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Baseball tourney keeps boy’s spirit alive

Teams participate in the Brian Murphy Memorial Day

Teams participate in the Brian Murphy Memorial Day BBQ and All-Star Games, hosted by the Syosset Baseball Association, on May 28 at Syosset-Woodbury Community Park. (May 28, 2011) Photo Credit: Amy Platt

Deacon James Murphy lost his 12-year-old son, Brian, to thymic carcinoma in 1992.

But the Syosset Baseball Association remembers Brian as a happy second baseman and catcher, not a cancer victim.

The year after Brian died of the disease -- which affects the thymus gland that originates behind the sternum and extends to the root of the neck -- the association named its annual Memorial Day weekend baseball tournament after the boy. And every year the 67-year-old Murphy, who ministers at Syosset’s St. Edward the Confessor Church, shows up to throw out the first pitch for one of the games.

“I think when you have a tragedy in your life, some of the only things left are the community, family and church that care for you,” Murphy said. “And that’s exactly what happened here.”

As part of the Brian Murphy Memorial Day BBQ and All-Star Games on May 28, 16 games were played, concluding with Syosset squaring off against Jericho in the “Turnpike Challenge.” The winning team was awarded the title and a trophy that will be displayed at Phil’s Pizzeria and Restaurant at 265 Jericho Tpke. for one year.

The barbecue featured hot dogs, hamburgers and a crowd favorite -- cotton candy.

“Each year, it gets bigger and bigger,” said Rob Jolson, president of the Syosset Baseball Association, who estimated that the attendance at Syosset-Woodbury Community Park would exceed 2,000.

Throughout the day, Syosset volunteers with the non-profit organization Homerun Hopefuls collected used and new baseball equipment that will be brought to impoverished children in the Dominican Republic in July.

That kind of giving will keep Murphy, a former director of the Syosset Baseball Association’s major league, coming back to share in the goodwill.

Said Murphy, “As long as I can reach the plate I guess I can still do it.”

For more information about Homerun Hopefuls, visit HomerunHopefuls.org.

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