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For Cubs' Murton, teamwork applies to more than baseball

Photo by Kristin Luther

 

 

By Steve Wilhoit
STAR Correspondent

Sure, Matt Murton is projected as the Chicago Cubs’ starting left fielder in 2006. But opportunity comes from teamwork, not only on the diamond but also in life.

The 24-year-old Murton was the featured speaker at Wednesday night’s chapter meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at a jam-packed Wilson Auditorium on the Milligan College campus.

“We have responsibilities. Don’t forget to have a team concept, to have a relationship with fellow believers, and then carry it on to your community,” Murton told the gathering during his presentation.

“God calls on all of us to carry on his word,” he emphasized. “I believe we should try to be better today than yesterday, and better tomorrow than today.”

Murton also tied his storyline to a video presentation, entitled “A Father, A Son,” better known as the “Hoyt Video.” The video, based on the story of Rick and Dick Hoyt, focused on the pair running marathons and triathlons, despite the severe disabilities of the son (Rick).

“This shows the team concept of the father and son which carried through in the ability to compete,” Murton said. “They persevered, the same way Jesus did.”

Murton was called up the majors on July 8 of last year, exactly two years to the day from when he was a first-round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox out of Georgia Tech.

The native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. was a part of the Nomar Garciaparra trade just over a year after he was drafted. Garciaparra is now a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Murton described his big-league debut at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami against the Florida Marlins. “I had about 40 minutes sleep after the fly-in and was a little nervous but asked the Lord to help me relax and let my talent show through. Dontrelle Willis (2005 N.L. Cy Young Award runner-up) was pitching but when I stepped in, I was able to relax and singled through the hole on the left side.”

Murton finished the game 2-2 with a walk and an RBI.

After starting the year in Double A with the Southern League’s West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, Murton moved up after hitting .342 in 78 games. He made an immediate impression at Wrigley Field, batting .321 with seven homers and 14 RBIs in the majors.

When asked about his opportunity to play in the bigs, Murton expressed gratitude to the Cubs for their belief in his abilities.

“I want to thank the organization, staff, and my teammates as they accepted me,” he said. “They trust my talents and used their money and resources in other areas in the off-season.”

He continued, “I do want to also say that baseball is what I do but doesn’t define who I am.”

Murton was introduced to the crowd by his three-year teammate at Georgia Tech, Matthew Swain. Swain is the Milligan College assistant to campus ministry and FCA mentor.

Swain shared the story of an ACC Tournament win by the Yellow Jackets.

“I was the captain but didn’t get to play much and was inactive for the tournament. After we won the championship, Matt came up to me on the bus and gave me the tournament plaque he had earned. That’s the type of person he is.”

Georgia Tech went on to make an appearance in the College World Series during the Murton era.

Murton also spoke of his appreciation for the FCA. “The FCA is something which I hold dear to my heart. It’s based around the athlete but reaches out to others.”

Murton also said he would be remiss without mentioning the greatest influence in his life. “That would be my parents. We grew up in a church in South Florida and I have been truly blessed. I’m just so thankful for them.”

Optimism was the key-word in an assessment of this year’s Cubs’ team. “I believe that we’re going to have a very good team. If we stay healthy, especially with our pitching, we’re going to have a good year under (manager) Dusty Baker.”

The Milligan College FCA chapter meets monthly and was established to challenge, encourage, and nurture student-athletes in their faith and life together at Milligan. Any student at Milligan is invited and encouraged to attend the meetings.

 

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MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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