Eugene X. Murphy '30 (Football, Baseball, Boxing)

Inducted 1978

Gene Murphy battled major injuries throughout his Catholic University playing career and even changed his throwing motion to continue playing quarterback and pitcher. The 1930 Cardinal yearbook said:

“Game after game we have watched him play in great pain, but with no thought of being relieved; no lessening of his indomitable determination to conquer all obstacles.”

The 5-foot-11 Murphy, a native of Manchester, N.H., was captain of the freshman baseball team and also boxed that spring in the 160-pound class. After suffering a severely pulled muscle in his right (throwing) arm while warming up to pitch his sophomore year, he found the only way to throw a football or baseball without pain was by using a sidearm delivery. His boxing career was over.

Murphy’s greatest success came on the gridiron. During his first year on varsity, he helped lead the 1927 team to a 5-3 mark for its first winning season in 12 years. CUA punctuated the campaign with a 27-21 victory over crosstown rival George Washington on Thanksgiving Day before 15,000 fans at Brookland Stadium. Murphy scored on a 90-yard interception return.

That he played at all that game was a testament to his grit and fortitude. While on the team’s season-opening trip to play William & Mary, he sustained a slight femoral hernia and was hospitalized in Richmond, Va., for several days. He didn’t miss any games and had surgery to repair the injury that December.

The Cardinals also defeated GW in their other two season-ending contests, 40-8 in 1928 and 48-6 his senior year.

In the 1928 encounter, Murphy was cited by CUA’s student newspaper, The Tower, for being a “quadruple threat” – running, passing, kicking and receiving. He got the Cardinals on the scoreboard first with a fourth-down touchdown pass to fellow Hall of Famer Jim Schmidt. The pair also hooked up on a 40-yard reception and a 30-yard TD.

The Tower said it was Murhpy’s “splendid courage, the kind that causes a man to risk permanent injury in order to remain in the lineup and help win victory that has won for him a place in the heart of every C.U. man, past and present.

“Catholic University may have had greater football players than Gene Murphy, but it is a safe bet that it never had a gamer one.”

Chris McManes
August 2012