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Kidsday interviews Mets infielder Daniel Murphy

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy with

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy with Kidsday reporters (l) Madison Callinan, Matthew Echausse, and John Ryan, all from Kellenberg school in Uniondale. (May 6, 2012) Credit: Newsday Pat Mullooly

We met Mets infielder Daniel Murphy before a home game at Citi Field recently.

For many people, a first at-bat can be a very tough thing, but on your first at-bat [in the major leagues] you got a hit off three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt. What did that feel like?

I don't think I touched the ground on the way to first base. I was really nervous. I almost threw up in my first game. I was just sick to my stomach. Just because they were playing at the stadium that day, with that many people, and to get that first hit and kind of get it out of the way. . . . I would say it was sheer elation.

So far, what has been the high point of your baseball career?

I'd say just making it in the big leagues and then being able to get to know the guys in that clubhouse -- a group of guys who worked together to kind of get to the level that you want to achieve and attain and . . . now [it] is such a good platform to kind of allow people to know what it is I stand for, which is the Lord. So the whole thing is kind of a culmination.

Was there a big difference in pitch speed from minors to majors?

No, not pitch speed. More location. The pitchers in the big leagues, we would like to say, they execute a little bit better. So they don't miss in the middle of the plate as much. But as far as sheer arm strength, the guys in the minor leagues, though, I think, throw just as hard as the guys in the big leagues do.

What was your favorite baseball team as a kid?

The Atlanta Braves. They were on the TV all the time; I grew up in Jacksonville, so they were always on TBS. So it was kind of an easy choice to follow the Braves.

Is it awkward now that they're your rival?

Oh, I don't like them anymore.

What responsibilities do you think professional athletes should have to their fans? The young fans?

Guys like you? That's a great question. I think first, one of the responsibilities I feel like is that I have to lead a life worthy of who I believe in, which is Jesus. And second, young fans in terms of a role model, I think there's so many different ways you could use that . . . for me, one of the things that I try to do is that I try to play this game as hard as I can every day. And that's just approaching whatever aspect you are on in your life to the best of your ability . . . is one big thing I try to do.

As a natural infielder, you get moved around a lot. What position are you most comfortable at?

Hitter. I played leftfield when I got called up. I played some first base, and now I have been able to play second base [a lot]. I'm getting more comfortable at second. My politically correct answer is wherever the manager has me that day, that's where I'm most comfortable. But I am getting more comfortable at second base each day.

Outside of baseball, what are some of your hobbies?

I play a lot of video games. I'm getting married this offseason, so a new hobby that I didn't know I had was planning for a wedding. My brother plays baseball, so a lot of my stuff outside of baseball is actually [about] baseball. So we talk a lot, and when I'm at home in the offseason, he's preparing for his season. So we work out quite a bit together.

Do the fans' cheers or boos affect your game? Do you really hear them?

Oh, you hear them. Absolutely. It's fun when they cheer. Something good just happened, whether it's to myself or to my teammates. The boos, you try not to let it affect you too much. You get excited when they cheer, and when they boo, it's an opportunity to try and make amends.

Does your uniform number 28 have any significance?

No, they put that in my locker when I got called up. So I've been 28 ever since. I didn't really care. I would have worn a Roman numeral if I had to. It didn't really matter at that point when I got called up.

What is your favorite baseball stadium to play in?

I like going to Philly as far as road stadium. I'm excited we go there tonight. I enjoy Philly. Passionate fans, good rivalry, and it's a small ballpark.

If you were to coach a little league baseball team, what would you tell them to focus on?

Have fun. This game becomes very much like a business, very quickly from the time that you're 16 years old, I would say, and you're preparing yourself to try to go to college and maybe play professionally or playing in the big leagues. We forget daily that this is fun. It doesn't always seem that way, but enjoy yourself, play as hard as you can and have fun.

What are some words of advice for kids with dreams of playing in the major leagues?

You approach it like anything else. You work as hard as you can. I know it's a cliché. But also with the understanding to have a fall-back plan. That's one thing I didn't do very well with college. I didn't have very good grades. I left early. So now I'm still a ways away from being able to graduate, which my brother just graduated yesterday. So he ruined the curve for me. So like also in life you guys will find, when you find something that you desire, you just approach it the best you can. . . . Eventually one day I will have to get a job that doesn't involve baseball. One day my knees will be done, my arm will be shot, I won't be able to run or hit or anything so I'd like to have a college degree.

What was your goal when you went to the major leagues?

I'd say first and foremost is to be a good teammate. To be somebody that whether I went four for four, which I was fortunate to yesterday or O for four which is what I did in Houston, that I would still be the same guy to my teammates. It's a struggle. It's a struggle every day to not let success make you happy and failure make you very frustrated and be a little bit better on my strokes. I struggle with that. So I'd say the biggest thing I try to do is to be consistent good teammate everyday. And it's hard.

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