was getting something to eat.
I loved hearing him talk about his family. What is the adage … behind every great man, there is even a greater woman? Mr. Murray’s wife Sara fits that billing. Their youngest son Patrick, an Annapolis graduate, has been stationed at Camp Pendleton Marine Base in California the past few years. Patrick and his wife have a house in Oceanside, a city just north of my hometown in Carlsbad. Whenever the Murrays visit their son, they happen to attend church at the beautiful old California Mission San Luis Rey – which is where my mother, who passed away in 1999 to a 15-year battle with breast cancer, is buried. Every journey west, which has been more frequent for Sara with the birth of their first grand child, she will bring flowers to my mom’s grave. It is something I am most appreciative of. I am lucky to call the Murrays friends.
In closing I always like to think that UVa associate head men’s basketball coach Ritchie McKay stops by our offices as much as he does because of my friendship with him, but its because of Mr. Murray. Because like me, Ritchie enjoys the camaraderie with Mr. Murray, like I have my sentiments and stories and experiences working side-by-side – so does he and so does everyone else. That is what makes Mr. Murray special and is what will make him missed. But I am excited for his next chapter – and thankful for the nearly three years I was able to work in the same office with him. Observing him will only make me a better professional in in this business.
Thank you for everything Mr. Murray and congratulations on your retirement! Wahoowa for life!
Did I mention Mr. Murray’s penchant for singing? I once had him sing me Irish Eyes are Smiling … here is a quick video of him singing at his surprise party yesterday. Forgive my roommate Jay James for dancing in the middle of the song
Personal Thoughts and Blog Views by Vincent Briedis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at vincentbriedis.wordpress.com.